Can the Audi A8 hang on until the new one gets here?

We just recently learned that Audi will be debuting a self-driving concept of the Audi A8 at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show. What we don’t know is whether or not that this will be a concept version of the current generation A8 or if it will be an early concept of the next-gen A8 that should be coming in 2017. The fact that the next one won’t be coming until after 2017 could cause some worry over in Ingolstadt, however.

2017 Audi A8 render
2017 Audi A8 render

Currently, the cars dominating the segment are the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the BMW 7 Series. Both cars are newer than the current Audi A8. The current Mercedes-Benz S Class is a couple of years old now, but is still widely considered the best luxury car in the segment. It’s gorgeously appointed, has incredible technology and is the most luxurious car to not wear either a Bentley or Rolls Royce badge. Having been in both the S Class and the A8, I must admit that the S Class is the clear winner in terms of luxury and quality. That’s not a knock against the A8, it’s just that the S Class is so superb.

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BMW has also just released its newest iteration of its flagship, the 7 Series. While the 7 Series isn’t nearly as luxurious or sumptuous as the S Class, it’s filled with enough new technology to make the Millennium Falcon blush. Things like gesture control, an adaptive drive mode and remote-parking (for non US-market cars only) put the 7 Series atop the technology mountain. Oh, and it can also handle well, too.

2016 BMW 730d

So it seems as if the current Audi A8 is a bit outclassed at the moment, which isn’t particularly surprising considering its age. It is by far and away the oldest car in the segment. Even Jaguar has its new XJ, which is more dynamic and luxurious than ever, and Cadillac is readying its CT6. So the current A8 is outgunned at the moment.

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This is why the new one can’t come soon enough. Audi desperately needs an update for its flagship vehicle so it can keep up with its competitors, in terms of both technology and luxury. Audi was originally going to be releasing the new A8 in 2016, but scrapped some of its original designs to embrace new technologies, so the next A8 won’t come until late 2017 and will be coming as 2018 models. This is quite some time to be stuck behind the game, as it will be the last of its competitors to have updated.

This could be a bit of a plus, if you want to think of it that way, that when the new A8 finally debuts it will be the newest car of the bunch by a mile. But at the moment, the A8 just looks old and dated and boring. And considering that the A8 is Audi’s flagship, the car that’s supposed to define the brand and display the best of what it can do, it looks poorly for the four-ringed brand. The current Audi A8 is a great car, but can it hang in there, while its competitors just keep getting better, until the new one gets here?

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.