A world-class proof of German aesthetics and engineering, the Audi A8 is oozing with style, luxury, and power. It was introduced in 1994 as a four-door, luxury sedan and is now on its third generation. Equipped with the renowned Volkswagen Group D and MLB platforms, plush interiors, and a powerful engine, the cherry on the top is an all-aluminum chassis. As a matter of fact, the Audi A8 is the first-ever mass market vehicle to feature such a lightweight yet durable frame.
1994-2002: Typ 4D
Introduced in 1994 at the Geneva Auto Show, the first-gen or Typ 4D Audi A8 was built using the Volkswagen Group D2 platofrm and the Audi Space Frame (ASF), an-aluminum monocoque. By using aluminum on its chassis, the vehicle is known for its light weight yet structural rigidity.
In 1997, the A8 was given several upgrades. These include six new interior airbags and an expanded engine line-up. It was available in either a Quattro permanent four-wheel drive or an FWD (front-wheel drive). The Quattro models were powered by a 4.2 L V8 engine, while the FWD models were backed by either a 2.8 L V6 or a 3.7 L V8 engine. In the same year, a coupe prototype was also unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. The coupe featured custom leather seats, a four-passenger capacity, a sloping roofline, and a seamless exterior. However, it never made into the production line. It was last publicly seen in 2002 during test drives.
2002-2009: Typ 4E
Launched in the US in 2003, the second-generation or Typ 4E Audi A8 was built using the Volkswagen Group D3 platform. It was longer than its predecessor and was equipped with a spacious, rear seat configuration. Two variants are offered: the short wheelbase or standard version (A8) and the long wheelbase edition (A8 L).
In 2005, the model came with new internal combustion engines. The 3 L V6 was replaced by a 3.2 L FSI or Fuel Stratified Injection system, but was only made available to European and Asian consumers. The W12 engine was also introduced in the same year. This top-grade engine’s unique compact packaging allowed the manufacturer to come up with an all-wheel drive, 12-cylinder sedan.
In the following years, the Audi A8 received several upgrades. These include a taller and wider trapezoid-based frame grille and new electronic safety systems such as the Audi Lane Assisst and the Audi Side Assist. An A8L Centennial Limited Edition was released in 2009, which featured a chrome-plated grille, a heated leather steering wheel, and 19-inch, 12-spoke aluminum wheels.
2009-present: Typ 4H
The fourth-gen version carries over the ASF construction but is now based on the Volkswagen Group MLB platform. Initial versions are equipped with either a 4.2 L FSI system or a TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) V8 engine.
In 2011, the A8 L Security was introduced. This armored version is built to withstand military hand grenade explosions and includes a safety cell made of high-grade materials such as aluminum, steel, and multi-layered glass.