A few years ago, Mercedes-Benz killed off its Maybach brand, as it was just producing badge-engineered S Classes for the same price as bespoke cars like Bentleys and Rolls Royces. However, the Stuttgart-based brand has recently brought the Maybach name back from the dead in the form of an ultra high trim level for the S Class. While it’s not much cheaper than, say, a Bentley Flying Spur, it’s actually selling quite well and that’s starting to make an impression on Audi.
During a recent interview between Auto Express and Audi’s technical boss, Dr Stefan Knirsch, we hear it’s possible for a Maybach-rivaling Audi A8 in the future. According to Knirsch, “We are thinking about it,” when discussing the possibility of a longer wheelbase ultra high-end A8. “The success of the extra-long version of the S-Class has got us wondering about whether there could be a business case for that in the future.”
As it stands now, the only variants of the Audi A8 are the long wheelbase A8L and the S8. So Audi is currently missing out on the ultra high-end market. Even BMW has developed a M760Li V12 Excellence model that, while not Maybach Mercedes level, is more luxurious than the standard car. So it seems as if Audi needs to get into this game with its upcoming Audi A8 replacement.
Admittedly, Audi does has a limousine variant of the A8, the six-door A8 limo, but that’s made-to-order only and not really any more luxurious than the standard A8, it’s just bigger with more doors and seats. Audi would have to develop a variant of the future A8 with a longer wheelbase, a far more luxurious cabin in the back and some really impressive technology. The Ingolstadt-based brand is working on the latter though.
It’s said that the next-gen Audi A8 will have SAE Level 3 automation, which allows the car to self-pilot itself without the driver’s hands on the wheel for extended periods of time and at high speed. It’s the current level of automation that Tesla has with its Autopilot system, so it’s quite a lot. “We are working on the new A8 to introduce this new level of piloted systems,”. However, driver’s will still be required to intervene for certain aspects of driving, it’s not full automation.
It’s tough to say what such a supreme luxury variant of the next-gen Audi A8 could be without knowing anything about the next-gen A8, but it will likely have the most advanced technology in its class, as it will be the newest car in its class, and it will likely rival Mercedes Maybach for luxury. It’s a tough spot for Audi, though, as it would be competing with its sister company, Bentley, who is also under the Volkswagen umbrella and who knows how far VW will let Audi go before it steps on Bentley’s toes. It will certainly be interesting to watch out for when the new A8 debuts.