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. It seems the hot luxury saloon is a work in progress, given how 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, though, thus revealing its true identity.

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

Read our review of the current S8 Plus:

As to what’s lurking underneath the bonnet, a biturbo 4.0-litereV8 engine is our guess. Expect the motor 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, we estimate the 0-62 mph will take around four seconds or even slightly less than that since the standard S8 you can buy today does the task in 4.1s (and BMW's new M550i xDrive does it in four-dead). As usual, top speed will be electronically capped at 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 its 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 are showing a different prototype from a previous test session.

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