This unlovely and glacially slow-selling car was, bravely, replaced by a car boasting an aluminium spaceframe and body. The new A8 had looks and technology on its size, a combination that proved sufficiently powerful in the marketplace to ensure an eight-year model cycle, and it was replaced by the outgoing A8 in 2002.
You need very little time in Audi’s latest A8 to confirm the scope of its ambition. Just as Audi itself is throwing model after model at the market in its drive to establish not just credibility amid its more established BMW and Mercedes rivals but something closer to superiority, so too can you detect a change of aspiration for its flagship.
If the original A8 can now be seen as an admirable first effort and the second a plausible alternative to its opponents, the third has the looks, specification, technology and very demeanour that no longer meekly suggest it might be as good as a Mercedes S-Class, but almost dare you to say it isn’t actually a damned sight better. Inglostadt's hastiness to facelift the A8 in 2014, was done with sound rationale in mind, as Stuttgart giant Mercedes-Benz was readying its new S-Class - which we now know is the benchmark for any car claiming luxury pretensions.