Are subtle styling tweaks, incrementally improved engines and new headlight technology enough to keep the big Audi relevant?
While it may be the likes of the A4 and A6 saloons and the Q3 SUV that deliver the numbers for Audi in India, the big German luxury carmaker takes its flagship luxury limousines very seriously indeed and in the face of the updated BMW 7-series and the all-new Mercedes S-class, Audi has given the A8 a mid-life facelift with subtle styling revisions, incremental improvements to the powertrains and some very cool headlamp technology. Like all facelifts, the styling changes are of the blink-and-you-will-miss-it variety. The creases on the bonnet are more pronounced, the grille is reworked with only seven horizontal slats instead of eight (except in the sportier S8 model) and the front bumper is more rounded. The rear also sports a new tail-lamp design and sportier dual exhaust housings at the bottom of the rear bumper. A new range of alloy wheels, which are available in sizes from 17 to 21 inches in diameter, and added brightwork around the windows and within the door handles complete the visual makeover.
The most apparent visual change is the new Matrix-Beam LED headlamps comprising 25 diodes that can be switched on and off independently in combination with information from an on-board camera. This allows the headlights to react more quickly to oncoming vehicles by automatically blanking out high beam, as well as providing other safety features. We can’t help but wonder how effective this function will be in India despite the sci-fi tech. The turn indicators (front and rear) now sequentially light up in the direction indicated and this looks good and also acts as a visual indicator for oncoming traffic.