Audi’s A8 limousine gets a set of fancy electromechanical active suspension for that true magic carpet ride feeling
Photos: Lionel Kong
Luxury limousines are supposed to offer a plush and comforting ride, and for the most part they often do. But Audi’s A8 has now introduced something which takes that magic carpet ride feeling onto a another level.
Audi dubs it the predictive active suspension, and the S$26,000 optional feature uses cameras and the car’s sat-nav system to detect bumps, and prime the car’s suspension even before the car reaches them, for a silky smooth ride quality. Think of it as active noise cancellation technology, but for your bum instead of your ears.
Such a technology is not actually new or unique to Audi, and cars such as the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Mercedes-Benz S-Class offer something similar as well. But Audi’s system is run electro-mechanically via its 48-volt system that forms part of the car’s mild hybrid powertrain.
Small electric motors located at each of the four wheels assist in helping the actuators to constantly adjust the height of each individual wheel, and keep the car as level as possible. Audi says that using electricity to power the active suspension allows for quicker response and reaction times as compared to a similar hydraulic-powered system.
As a result, the car can be entirely lifted or lowered at up to 85 millimetres, and do it in just five-tenths of a second. You can see the magic happen as you lock or unlock the door, with the car lowering or raising itself in a very obvious fashion.
On the road, the system does work quite well. Eerily so in fact. Most road bumps are dismissed as though they simply don’t exist, and you can feel the system working subtly to adjust the suspension on the fly. As a passenger it works a treat, but for the driver there’s just that feeling of disconnect, as what you see on the road doesn’t quite tally with what you eventually feel.
It is quite a surreal sensation, but the magic suspension works in ways that go beyond ride comfort as well. Being able to adjust the dampers individually means that the A8 is capable of keeping the car level as you corner, and you can go through them almost flat in fact. That means virtually no body roll, and Audi even claims that the car is able to lean into a corner by up to 3 degrees. For a car of its size and stature, that’s pretty impressive, if a tad weird.
As a result, the A8 feels like a much smaller car to drive, and the car’s handling prowess is aided by the standard four-wheel-steering and quattro all-wheel-drive systems. It feels nimble and light on its feet, but there is still a tinge of understeer sometimes if you push a little too hard.
This is obviously a car that likes to take it easy, and if that’s what you’re looking for, the A8, with its smart new suspension, is very much suited to the task at hand. It doesn’t come cheap of course, with the S$430,999 retail price (with COE) of the 3.0 TFSI model tested here not inclusive of the fancy suspension. But for some, it’s probably well worth the price of entry if the reward is a truly comforting and undisturbed experience.
Audi A8 3.0 TFSI quattro
|Engine||2,995cc, V6, turbocharged|
|Power||340hp at 5000rpm|
|Torque||500Nm at 1370-4500rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 186g/km|
|Price||S$430,999 with COE|
|Verdict||Clever new electro-mechanical predictive suspension gives the A8 a comforting but surreal ride|