Last week, Audi confirmed that the electric version of its full-size A8 luxury sedan would track closely to the design of the Grandsphere concept, a huge, low-slung, fastback-looking thing. So does this recently-published patent drawing matching that description give us a sneak peek at Audi's next flagship saloon?
UPDATE 1/30/2023 @ 6:30pm ET: Following publication of our initial story, Audi reached out to say that the design patent is actually for the Audi A6 E-Tron concept from 2021. We have no proof either way at this point, but it bears a strong resemblance to that concept, and its wheelbase does look more A6-sized than A8. The original story continues below.
The design was registered by Audi with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and published Jan. 10. It's described as "the ornamental design for a motor vehicle, toy vehicle replica and/or other replica," and shows a sedan of a similar design to 2021's Audi Grandsphere concept. Given Audi recently confirmed that the A8 E-Tron is coming within the next couple of years, this could be our first look at its design.
We can tell a handful of details about the car shown in the patent, starting with its filled-in grille, which tells us it's almost certainly an EV. There are cutouts in the roof for a rear liftgate, so this is likely a near-production design, and stalks with small pods on their ends instead of mirrors. This could indicate the A8 E-Tron uses cameras in place of conventional side mirrors, which would reduce drag but increase complexity and cost. They're probably not coming to U.S.-market models, though.
The A8 E-Tron was confirmed last week by Audi's design lead Marc Lichte, and will be one of more than 20 Audi EVs coming by 2026. Little is known about its mechanical makeup, though Carscoops indicates it'll use the PPE platform Audi developed with Porsche. That'd mean commonality with the smaller A6 E-Tron (also confirmed) and Porsche Macan EV. The A8 E-Tron is reportedly expected to utilize an 800-volt drivetrain and 120-kWh battery, and could match the Grandsphere concept's estimated 0-to-60 mph in the low four-second range.
That's far from the performance offered by the Tesla Model S Plaid or Mercedes-AMG EQS, but Audi's biggest sedan has never emphasized performance in the first place. Besides, that's what the TT and R8's electric successors will be for. Sometimes speed and comfort are sometimes best kept separate, even if Audi has proven it can blend the two without issue.
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