The Audi A8 has been an engaging, driver-focused full-size sedan since its introduction in 1994, and in celebration of 21 years of A8, Audi announced plans to build a special edition Audi A8 Edition 21. Available in the UK only, the Edition 21 takes exterior styling and interior comfort to another level, but how does it compare to the original 1994 A8?
Originally unveiled in February of 1994 at the Geneva Auto Show, the first Audi A8 was a tour-de-force of technical advancement. Where Audi’s previous flagship sedan, the Audi V8, utilized an traditional all-steel construction, the 1994 A8 arrived sporting an aluminum shell, allowing for increased chassis rigidity and significant weight savings. To match contemporary offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi offered the A8 in both standard and long-wheelbase configurations––the A8 L allowed customers to enjoy limousine-like legroom and unsurpassed comfort in addition to a torquey 2.8-liter V6.
The first-generation A8 was a platform for many of Audi’s stellar technical achievements. For 1997, the first year that the A8 was available for the US market, Audi introduced electronic stability control and front and rear side airbags on the A8––no other production car at the time could boast that airbag configuration. In addition, 1997 marked the addition of the legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system on the Audi A8, with Quattro-equipped A8s also receiving the first generation of Audi’s classic 4.2-liter V8. Even Audi’s famous “warm weather package,” which equipped A8s with a sunroof solar panel capable of running interior ventilation fans, made its debut on Audi’s refreshed 1999 A8.
Given the important position that the A8 occupies in Audi history, it’s a perfect reference point from which to evaluate the brand-new Audi A8 Edition 21.
A limited-edition variant, only 121 A8 Edition 21s will be produced for the British market, and in keeping with A8 history, the Edition 21 sports many technological advancements that will trickle down the Audi lineup during years to come. With respect to the standard A8, the Edition 21 wears redesigned, S8-type front and rear bumpers and side sills, and, most importantly, it utilizes Audi’s hotly-anticipated Matrix LED headlamps and taillamps. These fully-digital lights are intelligent and active, and should the system detect an oncoming driver during headlamp high-beam operation, the blinding portion of the lights will be neutralized, allowing A8 drivers to continue into fully illuminated roadway without endangering other traffic.
On the interior, the Edition 21 wears a unique seat trim configuration from Audi exclusive, available either in cognac brown with black contrasting stitching or black leather with red contrasting stitching. Of course, the driver and passenger can enjoy 22-way adjustable front seats with lumbar and side-bolster support, while a Bose premium audio system takes care of entertainment. Door sills are marked with an exclusive “Edition 21” emblem, and this high-spec A8 also receives Audi’s advanced parking system, giving the driver a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Interestingly, like the original 1994 A8, the Edition 21 hides a V6 under its hood, albeit a 3.0-liter TDI V6 good for 262 PS and an incredible 580 Nm of torque. Power is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission, and peak torque is evolved at just 1,750 RPM, meaning that acceleration from a standstill and freeway passing are effortless. Best of all, the TDI powertrain can return up to 47.1 mpg UK in the standard wheelbase model, letting you enjoy monstrous performance without compromise.
Audi has stood at the forefront of lighting, chassis, and all-wheel-drive development for decades, and both of these high-tech A8s fit perfectly with the Audi ethos. Which do you think is a better expression Audi culture? Please leave your comments below.
Please enjoy this TFLcar.com video review of the 2014 Audi A8 TDI.