- Published in Features.
OEMs usually select their big luxury cars to launch technology into the market then, over time, cascade it down to the lower segments.
Audi is no exception. The latest A8 brings with it sat-nav-guided LED headlights and transmission control, solar-cell roof panels, Flexray databus and in-car internet, which are all likely to appear in other models in the future.
Systems that help in developing maximum lateral g in corners are usually best left to smaller, lighter models.
Which is probably why the firm introduced its torque vectoring rear differential in the high-performance D-segment S4 quattro sedan.
But now Audi has integrated this technology into the A8’s all-wheel drive system too. It’s an option on all models except the V8 TDI diesel, which has it as standard. The aim is to neutralise understeer during fast cornering, improve steering response, and increase vehicle stability during power-off transients such as lifting off the accelerator mid-bend.
“We think this is the sportiest car in the luxury segment,” says Dr Ralf Schwarz, Audi’s head of chassis control systems development. “When you look at it from the outside you can see it’s a big car. But as soon as you’re in it you’d think you were driving something from the compact class.”
That would be some achievement, especially since, at 5,137mm, the A8 is 75mm longer than its predecessor and almost 1m longer than the C-segment A3. “Traction and safety improvements are a given, but we also wanted to improve agility because that’s what the customer actually experiences,” says Schwarz.
BMW uses torque vectoring on its all-wheel drive X6 crossover but the system isn’t available on the 7 Series, one of the A8’s main competitors.