Audi A8 with active ride suspension
Smoothing out the road: A8 active suspension
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  • New Audi A8 enjoyed Barcelona début
  • Fully active suspension system improves comfort and handling
  • Dynamic all-wheel steering
  • Suspension rises in event of side impact to protect occupants

 

THE Audi A8  is already one of the most comfortable luxury cars on the market. So could you make it even more comfortable and luxurious?

You could stuff the interior full of feathers but that might have an adverse effect on visibility. Which is probably why Audi did something a bit more technical and less likely to make you sneeze.

Not that the feather idea wouldn’t work but we have to admit Audi’s idea of active suspension is much more in keeping with the new A8 saloon it will be attached to.

Somebody at Audi sat down one day and decided that the ride quality of the A8 wasn’t exceptional enough. If you’ve ever driven an A8, or even been driven in an A8, you may have noticed that the ride quality is already sublime, as befits a luxury saloon from a renowned luxury saloon manufacturer. Nevertheless the decision was taken and the result is the active suspension system that will be available on the all-new A8 recently unveiled in Barcelona.

You may have to forgive the technical detail but this latest innovation is fantastically simple in concept and amazingly clever and complex in practice. Directors of SME companies may want to pay attention because once you’ve heard what it does it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll want it when you replace your current car.

The new active suspension is an electromechanical system that uses an individual 48v electric motor on each wheel. Using a system of gears, torsion bars, and levers it can exert up to 1,100Nm on the suspension. Each wheel can be adjusted individually to minimise body roll in corners and limit the pitching movements under braking and acceleration. The result is a car that can be driven dynamically and still remain under control.

Sounds impressive doesn’t it?

It gets better.

The active suspension is connected to a front-mounted camera that monitors the road surface as you drive along. Before you reach a bump or a corner, the A8 has seen what’s coming, worked out exactly how long it will take to reach it, and made all the necessary adjustments to the suspension to ensure all the jolts and vibrations are eliminated from your journey. In case you were wondering the entire process is repeated 18 times per second.

Audi A8 active suspension - parked
Audi A8: active suspension makes parking easy too

We’ll wait to see how it performs in real life once the new A8 is revealed but based on what we know so far it’s likely the last time anyone had a ride this smooth his name was Aladdin and he was sitting on a flying carpet.

There are a couple of other benefits to the system that are less luxurious but still quiet useful. Combined with the active suspension the new A8 will also be available with Dynamic all-wheel steering. This should make the A8 even more stable at speed and also gives it a turning circle smaller than that of the A4 saloon. Very practical in the smallest of car parks.

The active suspension also works in conjunction with Audi’s pre sense 360˚ safety system to raise collision safety to a new level. Literally in this case. Sensors monitor the immediate surroundings and if they detect an imminent collision from the side will raise the suspension by 80mm within half a second. Lifting the side of the car means the impact is taken on the strongest areas of the car like the sills and floor structure rather than the thinner skin of the doors. Raising the car this way can reduce the impact for the occupants by up to 50 percent.

We said it was a bit technical. What we should have said is, WOW!

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