A brace of new upper-tier Audis, both due later this year, will kickstart revolutions in design and technology for the brand
26 April 2017

Audi has laid the foundations for what one senior insider has described to Autocar as the brand's "most ambitious new model programme to date”.

The plan, which will result in Audi introducing no less than 15 new or facelifted models between now and the end of 2018, will be led by new versions of the A8 and A7. Both cars will feature advanced technology and design cues that will influence other vehicles in the Audi range.

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The new model blitz is the core element in a broader strategy Audi’s chairman, Rupert Stadler, is banking on to help re-establish the company’s standing following the negative headlines and exodus of top-ranking officials in connection with the Dieselgate emissions scandal.

The first model charged with helping Audi to extend its global new car sales beyond the record 1,871,350 established in 2016 is the company’s new flagship, the fourth-generation A8. Due to make its world debut in July, the luxury saloon showcases a fresh design lineage and introduces a range of new technologies, including a suite of autonomous driving functions that will filter down into other Audis, such as the new Q8 and fifth-generation A6, which are both due in 2018.

Although Audi officials are keen to talk up the new A8, it's the second-generation A7 – the first model to be designed wholly under Audi’s new design boss, Marc Lichte – that Ingolstadt sources suggest more successfully embodies the stylistic direction the company intends to pursue.

Lichte, who rose to prominence at Volkswagen prior to succeeding Wolfgang Egger as Audi design boss in 2014, has planned two crucial steps in the design of Audi’s production models over the next three years. The first will focus around the new A7, which is due to be revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show in September. The second step will be reflected on the fourth-generation A3, which is due to be revealed in 2019.

With an exterior heavily inspired by that seen on the 2015 Audi Prologue concept, the new A7 dispenses with the familiar look of today’s model in favour of a more tightly drawn appearance.

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At the front end, it has a wider, shallower, eight-corner single-frame grille and distinctive trapezoidal headlamps with Audi’s LED Matrix lighting technology and a new design of graphics.

The new A7 has tauter surfacing forms than its predecessor. Also set to feature on the upmarket four-door coupé-hatchback are new feature lines along the flanks. Audi sources suggest these will become a common element on all of the company’s upcoming models. New production techniques are claimed to allow Audi to achieve corner radii of 2.5mm on panel creases, compared to the 8.0mm achieved by its premium-brand competition.

At the rear, the new A7 is set to have full-width tail-lights, which will also become a key design element on the upcoming A8 and Q8, as well as Audi’s first fully dedicated electric model, the E-tron SUV, which is due in 2018.

The new-look tail-light is claimed to counterbalance a heavy tapering effect to the flanks towards the rear of the car, helping to accentuate the visual width of the new Audi by providing a greater focus on horizontal design elements.

The A7, which will compete against the BMW 6 Series Gran CoupéMercedes-Benz CLS and Porsche Panamera, goes against the trend towards ever-greater dimensions in the class, with Audi insiders hinting at a 70mm reduction in overall length from the current A7's 4970mm.

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Despite that reduction in length, test prototypes of the new model clearly reveal that it will have a longer wheelbase and wider tracks, giving it both a more confident stance and, according to Audi, more interior space.

The performance-orientated S7 derivative will boast a 30mm-wider front track and more heavily flared front bumpers than the standard A7. The RS7 will look even more aggressive, with yet wider tracks and a more heavily structured wheel arch styling than today’s model.

A further development confirmed by Audi insiders is a move toward larger wheel houses, which will allow Audi to offer wheels of up to 21in. If low-profile tyres are fitted, the next S7 and RS7 could possibly even accept 22in wheels.

The interior of the new A7 departs even more radically from its predecessor. Modelled closely on that of the Prologue concept, it has three separate digital displays: one in front of the driver for the instruments, another high up on the dashboard handling the infotainment, and the third lower down on the centre console, controlling functions such as the air conditioning.

The basis for the new A7 is the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB (Modular Longitudinal Architecture) platform, which also underpins the A4 and new A8 as well as the Q5, Q7 and upcoming Q8. As with the outgoing first-generation A7, a choice of either front or four-wheel drive will be offered.

The engines set to power the new A7 and A8 include turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder and turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 direct-injection petrol units. The latter has been developed in partnership with Porsche and is already used in the A4 and A5. Those powerplants will be joined from the launch of the A8 by 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre V6 diesels.

Also planned for the A7 and A8 is a newly developed plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain to be used in a pair of new e-tron models.

This drivetrain combines the turbocharged 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine with an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery pack. The latter is housed under the boot floor in both cars. The hybrid system is claimed to offer a overall power output of 245bhp, together with an electric-only range of up to 34 miles.

Our Verdict

Audi A8

The Audi A8 is a highly capable and desirable luxury saloon that's very easy to live with, despite its flaws

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Comments
14

26 April 2017
What is the point of ever larger wheels on road cars ? Fitted with low profile tyres they make the ride harsh and the chance of kerbing is increased, even by careful drivers. All this just raises the cost of motoring.

26 April 2017
Looks like they left the work experience lad in charge of wheels again. I've just refitted my 19" summer wheels - I already miss my 17" winter ones!

 

 

 

26 April 2017
But why is everything styling led? Whatever happened to advanced engineering? Or are technical improvements not deemed newsworthy enough to headline? Personally I don't see the trend towards bigger and ever more complicated cars with enormous wheels as being something to celebrate, though they may indeed be highly profitable to manufacture.

26 April 2017
I think this so called report is just a cut and paste from the press release.

What a load of bull

26 April 2017
I thought there was a plan to discontinue the MLB, moving the A8, A7 to the MSB and the A5-A4-Q5 to MQB, with the A6 and Macan also going one way or the other.

26 April 2017
....soon to be seen on a Russian Doll Audi/Merc/BM near you.

26 April 2017
If you look closely, this is again a stupid 'as imagined by Autocar' drawing. Although this time, the text doesn't say this - it is just written on the drawing.

Autocar has forever told us not to be obsessed by large wheels, but the character who draws these ridiculous impressions clearly has unfulfilled Max Power fantasies that they need to share with us.

Autocar seem hell bent on infuriating their readers. And not in a good, provocative, way.

26 April 2017
You're right, I didn't notice initially. Maybe all these "designers" (and frustrated designers working for car magazines) went to the same art school, where they learn to draw big wheels, big bonnets, big exhausts and big radiator grilles? Or maybe our cars have just got so huge and the wheels have just grown in proportion. Time was when 10in wheels were good enough for a mini, 13in for a family saloon and 15in for a limo. Back in those days, the real designers were more concerned with unsprung weight and ride quality than down the road graphics and Nurburgring lap times...

26 April 2017
So it will be "only" 4.9m "short" but will become over 2m wide and sport tractor size wheels. :-D
Hilarious and utterly ridiculous.

No manual - no fun

27 April 2017
NoPasaran wrote:

So it will be "only" 4.9m "short" but will become over 2m wide and sport tractor size wheels. :-D
Hilarious and utterly ridiculous.

I missed the bit about the car being over 2m wide but can well believe it.
I deplore the fashion for ever bigger cars, especially where the increase is in the width (Roads don't get wider, not parking spaces) and especially when the increased width does not translate into greater rear cabin width (Quote: "a heavy tapering effect to the flanks towards the rear of the car")
Tapering improves aerodynamics and so fuel efficiency at high speeds. But I need figures of what % the gain is, and on average how many car trips are done at speeds where aerodynamics really matters, before I am convinced by the appalling trend to make cars fatter and fatter.

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