MUNICH -- Audi has added new technologies and fuel-efficient engines to its new A8 to help its flagship sedan fight against the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 Series.
Audi says the new A8's fuel consumption has dropped by 13 to 22 percent compared with the current car, thanks to technologies such as an energy recuperation system and innovative thermal management.
The carmaker is working on an A8 with a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain but probably will not introduce a diesel hybrid A8, CEO Rupert Stadler told journalists at the car's unveiling in Miami on Monday.
The A8's most fuel-efficient model equipped with a Europe-only 204hp, 3.0-liter diesel engine will have CO2 emissions of 159 grams per kilometer (255.89 g/mile) and use 6 liters of fuel per 100km (39.2 U.S. mpg). In Europe, A8 customers will also have the choice of a 350hp, 4.2-liter diesel.
In all markets including North America the A8 will be offered with a 372hp 4.2-liter gasoline engine.
All engine versions have a new 8-speed tiptronic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
The fourth-generation A8 will have new driver assistance systems, full LED headlights and technologies such as night vision assist and Audi's pre-sense safety system when it goes on sale early next year in Europe and toward the end of 2010 in North America.
The latest A8 is longer and wider than the current model at 5137 mm (16.85 feet) in length and 1949 mm (6.39 feet) in width. It also is longer and wider than the S class and 7 series but not as high.
"The new Audi A8 is the sportiest sedan in its segment," Stadler said in a statement.
Audi said it will market the A8 as "driver's car" with sportiness and driving dynamics in focus. A long-wheel drive version also will be launched that will balance "prestige, sportiness and comfort."
The A8 is built in Neckarsulm, Germany, along with the R8, A6 and A5 Cabriolet.
A8 global sales are well behind those of the 7 series and S class.
BMW built 43,036 units of the 7 series in the first 10 months while Mercedes produced 33,015 S-class models and Audi built 6,574 A8 sedans, according to J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting.