Making its world debut at the Beijing Auto Show next week, the 2011 Audi A8L will go on sale in the U.S. this fall. Like its standard-wheelbase sibling that arrives at that time, this stretched variant will take on foes like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S Class. However, with its additional passenger space and more prestigious persona, the long-wheelbase model promises to season its sporting character with an even greater dose of comfort and convenience. Beijing also will mark the first public showing of Audi's new W12 engine that will be available as an A8L option in the U.S. starting next spring.

>2011 Audi A8 Revealed at 2009 LA Auto Show

Longer on luxury

In addition to growing 5.3 inches in length, the A8L boasts an extra 5.1 inches of wheelbase. Virtually all of that distance goes into turning the A8's already generously proportioned rear quarters into an even more accommodating realm. Beyond its rich wood and leather appointments and mega-load of standard premium features, the A8L will offer extras like an optional 1400-watt Bang & Olufsen Advanced sound system as well as the trick First Class Package that adds individual power-reclining rear seatbacks, footrests and more.

Powering up

Like the standard-wheelbase A8, the A8L will come with a revamped version of Audi's 4.2-liter FSI V8. Direct-injected and fitted with variable intake valve lift, it makes 372 horsepower in 2011 spec compared to the 350 count of its predecessor. Backed by a new eight-speed automatic transmission, Audi is projecting either A8 will sprint from 0-60 mph in less than 5.7 seconds and offer 15 percent better fuel economy. The star of the show, and an A8L exclusive, is the new 6.3-liter FSI W12. Audi's first direct-injected twelve-cylinder engine not only offers more muscle -- 500 horsepower versus the 450 count in the 6.0-liter W12 used previously -- but promises its own 12-percent bump in mpg. Audi also says this new W12 will send the A8L sprinting to 60 mph in under 4.9 ticks. Regardless of engine or wheelbase, all versions of the 2011 Audi A8 will continue to put power to the pavement via standard Quattro all-wheel drive. No word yet on pricing for the 2011 Audi A8 or A8L, but the base A8 seems likely to start in the $75,000-$80,000 range.

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