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Official: Audi gets arty with all-new A8

Left-field: Temporary Audi Pavilion will host the world debut of the next A8 in Miami.

Audi confirms redesigned A8 limousine will debut not at LA show but Miami art fair

19 Nov 2009

AUDI has announced it will cap off its 100th anniversary year on November 30 with the world debut of its new-generation four-door flagship.

Unusually, however, the all-new A8 will make its public premiere not at the Los Angeles motor show in December as expected, but on the other side of the US in Miami a few days earlier – as part of an art exhibition.

In a clear indication of the target audience for Audi’s top-shelf luxury limousine, the redesigned A8 will make its first global appearance on the eve of Design Miami, before going on public display at the event’s temporary Audi Lounge from December 2 – opening day of the LA show.

While Audi will stage the North American debuts of the e-Tron zero-emissions sportscar and R8 Spyder in LA, the Volkswagen premium brand’s range-topping sedan will be exhibited until December 5 as part of both Design Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach.

The high-profile art fairs, for which Audi is the exclusive automotive sponsor this year, are said to represent the high point of the art season in Miami, which according to Audi has established itself as the worldwide capital of art and design.

“Our claim ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ also embraces design, which is one of the outstanding elements of the Audi signature,” said Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler in announcing the unconventional reveal strategy.

“And as top design has now emerged as an acknowledged art form, we see the bridge between art and architecture as a logical step in advancing our brand.”

The latest A8 will be the centrepiece of the vernissage The Art of Progress, which Audi says “exhibits cultural and technological progress and echoes the values of the new A8: Vorsprung durch Technik and design expertise that stirs the emotions”.

7 center imageIt will make world-first appearance in the temporary Audi Pavillion in Miami beach, alongside selected works from the new exhibition ‘Beg Borrow and Steal’, which belongs to the Rubell Family Collection, one of the world’s most important art collections, and the installation ‘The Light Light’, comprising aluminium and LED light, by top British designer Tom Dixon.

“Artists, designers and engineers have one passion in common, which becomes evident in The Art of Progress vernissage,” said Stefan Sielaff, Audi AG head of Design. “And that is the handling of form, function, colour and material. To what extent the result is art is decided by the claim behind it, but also by the observer.”

No images of the next A8 were released with today’s announcement, besides another one of the rangy saloon draped in white cloth, which shows less of the new model than a similar image released as part of Audi’s official centenary celebrations in July.

Pictured with the Audi AG board member for technical development Michael Dick, the A8 in the previous image and accompanying sketch clearly (above) showed new wave-shaped LED daytime running lights within new-look headlights.

Due on sale in Australia in the second half of next year, the A8 will be Audi’s biggest launch in 2010.

The fast-growing German maker will kick off the year locally in February with the release of the A5 Sportback, before completing it globally in September, when the Paris motor show is expected to host the debut of an additional model at the other end of Audi’s ever expanding model spectrum, the all-new A1.

As previously reported, the new A8 will debut an all-new turbocharged direct-injection V8 petrol engine from Audi, perhaps for the range-topping S8 sports sedan.

Apart from idle-stop technology, it will be mated to a new eight-speed conventional automatic transmission that – at least in terms of its ratio count – betters Jaguar’s upcoming XJ and the Mercedes-Benz S-class, and matches the Lexus LS460 and BMW’s upcoming 760Li.

More common versions of the fresh top-end sedan, which goes into production soon at Neckarsulm in Germany, will again be powered by direct-injection petrol and diesel V6s, plus 4.2-litre petrol and diesel V8s.

Based on a new-generation Aluminium Space Frame chassis that is expected to introduce carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, aluminium-copper composite and more magnesium materials, the new A8 could be up to 100mm longer than the XJ.

Audi’s current A8 went on sale in Europe in late 2003 and has attracted just 46 buyers in Australia so far this year – just one more than the Lexus LS. With sales down one-third on 2008 levels in its final full year on sale, the A8 commands just 7.4 per centof the nation’s $100,000-plus upper large sedan segment.

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