Audi to release a four-cylinder A8 in 2012 image

Just after Mercedes unveiled the S Class 250 CDI, Audi, announced today that would release a four-cylinder hybrid version of its range topping A8 in 2012.

Utilizing two power units – a 2.0 TFSI engine and an electric motor – the Audi A8 Hybrid will have a combined output of 245PS and 480Nm of torque, giving the car the same performance as a large-capacity conventional six-cylinder engine.

“Downsizing shouldn’t limit drivingcharacteristics,” said Eric Felber, a spokesman for Audi. “It’s important to offer a certain degree of performance in this segment.” Felber said.

The introduction of the new small-engine A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class will help consumers in countries slugged with taxes based on carbon-dioxide emissions.

Also, BMW, which this year dropped the 8-cylinder in the 7-Series in favor of a 6-cylinder engine says that it isn’t planning to follow Mercedes-Benz by rolling out a 4-cylinder version of the flagship sedan.

“I like selling 7-series cars with six- and eight- cylinders,” Reithofer said at 2010 Paris Motor Show. “What we need to offer with these cars in the future is electrification.”