After checking out more of the press release I have a few bits of information I want to add to my previous post.
The first one is availability: September 2008, for $1495. I hope this doesn't mark a linear increase in price of the ZF line, but if the lens is stellar-good then it's a sound investment.
The second one is that the hood is a "perfect hood", tulip-shaped rather than barrel-shaped:
Lastly, I also spent some time poring over the sample images to try and deduce what the performance is like.
Zeiss is claiming best-in-class correction of aberrations for the 3.5/18 Distagon. Conveniently one of the sample images is a high-constrast image of sunlit plants against a darker wall. This image appears to have been shot at or close to full aperture because more distant objects are not in focus. I find Zeiss' claim is supported by the evidence, there is hardly any chromatic aberration in this image, even up to the near (vertical) border.
As for judging corner resolution, none of the sample images were really useful. One has nothing in the corners, two more have low-constrast tree branches further obscured by light fall-off. The same image I used to judge aberrations only has a stucco texture in the corner. This really isn't much to go by.
I see a drop in contrast, but more importantly a loss of light. I wouldn't rely on this too much. I think at minimum it tells us the Distagon doesn't fail in the corners. I'm feeling hopeful at this point.