Audi has sharpened its flagship A8 and S8 models for 2014 with new driver aids, new Matrix LED headlights and more powerful engines that (mirabile dictu) also use less fuel that their predecessors
Both the A8 and its 130mm-longer A8L long-wheelbase sibling have a new boot layout for easier loading and extra noise damping for even more plutocratic ride comfort.
Bonnet, single-frame grille and bumper are more strongly sculptured, while the lower edge of the headlight clusters is straight and, in the German market at least, LED headlights are standard in all V8 models.
The headlights use predictive route data, such as curves and road classifications, from the optional Navigation plus system with MMI touch to adjust the distribution of light in response to the current driving situation.
Available as an option are new Matrix LED headlights, with high-beams each made up of 25 light-emitting diodes, that can be switched on and off or dimmed individually depending on the situation.
This enables the headlights to react precisely to other vehicles while always brightly illuminating the road. The Matrix set-up also includes the intelligent cornering lights, new-look daytime running lights and dynamic turn signals.
MORE EFFICIENT ENGINES
The A8 launches in Europe with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines - a 228kW supercharged three-litre TFSI V6, a 320kW twin-turbo four-litre TFSI V8, the proven 190kW three-litre TDI 'clean diesel' and a punchy 283kW/850Nm 4.2-litre TDI V8.
But wait, as they say, there's more: the range-topping A8 L W12 quattro comes with a 368kW, 6.3-litre W12 petrol engine which runs on six cylinders under partial load and averages 11.7 litres per 100km, while the S8 sports sedan boasts 380kW from its four-litre TFSI V8, good enough to handle 0-100 in 4.2 seconds flat, on an average of 10.1 litres per 100km.
Finally, the A8 hydrid combines a two-litre TFSI and an electric motor to produce a system output of 180kW and 480Nm, driving the front wheels via a modified tiptronic transmission.
A lithium-ion battery behind the rear seats is good for about 3km of pure-electric at up to 100km/h.
An eight-speed, electronically controlled tiptronic auto transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive are standard on all A8's (except the hybrid), while an electronic limited-slip rear differential is an option - and standard issue on the 4.2 TDI and the S8 variants.
A new range of choices for upholstery, inlays and colour schemes includes fine-grain brown-silver poplar and brown-gold ash veneers as well as Unikat, an especially soft and breathable leather created by a new tanning process.
The S8 is also now available in a special black and brown interior finish with copper-coloured carbon-fibre inlays.
New driver aids start with active lane assist, which makes slight steering adjustments when necessary, and a park assist system with 360-degree display that steers the car when parking.
A new head-up display projects important data in the driver's field of vision on the windshield, while the night vision assistant can now also recognise larger animals as well as pedestrians.
The multimedia highlight of the 2014 A8 is a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, while the rear-seat entertainment system includes two displays, Bluetooth headphones and a DVD player.
The revised A8 and S8 - with the exception of the hybrid, which won't be released in South Africa - will reach local Audi showrooms in the first quarter of 2014, while the A8 L W12 limousine will land about three months later.
Prices, as always, when they get here.