Overall: Audi’s ultra-luxury A8 flagship sedan now only comes in extra-long L guise and more power for the mid-range 4.0T Sport trim; rocketship S8, in regular-length, ready to take on Mercedes AMG biggies.
Drivetrain: Base 3.0-liter supercharged V6 has 333 horsepower; mid-range twin-turbo V8 now has 450 horses; boost is cranked to 520 horsepower for the S8; 12-cylinder and turbo-diesel V6 option carry over unchanged; eight-speed automatic transmissions.
Audi made big changes to the A8 for 2015, but the company still has a few tricks up its sleeve to attract more buyers to the four-ring brand. All A8s get LED headlights, a more sculpted hood and Audi’s Singleframe grille, which is more textured than before. For 2016, the A8 ditches the regular-wheelbase model, meaning arrive in extra-long “L” guise, which adds rear-seat-passenger stretch-out room. Notable is the vehicle’s pneumatic suspension; a computer is always changing the system to best absorb bumps on the road. There are no conventional springs of any kind, and you can even raise the A8 enough to get through deep snow. Driver-operated systems, everything from entertainment to the suspension, are controlled through a console-mounted turn-and-push selector knob and a seven-inch screen on the dashboard, which is designed to also read the driver’s handwriting (for note-taking purposes) on a special panel. Base models still use Audi’s familiar 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 horsepower. To bridge the gap between it and the 500-horsepower 6.3-liter 12-cylinder, Audi uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that now produces 450 horsepower (up from 435 in 2015). That V8 comes at the heart of the new 4.0T Sport package, which adds 20-inch sport wheels, a more aggressive front fascia and quilted alcantara (suede-like) bits on the seats and door panels. Real speed freaks will appreciate the 520-horsepower version of the V8 in regular-wheelbase S8. For the fuel-conscious, the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 has 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, along with 24-mpg fuel economy in the city and up to 36 on the highway. Base gasoline A8s achieve 18/28. All models come with eight-speed automatic transmissions (with manual control) and Quattro all-wheel-drive. While the regular V8 and 12-cylinder versions can hustle to 60 mph from rest in 4.4 seconds, the lighter, more driver-focused S8 does it in 3.9. The S8 is more of “sleeper” than the hotted-up AMG products from Mercedes-Benz, although it gets a more dramatic front bumper and grille, front air intakes, different side sills, and a rear diffuser that has even wider quad oval tailpipes.