The Audi A8 is a four-door, full-size, luxury sedan manufactured and marketed by the German automaker Audi since 1994. Succeeding the Audi V8, and now in its fourth generation, the A8 has been offered with both front- or permanent all-wheel drive—and in short- and long-wheelbase variants.
The first two generations employed the Volkswagen Group D platform, with the current generation deriving from the MLB platform. After the original model's 1994 release, Audi released the second generation in late 2002, the third in late 2009, and the fourth and current iteration in 2017.
A mechanically-upgraded, high-performance version of the A8 debuted in 1996 as the Audi S8. Produced exclusively at Audi's Neckarsulm plant, unlike the donor A8 model, the S8 has been available only in short-wheelbase form and is fitted standard with Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system.
In 1982, Ferdinand Piëch signed an agreement with Aluminum Company of America. The objective was to design and develop a car that would be substantially lighter than any other vehicles in its class (to compensate for the fact that standard all-wheel drive was around 100 kg heavier than competitors' rear-wheel drive). In the late 1980s, it was decided that the target vehicle would be a successor to the V8 (Typ 4C) flagship introduced in 1988. By 1990, a final design by Chris Bird and Dirk van Braeckel was chosen and frozen for series production in mid-1991. In September 1993, the Audi Space Frame (ASF) Concept was unveiled at the 1993 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) as a D2 Typ 4D prototype in polished aluminum. Pilot production began in December 1993 and development ended in early 1994, at a total cost of $700 million (£418.1 million)