Among the German prestige automakers, only Mercedes-Benz has an ultra-luxury division with Maybach. For years, BMW and Audi had to make do with their “standard” 7 Series and A8 models, but they still can't compete on price, luxury levels, or presence. But now, Audi wants to fight back.
Like Mercedes-Benz, Audi is possibly bringing back a name from the past to serve as its ultimate flagship model. The name Audi chose is Horch, which is deeply rooted in the automaker's history. Horch might soon see its badges back on the trunk lids of high-spec, long-wheelbase A8 sedans. With that, Audi can take it straight to Mercedes-Maybach.
Horch was founded in 1899 by its namesake, August Horch, and built its first car in 1901. From the start, Horch intended to build high-performance luxury automobiles for the upper classes. At first, they made single-cylinder cars but eventually moved up to four, six, eight, and twelve-cylinder roadsters, landaulets, and cabriolets. In 1932, Horch was merged (and eventually dissolved) into the Auto Union, which includes DKW, Wanderer, and Audi. That explains the now iconic four rings of Audi. And here's a bit of trivia; Audi is the Latin translation of Horch, which stands for “hark!” or “listen!” in old German.
Audi recently re-registered the name in late 2019 and revived the logo for a trademark that year. If anything, it shows Audi's intention to use the brand again. If those plans come to fruition, Audi-Horch might even be a German rival to Rolls-Royce. That said, there could be some in-fighting within the Volkswagen Auto Group as Audi and Bentley are part of the family. It's interesting to see how Audi will position the Horch models.
At the moment, development test mules of the ultra-luxury saloon are out in the open. However, it's still hiding a lot of details and looks largely like an extra-long A8. We're expecting high levels of luxury, technology, and high-grade materials in the flagship model. As for the engine, the 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 power plant might reside under the hood.
For now, Audi isn't mentioning much about the Horch revival. However, we could see the German automaker applying that name to other high-end models in the future. Should the A8 Horch be a success, we might even see a Q7-based version that could take on the Mercedes-Mayback GLS, Rolls-Royce Cullinan, and Bentley Bentayga.