This is the new Audi A8, which will arrive in UK showrooms next March, priced from £52,800.
The new car has lost the mass and bulk of the current model’s styling, replacing it instead with design themes from the A4. Much of the A8’s exterior design is lifted from the A4, especially around the front and rear.
Underlining the car's importance to Audi, company chairman Rupert Stadler said at its launch in Miami: "The A8 embodies everything that Audi is capable of. It’s the essence of our brand and represents our future. The A8 is the cornerstone in our route to becoming a signature brand that is one of a kind and unmistakable."
It’s a bigger car than its predecessor; at 5137mm long, 1949mm wide and 1460mm tall it's longer and wider than a Mercedes S-class or a BMW 7-series but lower than both. That makes it the biggest car in its class.
Audi design director Stefan Sielaff said: "Customers worldwide can appreciate that it is a premium statement. The rear of the A8 has always been too calm in the past; we needed to make it more luxurious."
As with all previous A8s, the car is built from aluminium, and using new alloys has cut 6.5kg from the A8’s weight. In total, the new A8 is an average of 110kg lighter than the outgoing model, with fuel consumption an average of 20 per cent better.
The front and rear lights use LEDs that offer illumination more like daylight than conventional headlamps. They also use less energy and weigh less.
When it’s launched, there will be two engines available, both V8s: the 4.2 FSI petrol with 367bhp/328lb ft and the 4.2 TDI diesel with 345bhp/590lb ft. The petrol V8 enables the A8 to reach 62mph in 5.7sec while the diesel is actually quicker: 0-62mph in 5.5sec.
A 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 247bhp will be added to the range later next year, along with a 201bhp version; Audi claims 159g/km for that model.
All A8s come with an eight-speed auto and quattro four-wheel drive as standard, and there’s a sport differential option that splits torque between the rear wheels.
Audi has added a new safety system called pre-sense, which activates the hazard lights, closes the windows and sunroof and pre-tensions the seatbelts if the brakes are fully applied.
There are three other versions of pre-sense available – one that will decelerate the car and apply the brakes, one that will apply the brakes sooner and harder and one that will shift the front seats forward to help protect the passengers in a rear-end collision.
The interior is all new. The gear selector is now an electronic shifter, with four positions; Audi says it’s shaped like the thrust lever on a powerboat. The MMI system has been moved from the centre console to the fascia and now features a touchpad panel, which allows you to write letters or numbers on the screen to enter phone numbers or navigation destinations.
Sielaff has emphasised that the forthcoming V12 version will be very different visually inside and out, as well as having far more personalisation options than the standard models.
New tech also includes a sat-nav that is linked into the cruise control and lighting system. It will slow you down if it detects heavy traffic ahead and adjust the length of the light beam according to the road ahead, as read by the sat-nav.
A further step forward in sat-nav technology is expected to be introduced later next year, and Audi is already looking at transferring some of the tech from the A8 to the A6 and A7.
Two trim levels will be be available - SE and SE Executive - and with a choice of short or long wheelbase. SE Executive adds items including 19-inch alloys, a parking camera and keyless entry. Prices will start from £52,800 for the 3.0 TDI SE, rising to £64,000 for the 4.2 TDI SE Executive.