- An Audi with video, fax machine and personal computer
- Members of the royal family also drove V8s
- The standard equipment outclassed all competitors
An Audi with video, fax machine and personal computer
The Audi V8 came onto the market in 1988, and a year later Audi also offered the V8 as a long version L.
The V8, Audi’s first full-size car, offered all-wheel drive as standard and won two DTM titles. Even kings loved it in the long version, but this was not reflected in the sales figures.
E.It was hard work for the Audi communicators: No, the Audi V8 is not a successor to the legendary Horch V8 from the 1930s, they repeated stoically in front of media representatives who were invited to the press presentation of the new flagship under the sign of the four rings in 1988 was.
Audi was more important than the reference to the glorious past the future unique position in the luxury league: “Audi is moving upwards – into the highest segment of the international automobile market. No other brand around the world offers – not even on request – what is supplied as standard in the new Audi V8. "
Anyone thinking of this full-bodied promise of exclusive comfort equipment was not wrong – this is how Rolls-Royce house supplier Connolly used the finest leather qualities in the Audi V8 Classic – but it was also about high-tech. Under the leadership of Ferdinand Piëch, no technical effort was too expensive for the Ingolstadt-based company for the V8 built at the Neckarsulm site.
Technically, the Audi V8 had a lot ahead of its competitors, but the sales figures remained modest
As the world’s first luxury sedan with standard all-wheel drive and 32-valve eight-cylinder in aluminum construction and a fully galvanized body, the Audi V8 ventured into thin air. To where Mercedes seemed omnipotent and even twelve-cylinder brands such as Jaguar and BMW achieved only respectable successes. An incentive for Audi to be better.
From 1990 onwards, the V8 demonstrated its dynamic driving qualities in motorsport and won the title of the German Touring Car Championship two years in a row. Picture book victories that earned the 4.87 meter long sedan respect, but not enough buyers.
For the time being, executive board vehicles and state limousines without a star remained the exception, as Audi and BMW, according to the common automotive hierarchy, were more responsible for social climbers than for executives.
General acceptance in the automotive upper house only found out about the Audi A8, which replaced the V8 in 1994, became the favored company car of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and fought for pole position in the sales statistics with the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. However, with the A8, Audi was also able to avoid important stumbling blocks that had stalled the V8’s assault.
Members of the royal family also drove V8s
The biggest problem area of the Audi V8 was its design language, which was almost confusingly similar to the smaller four- and five-cylinder model series 100 and 200. In fact, the King of the Rings, which cost around 100,000 marks, was originally supposed to have the type code 300; the prestigious name V8 was only determined shortly before the premiere.
At the same time, Audi gave its top model a more concise front, which should make it clear that the initially 250 hp and later up to 280 hp all-wheel drive were new designs. At least 90 percent, as Ferdinand Piëch emphasized.
Too bad that the external shape of the 3.6-liter and 4.2-liter V8 claimed otherwise. After all, wealthy lovers of understatement and performance-hungry high-tech fans immediately appreciated "the alternative in the upper class", as Audi called its thick ship.
Audi V8 Exclusive (from 1991) – a car that celebrities also like to be seen in
Among them are celebrities like Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger, fashion designer Otto Kern, Bundesbank President Karl Otto Pohl and the Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima. Members of the English and Spanish royal families were also chauffeured in the Audi V8.
The Audi V8 Lang presented in autumn 1989, which lived up to its name, offered appropriate comfort for the tasks as a “chauffeur and representation car for governments…” (interview press kit). The vehicle built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch (now Magna) in Austria achieved an exterior size of 5.19 meters, which clearly outclassed the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes SEL.
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The wheelbase of the V8 Lang grew by 32 centimeters to 3.02 meters, but narrowly missed the Stuttgart competition. The two passengers in the rear of the Audi will not have noticed such small meals, as they were able to enjoy the comfort of electrically adjustable individual seats. However, the prizes for this noblesse were also at the highest level.
Audi demanded at least 163,000 marks for the long-wheelbase V8; Bentley sedans were more expensive and Rolls-Royce. In return, the Audi offered avant-garde options that the conservative British had never dared to try.
For example, there was an innovative C-network telephone with an answering machine for the driver and rear passengers, which was almost as expensive as a new Citroën 2 CV (the call minute cost "only" two marks). The prices for futuristic features were also astronomical, such as a fax machine in the rear center armrest (9,000 marks) and the video system with remote control (8,000 marks).
The standard equipment outclassed all competitors
In addition, Audi presented a portable “personal computer” that could communicate via telephone. So much office technology called for its own model variant: the Audi V8 L Office was one of the public stars at the Frankfurt IAA in 1989, as it presented itself like the spaceship Enterprise. Anyone who, despite all the spacey technologies, did not want to do without conventional folding tables – "so that documents can be filed and studied in peace," as Audi advertised – could order them for a lifted price of 4,500 marks.
The discerning V8 customer should be king at Audi, and the brand underlined this in a way that was reminiscent of the glamorous Horch sedans of the pre-war era and outclassed all current competitors in terms of standard equipment. Be it the upholstery in the finest leather or pure wool, aluminum wheels in what was then the stately 7.5×15-inch format, the high-end sound system or the automatic air conditioning – everything was in the basic price of around 100,000 marks for the 3.6-liter V8 already included.
Audi V8 in motorsport with Hans-Joachim Stuck in 1992
However, this made the Audi V8 significantly more expensive than the Mercedes S-Class, for example with a 5.0 liter V8 engine. Too high a price for too little prestige, found quite a few potential customers. Which is why Audi expanded its range. On the one hand through a V8 basic version, which was 17,000 marks cheaper by omitting the air conditioning, leather upholstery and audio system.
On the other hand, through the so-called Classic Line with a customization program, the variety of which was reminiscent of exclusive English manufacturers. A commitment that prepared the ground for the later Audi A8, but did not really accelerate sales of the V8. With a total of 21,565 vehicles sold, it missed the original targets by more than half.
The all-wheel drive could really shake the establishment with its formidable driving characteristics. The Quattro concept in the business jet with a speed of up to 150 km / h made it possible – and let the competition work on their own all-wheel drive concepts. Technical refinements such as two automatic differential locks, internal disc brakes and of course the compact twin-camshaft V8 also showed that Audi had dared to go upstairs to stay.
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