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Beijing show: Audi stretches its new A8 limousine

Stretched: Long-wheelbase A8L will make its global debut in China next week.

A8L emerges even before Audi’s redesigned flagship sedan arrives Down Under

16 Apr 2010

THE stretched, long-wheelbase version of Audi's fourth-generation A8 limousine, which is still a few months away from Australian shores, has surfaced ahead of its world debut at next week's Beijing motor show.

While the standard A8 quattro sedan will arrive in Australia around mid-year -powered initially by 4.2 FSI petrol and 4.2 TDI diesel V8 engines, with a 3.0 TDI variant to follow - the A8L is expected to top the range in early 2011.

Pictured here is the new top-shelf A8L W12 quattro, packing a larger new 6.3-litre direct-injection 12-cylinder petrol engine, but Audi says that by year's end the A8L will be available with the same engine range as the short-wheelbase A8. Once again, an eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard across the range.

The local A8 LWB engine line-up is not confirmed, but the 6.0 W12 quattro LWB currently tops the outgoing A8 range at $331,300 and the only other long-wheelbase A8 available in Australia is the chauffer market-oriented A8 3.0 TDI quattro LWB ($165,300).

Eclipsing its most direct rivals in the exclusive upper larger sedan segment at some 5267mm long overall, the stretched A8L is 130mm longer than the short-wheelbase A8 following a wheelbase stretch to 3122mm.

7 center imageWhile the 12-cylinder A8L features a slightly different grille, exhaust outlets and 19-inch alloy wheels (20 and even 21-inch wheels will also be available), the flagship A8 is headlined by a larger new 6.3-litre direct-injection W12 engine with 368kW (500hp) of power and no less than 625Nm of torque from 3250rpm.

That easily betters the 331kW output of the circa-2004 6.0-litre W12 engine it replaces, while fuel consumption is reduced by 1.6 litres per 100km or 12 per cent to 12.0L/100km – despite claimed 0-100km/h acceleration in a sportscar-like 4.9 seconds (top speed remains governed at 250km/h).

The larger-displacement, direct-injected version of Audi’s unique W12 continues to comprise four rows of three cylinders with a 15-degree included angle between the two offset rows of cylinders in each cylinder block - with a V-angle between the two blocks of 72 degrees - making it shorter than a comparable V8.

However, despite an increase in bore size for the newest 6299cc iteration, which weighs 247kg, Audi’s new W12 6.3 FSI remains an undersquare design with an 86.0mm bore and a 90.4mm stroke.

While the A8L retains the 1949mm width of the short-wheelbase A8, overall height increases by 2mm, to 1462mm. All of the 130mm of extra overall length is used to increase legroom for rear-seat passengers, who also gain improved ergonomics from the longer rear doors.

Audi says the A8L will come with a range of new options, including heated and cooled, power-adjustable rear seats, a panoramic glass sunroof and a console that stretches from the centre tunnel to the rear shelf, which can be specified with equipment like a folding table or fridge.

As we reported from the global launch of the A8 earlier this year, Audi’s newest luxury limousine is built on an aluminium Audi Space Frame (ASF) chassis and weighs about 40 per cent less than a comparable steel body.

The W12 also gains LED headlights, which are optional on the rest of the A8L range.

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