2011 Audi A8

Audi has announced prices for its U.S.-spec 2011 A8 flagship sedan. The base model starts at $78,050 when it reaches dealers in November. The long-wheelbase A8L goes from $84,000.

These prices are a significant increase over last year's A8, which started at $74,550 for the base model. But this is an all-new generation and still undercuts German rivals like the BMW 750i, which starts at $82,000, and the Mercedes-Benz S550, from $91,600.

The complete list equipment has not yet been confirmed, but standard features include all-wheel drive, heated seats, 19-inch wheels, Bose surround sound audio setup and Audi's touch-screen Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, which incorporates navigation. Options include seat ventilation, adaptive cruise control and a rear-seat entertainment package featuring dual screens and Bluetooth headphones.

Power comes from a 372-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. That's an increase of 22 hp and two gear ratios over the last A8, meaning improved acceleration and fuel economy. However, it still doesn't match rival V8s for power: Mercedes-Benz offers 382 hp in the S550, while BMW's 750i enjoys 400 hp.

Audi has also provided pricing for another all-new 2011 model: the R8 V8 Spyder open-top sports car. Previously available only with a 5.2-liter V10, a 430-hp 4.2-liter V8 brings the car's base price down to $127,700, versus the original's $161,000. The cheapest way into an R8, though, remains a V8 coupe, which starts at around $115,000.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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