Audi's test driver puts the pedal to the metal.

Heralding a new (sort of) design language for Audi, the next-generation A8 will be officially revealed on July 11 in Barcelona. However, the spicy S8 is unlikely to come out from day one, which means we will probably have to wait until the end of the year or early 2018. The hot fullsize sedan is a work in progress at this point considering the camouflaged prototype spotted this week at the Nürburgring had the body panels sourced from the regular A8. It did feature a quad exhaust setup and a lowered sports suspension, thus revealing its true identity.

Despite the extensive amount of camouflage, already we can observe some of the changes in tow for Ingolstadt’s new top dog. The rear end will host a pair of interconnected taillights, which will likely represent the most obvious change compared to the outgoing generation. Overall, the large-and-in-charge sedan will look sleeker, but sadly it won’t be as appealing as those Prologue concepts shown in recent years.

Developed by Audi Sport (formerly known as Quattro GmbH), the new S8 was being pushed to its limits by the test driver to obtain precious information about what needs to be tweaked to make sure the sporty executive sedan will live up to its status. Considering it will weigh somewhere in the region of two tons, it certainly won’t be as nimble as a Miata, but even so it will be able to conquer the miles seriously fast and in utmost luxury.

 

More S8:

 

As to what’s lurking underneath the hood, a biturbo 4.0-litre V8 engine is our guess. Expect the mill to surpass the output of the current S8 available with 520 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. For even more oomph, there will likely be an S8 Plus later in the model’s life cycle exceeding the magical 600-hp mark. Needless to say, both will be fitted with an automatic gearbox responsible for channeling power to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

In terms of performance, one could speculate that 0-100 kilometres per hour (0-62 miles per hour) will take four seconds or slightly less than that since the standard S8 you can buy today does the task in 4.1s. As usual, top speed will be electronically capped at 250 km/h (155 mph).

Aside from being quicker, the new S8 will also be larger and stiffer while the interior will provide additional space. But if you would rather be chauffeured, a more suitable choice will be the new extended-wheelbase A8L granting extra legroom in the back and equipped with a silky smooth biturbo 6.0-litre W12 engine shared with the Bentley Bentayga.

Audi has promised to bolster its RS portfolio, but with focus being on SUVs, an RS8 doesn’t seem to be on the agenda for the time being. The S8 Plus should suffice, though.

 

Note: Spy images below show a different prototype from a previous test session.

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