Audi will introduce a new version of the A8 luxury sedan later this year, but it will be a face lift rather than the all-new A8 that is expected for 2016. The update Audi A8 will, however, be the brand's first production car with LED Matrix headlights.
Audi announced its LED Matrix headlights at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The system uses 25 individual LEDs in each headlight, and a camera system that checks for oncoming traffic. An automatic high-beam feature automatically dims the LEDs facing oncoming traffic, which prevents dazzling other drivers but still illuminates other parts of the roadway. Other tricks include the ability to highlight pedestrians by illuminate them with three blinks of light, and angling headlight illumination around corners. Audi electronics chief Ricky Hudi previously described the LED Matrix system as, " a high-beam headlight you can drive with all the time, without blinding anyone."
An Audi spokesman says that while the company promises the "new A8… is appearing on the market at the end of 2013," that car is simply a face-lifted model. The totally new next-generation Audi A8 isn't expected to debut until 2015 or 2016. The American-specification Audi A8 won't debut until sometime in 2014; the European model will debut at a major auto show before the end of this year -- possibly Frankfurt in September.
The other bad news is that Audi's LED Matrix headlights have yet to be certified for use on U.S. roads, even though the European Union has approved them. A spokesman said the company is hopeful that American rule makers will allow the advanced headlights because, "We think [they're] actually a huge safety factor and are better for the driver."
The 2014 Audi A8 added a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 engine. It's unclear what will change on the refreshed model. Previous spy photos showed skinner headlights mimicking those on the new Audi A3, as well as revised bumpers, a narrower front grille opening, and new taillights.
After this refreshed model, an all-new Audi A8 will debut by 2015 or 2016. It will use a lighter and stiffer aluminum frame based on the Audi MLBevo modular chassis employed by the next A5 and A4. It could introduce a new e-quattro all-wheel-drive system, which would employ electric motors to drive the rear wheels and could allow for up to 15 miles of electric-only propulsion. A plug-in hybrid model is also a possibility.