New Audi A8 suspension uses cameras to anticipate bumps

New Audi A8 suspension uses cameras to anticipate bumps”

Audi has formally unveiled its all-new A8 flagship saloon.

Hailed as the dawning of a new era for the German auto maker, the new flagship saloon has been comprehensively re-engineered. Audi intends it to mount a successful challenge against upmarket rivals such as the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Audi AI is the first self-driving system announced for production with "Level 3" self-driving capability. Hands can be removed from the wheel, and where local traffic rules allow, they're free to use other in-car technology such as watching TV or using social media, until the system reaches its limit.

The new active suspension will use an advanced camera system along with individual electric motors to help each wheel adapt to different road surfaces precisely. Audi claims the new A8 is the first seriesproduction road auto to have been developed expressly for what it describes as "highly automated driving".

Compared to the previous A8, the driver faces an absence of conventional buttons, and the previous rotary controller is nowhere to be seen. The extent of autonomous operation and driver disengagement will depend on local statutes; Audi says that it'll introduce traffic-jam pilot step-by-step after the A8 goes on sale. The new system manages starting, accelerating, braking and steering functions. Audi says it's still working out a framework to make the system is road-legal in this country.

The all new Audi A8 is set to take to United Kingdom roads towards the end of 2017. Audi's "singleframe" grille is made more prominent than ever - it's far wider and more upright than before, with angular new headlamps slicing the upper corners.

As with the third-generation model, on sale in the United Kingdom since 2009, the new A8 will be sold with the choice of two wheelbases. Both are 6mm longer than those of the old A8, at 2998mm and 3128mm. The A8L's 130mm-longer wheelbase extends its length to 5302mm, with added ride height bringing 4mm to its height, at 1488mm. Aluminium makes up 58% of the structure, but it also adopts steel, magnesium and carbonfibre, which forms the basis of the rear bulkhead.

When traffic-jam pilot is in command, the driver no longer needs to monitor the auto permanently.

At first, buyers will be able to choose between two engines in the A8: a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and a 335bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol.

In order to recognise its surroundings when driving in autonomous mode, data from all the A8's cameras, radar, ultrasonic sensors and laser scanner are combined to form an image of the road and traffic conditions. Developing the most convenient solutions. Every engine comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

Two additional engines, a 4.0-litre petrol and diesel, will be added soon after launch. That's 44bhp more than the old turbo 4.2-lite V8 engine that it replaces. The exclusive top engine version is the W12 with a displacement of 6.0-litres.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, a successor to today's S8 is set to run a powered-up version of the 4.0-litre turbo petrol unit used by the 4.0 TFSI.

Underpinning the auto is the latest version of the Volkswagen Group's Major League Baseball platform for front-wheel-drive cars with longitudinally mounted engines. So it's not a hybrid like the Prius or Audi's on e-tron plug-in hybrid. It will combine the 3.0-litre turbo petrol V6 with an electric motor for an overall system output of 443bhp.

The latest A8 is also said to boast emissions and economy improvements.

On sale from autumn 2017, with guide prices starting from €90,600 in Germany (that's around £80,000), the new A8 is 37mm longer and up to 17mm taller than the outgoing vehicle, but 4mm narrower.

In some ways, luxury saloons like the Audi A8 can't be judged by the same standards as other models.

Audi has yet to announce prices for the new A8, but expect them to start in the United Kingdom below £70,000 with the order book scheduled to open in September when the vehicle makes its public debit at the Frankfurt in September. With 505 litres of boot space on offer, though, the new A8 still lags behind both the S-Class and the 7 Series. Racing versions of the auto ran in the DTM, Germany's touring vehicle championship, winning the 1990 and 1991 titles.

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