It's likely the last time we'll see the W12 fitted to an Audi model.

Our spies have already caught the Audi A8 facelift testing with the standard wheelbase and in the hotter S8 specification, but this is the first time they’ve laid their eyes on the stretched model. There could be more to the story as our omnipresent photographers noticed a tiny piece of camouflage at the base of the C-pillar that could hint at the car’s true identity.

The disguise located just above the rear door handles wasn’t there on the regular A8 or the spicy S8 prototypes, so it’s a bit interesting as to why Audi decided to hide that area in particular on the extra-long flagship. Could it be the ultra-luxurious version bound to revive the “Horch” name? There might be an “H” logo hiding underneath that swirly disguise seeing as how the Four Rings announced the posh A8 during its Annual General Meeting in 2018.

Gallery: 2022 Audi A8 L Horch (not confirmed) spy photos

Back then, it was described as an “especially luxurious and prestigious derivative.” It doesn’t look all that different compared to the A8 L available today, but that’s because most of the upgrades will be found inside the cabin. Rumours say Audi will give it “equipment beyond the regular A8” and we’re expecting some subtle tweaks on the outside, too.

It is believed the A8 L Horch will ride on a unique set of wheels, although this prototype didn’t have them as it was riding on a smaller set with winter tyres. Interestingly, the same rumours are suggesting a Horch badge will be installed either on the front wings/fenders or on the C-pillars. The production model is likely getting discreetly modified bumpers in the same vein as the Maybach S-Class has a slightly different look compared to the Benz S-Class.

While the S-Class with the double M logo is even longer than the Benz, it is believed the A8 in the posh Horch specification will retain the same wheelbase as the A8 L. It could go down in history as the very last Audi to rock the W12 engine. Whether it will be a limited-run special edition or a permanent trim level remains to be seen, but we’re inclined to believe it will be the former scenario. Once the Horch bows out, the only way to get a W12 will be by stepping up to a Bentley.

If you’re unfamiliar with “Horch,” it was founded in 1904 by August Horch as Horch & Cie Motorwagenwerke AG. Horch founded a second company – August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH – just five years later, after having issues with the chief financial officer at the original company. In 1910, August Horch had no other way but to rename the second company as Audi Automobilwerke since he didn’t hold the rights to the already registered “Horch” name.

Horch

Fast forward to 1932, both Horch and Audi merged with DKW and Wanderer to create Auto Union AG, with today’s logo symbolising the merger of the four brands. Several top managers of the company fled Bavaria after World War II to form Auto Union GmbH in Ingolstadt in 1949. In April 1958, Daimler-Benz bought a majority stake in the company, only to sell it in 1964 to Volkswagen. Five years later, Auto Union merged with NSU to become Audi NSU Auto Union AG before the official name was shortened in 1985 to the Audi AG we know today.