The wraps have just come off the all-new 2011 Audi A8, which is set to sail into showrooms in the second half of next year with a choice of V-6 and V-8 powerplants.

As the fourth generation of the flagship A8 sedan, the 2011 A8 offers an all-new look and a range of updated technology. But what it will also offer is a brand new, high-performance S8 variant.

According to Audi design director Stefan Sielaff, the new S8 will be a very important model in the automaker’s lineup as it will influence the design of future performance models wearing the four-ring logo.

"It will create a new design grammar which will also go onto the next S6, S7 and S1," said Sielaff, confirming the development of hotted-up versions of the upcoming A7 four-door coupe and A1 compact.

As for the new range of S models, Sielaff revealed that they would have more visual differentiation over the standard models than the current range. He also explained that the cars would have more aluminum and carbon-fiber trim inside the cabin to emphasize their performance aspect to occupants.

No details about the S8’s new powertrain were revealed but expect it to feature a forced-induction V-8 engine rather than the Lambo-sourced V-10 of the current model.