With the sixth-gen BMW 7 Series already on sale for more than a year and the all-new Lexus LS heading to dealerships, Audi really needs to step up its game in terms of a flagship. That’s especially once you take into consideration Mercedes is about to give the S-Class a tech-laden refresh later this week at the Auto Shanghai in China.

Here we have the “uncensored” version of the overhauled A8, stripped down to reveal the predominantly aluminum-made underpinnings. 58 percent of the body’s bits and pieces are built from this type of metal, which represents the biggest share in the fullsize sedan’s mix of materials also including steel, magnesium, and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP).

One of the attached images comes to reveal Ingolstadt’s massively upgraded range topper will feature a roomier rear compartment with 28 millimeters (1.1 inches) of extra knee room. In addition, passengers relaxing on the back seats will get to enjoy an additional 14 mm (0.5 inches) of headroom. Moreover, getting in and out of the A8 will be easier than before after a 36-mm (1.4-inch) stretch at the door cutouts. Bear in mind all of these figures refer to the standard-wheelbase version, so it goes without saying the A8L will be even more spacious.

2018 Audi A8 New Spy Photos
2018 Audi A8 New Spy Photos

The completely reworked body structure will make the new executive sedan approximately 25 percent stiffer than before. Using Audi’s own words: it “surpasses the excellent values of its predecessor by a factor of about one fourth.”

Spotted recently with minimal camouflage, the next A8 will herald a somewhat new design language previewed by the stunning Prologue concepts. It will trickle down onto lesser models of the range in the years to come, with the A7 and A6 next in line to feature the updated look.

Next-generation Audi A8, A7, A6 official design sketch

To get everything ready for the A8’s arrival, Audi had to invest heavily in a new body shop at its Neckarsulm factory in Germany. No less than 14,400 metric tons of steel and in excess of 16,000 loads of concrete were necessary to set up the 41-meter-tall body shop. Approximately 500 people will be working in three shifts to handle body assembly of the new A8. If you like numbers, there are roughly 500 robots, 270 punch riveting systems, 90 resistance spot welding tongs, 90 adhesive systems, and 60 machines for self-tapping screws at the newly erected building.

The fourth-gen A8 will debut on July 11 at the first Audi Summit in Barcelona.

Source: Audi

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Gallery: 2018 Audi A8 and A8L body

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Looking ahead to the new Audi A8: Space Frame with a unique mix of materials

  • Luxury sedan living up to its reputation as an innovation driver in lightweight design
  • Comfortable entry and improved view thanks to roller hemming
  • Extraordinary torsional rigidity delivers gains in driving dynamics and acoustics
  • Know-how based on more than one million series cars with Audi Space Frames

Audi is writing a new chapter in its lightweight design success story. For the next generation of the Audi A8*, an intelligent mix of four materials is being used for the first time in the weight-bearing body structure – more materials than in any of the brand’s previous production models. The luxury sedan is thus once again rightfully claiming its role as an innovation driver in automotive lightweight design: Its low weight and impressive rigidity offer greater performance, efficiency and safety.

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