With the continued increase of SUVs, large sedans have largely fallen out of favor. That said, there will always be a segment of the market with a soft spot for the old saloon. Mercedes recently launched the new S-Class, BMW will do the same with the 7 Series in 2022, while Audi is currently working on a facelift for the A8. This shows that the Big German Three is determined to keep the full-size luxury sedan segment alive.
This isn’t just any A8 facelift, but the elongated version, as the towering rear doors indicate. The prototype in question could be even more special than the one judging by the small disguise on the basis of the C-pillar. There is nothing in this area on the current model, which leads us to believe that Audi could hide the Horch badge reserved for a chic version of its flagship product.
While the four rings have not confirmed the return of the name “Horch”, officials in Ingolstadt have revealed plans for a “particularly luxurious and prestigious derivative”. A forerunner of the Audi as we know it today, Horch was one of four brands that merged to become Auto Union AG in 1932. The later automaker Auto Union GmbH was formed in 1949 and merged with NSU in 1969 to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG. In 1985 the company changed its name to Audi AG.
A potential A8 bearing the Horch badge would allow Audi to take the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class without stepping on the toes of the Bentley Flying Spur. It is a known fact that the current generation A8 will be the last production Audi with the majestic W12 engine, and it would be a natural choice to mark its retirement with an ultra-luxurious A8.
The prototype caught by our spies allows us to fully understand what to expect from the A8 facelift in general. The headlights and taillights have a different look and the front grille has also been modified. We expect the Horch model to ride on a unique set of wheels and possibly a bespoke grille, but Audi isn’t likely to make any substantial changes from the normal A8. The same goes for the Maybach S-Class as it only has a few design changes compared to the Benz model.
A big difference between the two is that although the Maybach S-Class has a longer wheelbase, the Audi A8 Horch could have the same distance between axles as the A8 L. Most of the changes compared to the normal sedan will take place inside the cabin where the list of equipment will be longer than the already numerous goodies offered for the “plain” A8.
The envelopes are expected to peel off later this year and it will be interesting to see if the Horch derivative (if it’s actually coming soon) will be a special limited-edition edition or a permanent member of the family as is the case with the Maybach S- Classify.