Audi does their damnedest to disguise it, but at its core, their flagship A8—like the A4 and the A6—is a front-wheel-drive car. They try to cover it up with all-wheel-drive (indeed, you can’t buy one with AWD in the U.S.), but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s fundamentally a FWD vehicle. Which makes it something of an anomaly in the full-size German luxury sedan segment. There are plenty of people out there who like vehicles that are anomalies. But most of those people aren’t the same ones shopping for large luxury cars.
The next generation A8 might change all that. Rumors continue to abound that the next all-new A8 will share VW’s modular large sedan platform with the next Porsche Panamera, likely along with the next Bentley Continental (or another large Bentley sedan), the Lamborghini Estoque (should it ever come to pass) and possibly even the Bugatti Galibier. Since that platform will be RWD-based, this means the A8 would no longer be as closely connected to the A4 and A6 as it currenrtly is—and would no longer have any toes in the FWD world. (It also means an end to the A8′s days as an aluminum-bodied sedan, as the big car would go over to a body made of aluminum, high-strength steel and composites.)
In the mean time, however, Audi plans a modest exterior freshening for the current A8 next year, reportedly intending to give it a less anonymous appearance and some additional power from engines like the W12 and turbodiesel V8. We’ll know about that next year, and about the A8′s platform plans in a few more. [via Car and Driver]