On the other hand, it should be noted that Audi's designers managed to achieve an exceptional drag coefficient of only 0.26, which is about the same as the smaller Toyota Prius hybrid.
Moving on to the interior, let's just say that, sans the A4-esque instrument panel, owners of the current generation A8 will feel right at home. In fact, we bet that most will have a hard time telling the two interiors apart. Nonetheless, the Germans do claim that the cabin has been further improved in terms of quality of workmanship as well as materials.
Leaving the evolutionary styling of the exterior and interior aside, the new 2011 A8 continues to make use of a lightweight aluminum body. The normal wheelbase A8 (a LWB will follow at a later date) measures 5,137 mm (16.85 ft) in length, 1,949 mm (6.39 ft) in width and 1,460 mm (4.79 ft) in height, with a 2,992 mm (9.82 ft) wheelbase.
The company has not yet released official figures for the A8, however, Audi says that the new model weighs about the same as the current A8, even though it's bigger (3 in. longer, 2 in. wider) and has more standard equipment.
Besides the low weight, the aluminum space frame (ASF) body of the A8 has other advantages with the company announcing that the static torsional stiffness has increased by 25 percent compared with the predecessor.
When the 2011 A8 arrives in European showrooms in early 2010, it will be available with a choice of two engines, a 4.2 FSI and a 4.2 TDI.
The 4.2-liter V8 petrol makes 372HP and 445 Nm (328 lb-ft) torque at 3,500 rpm, accelerating the A8 from zero to 100 km/h (62mph) in 5.7 seconds, and on to an electronically governed top speed of 250km/h (155mph).
Audi says that in the EU cycle, the petrol version returns a combined 9.5 lt/100 km (24.76 US mpg, which represents a reduction of 1.4 liters or 13 percent compared over its predecessor, despite a power increase of 22-horsepower.
The 4.2-liter V8 TDI diesel produces 350HP and a whopping 800 Nm (590 lb-ft) of torque already available at speeds between 1,750 and 2,750 rpm. The V8 diesel accelerates the A8 from rest to 100 km/h (62mph) in just 5.5 seconds.
Even though this new engine delivers 24HP and 150Nm of torque more than before, average consumption has dropped by 1.8 liters/100 km or 19 percent to 7.6 liters/100 km (31 US mpg), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 199 g/km (320 g/mile).
The two V8 engines will be joined by two six-cylinder diesels shortly after the market launch. The first 3.0-liter V6 TDI diesel makes 250HP and 550 Nm (406 lb-ft) propelling the A8 from 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in 6.6 seconds while consuming on average 6.6 liters of fuel per 100 km (36 US mpg).
The second variant of the 3.0-liter V6 TDI produces 204HP and will be offered only as a front wheel drive model. It is said to return an average fuel consumption of 6.0 lt/100 km (39 US mpg), corresponding to CO2 emissions of 159 g/km (256 g/mile).
All engine versions will be equipped with a new, electronically controlled 8-speed tiptronic system and quattro permanent all-wheel drive (sans the basic 3.0 TDI model). As an option, Audi will offer a dynamic sport differential, which will be standard on the 4.2 TDI quattro.
In the U.S., the 2011 A8 will go on sale in late 2010 and will be offered at launch exclusively with the 372HP 4.2-liter V8 FSI petrol.
Techno gizmos include a revised MMI multimedia interface, seats with optional ventilation and massage functions, a new Audi pre sense safety system for avoiding accidents, adaptive air-suspension, a next generation nav system, night vision assistant with pedestrian marking and an adaptive cruise control with stop & go feature.