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Why We Should Be Thankful for Audi’s New A8

Robby DeGraff November 27, 2017 All Things Hoon 23 Comments

Have you heard about Audi’s latest A8 coming for the 2019 model year? It’s insane. Not just in the performance sense and not so much on the appearance front; but in all-things the technology that is. While on my lunch break, I stumbled across a video showing all of the new German luxobarge’s technology highlights (both standard and optional), and I’m not going to shy away from saying that I was in fact, impressed. Very.

Wowed to the point that my jaw dropped, actually. Some technology familiar and understandable, like four-wheel steering, which can be helpful in tight places or for more planted, confident driving around curves at higher speeds. The likes of front crash detection and that magic ability to see around corners using petite cameras on either side of the car’s bumper, are both smart gadgets that have been available for years now and for the most part, almost mainstream across the board.

But then there were a few new tricks the A8 showed off, like this fancy thing called “Pre sense side.” Intrigued, I continued watching. The clip shows a an objet skiing down a set of tracks right towards the passenger side of a 2019 A8. A clear barrier separates itself between the car the now-fast moving block, and right before the block slams into said barrier, the A8’s suspension on the targeted side, quickly lifts itself upward to (hypothetically) absorb the impact lower on the car rather than directly at the passenger. Within half-a-second, side-mounted radar sensors can detect an approaching object and push one side of the car upwards more than three-inches, forcing the harsh impact not on the door itself, but lower on the doorsill and floor structure. Brilliant. “That’s incredibly smart, well done Audi” I said to myself. This is of course, an option, part of Audi’s AI active suspension, but gosh I hope to see this more commonly available on all cars. It triggered other questions of how else could a technology like this, be executed in nearly the same fashion? Could you raise the front of the car up on a second’s notice to avoid a head-on collision? The brainstorming session kept going, and I continued to research more deep into the rest of the car’s many new safety innovations. That was one of the big Aud’s new tech features I’ll gladly nod my head in approval of. Here’s the clip of it in action, cue to 7:07.

But there was one more technologic gimmick that triggered an immediate facepalm, vigorous head shaking, and hilarious “My gosh why…” questions.

Enter, “Audi AI parking and garage pilot,” in all its foolishness. Even the computer animated product demo video on Audi’s media site is full of ridiculousness. This feature may have just put the Tesla Model X’s childish second-row gullwing doors to shame for the most unnecessary, show-off feature on a production vehicle. Part of Audi’s steaming forward approach to autonomy in their cars is a feature that allows you to park your car, (in-and-out of a parking spot or even backing it out of garage stall) driverless. It’s now possible with the 2019 A8 to approach your home, hop out of the car, shut the door, and drive it into your garage by standing still using an app. You just stand there with your smart phone, tap and hold a button on the screen, and the A8’s plethora of radars and sensors does the rest, perfectly and delicately parking the car in its spot. I guess I could see this coming in handy say, if you’re docking your four-ringed luxury liner into a narrow spot, but that’s about it. Let’s be realistic…wouldn’t you rather drive around for a few more seconds to find and park in a better, more spacious parking spot, free from the fears of door dings? I’d much rather do that than attempt to rely on my Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy to hopefully park my Über-expensive ride, safe and sound.

But in all reality, this “shock” that it’ll soon be possible to park your car in your own garage or in a surface lot spot via a downloadable app, shouldn’t be a surprise to me. We live in a world now where one could walk into a dealership and drive home a 707 horsepower Jeep.

So that James Bond-esque feature? Eh, I’m definitely not thankful for it, but I am grateful for the laughs. The fantastic, aforementioned safety feature that will greatly reduce injuries sustained during side-impact crashes? Danke schön, Audi.

  • Maymar

    Having had to park a Kia Ce’ed in Oxford, UK (where it felt absolutely enormous), I suspect that’s not really a feature designed for the North American market.
    Also, irrelevant, but this new A8 looks like the Audi version of what the new Continental should have been, instead of sort of a letdown.

    • crank_case

      Was thinking the same, European cars are getting bigger, but spaces smaller than when most of us drove Peugeot 205s and you could still buy a “proper” Mini new.

      • outback_ute

        And now most C-segment cars are 1800mm wide! At what point to the segments get reset?

        • crank_case

          Once the VW Golf gets equipped with its own m̶o̶o̶n̶ space station.

          • outback_ute

            Already the Polo is effectively the Golf

            • crank_case

              Its the mk3 Golf at this stage, an Up! does everything a mk1 did, there’s even a GT I now.

  • Ol’ Shel’

    So long as the side-lifting system doesn’t end in roll-overs with worse injuries. It seems to be pre-rolling the car, and after the impact, the car is likely to spin out, turning right, and a port-side lean may not be what’s wanted for that, either.

    • Monkey10is

      I guess they are more worried about preventing side intrusion; this is the measures you take when you are already confident in the car’s ability to protect the occupants in a rollover situation or secondary impacts.

      Whether that is the correct priority — proved from crash analysis — or just a response to the various international testing standards is harder to answer.

      • They don’t do things unless it’s a selling point: The “side impact protection”, a steel bar inside the door, was quasi-standard the US in the 80ies already, but was marketed as “look we care about you so here’s an innovation” in Europe in the 90ies…
        But looking at what a driver of a SUV does to people in a sedan, roll-overs are not your problem.
        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Ford_Focus_versus_Ford_Explorer_crash_test_IIHS.jpg/1024px-Ford_Focus_versus_Ford_Explorer_crash_test_IIHS.jpg

        • Monkey10is

          So which strategy would make the biggest difference to the likelihood of this kind of accident:
          (i) This year Audi sell a few hundred top-spec A8’s equipped with ‘pre-sense-side’?
          or
          (ii) This year Audi decide not to sell any more of the hundreds of thousands of Q8s, Q5s and Q3s they sell each year?

          (I know that if they did (ii) then all those customers would just buy the equivalent SUV from MB or BMW instead; but is this really tech introduced by Audi to mitigate the increased risks associated with the formats of vehicles Audi are selling?)

          • Monkey10is

            And whilst I’m thinking dangerously on this topic:

            If Audi just lowered the fender line across all of their range of SUVs wouldn’t that be a more effective solution?

            And wouldn’t that idea also help whenever one of their SUVs crashes into poor people, whereas ‘pre-sense-side’ only protects the plutocrats who have bought new A8s?

            • kogashiwa

              Alternatively, they could raise the beltline on the sedans?

              • Nah, that would look awful.

            • The social implications of this are horrible indeed…

              A side note on classes and crashes: They crashed Smart cars into S-Klasses throughout the generations, and while Smart owners would be tumbling across lanes (momentum is a vector after all), they probably would survive. What they would not survive was two Smarts in an offset crash, because the Smart “activates the safety zone of the partner in the encounter” (paraphrasing a marketing brochure here) – when there is none, there is none.

  • Vairship

    I predict Audi AI parking will be a big hit in Belgium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvGKxDlXgvQ

    • Amoore

      Kudos to him, our cars don’t even get garage space in California–although I wouldn’t yet trust radar and sensors to park anything in that slot canyon seeing as my XC70 starts going insane even five inches away from the nearest object.

      • outback_ute

        You mean the cars sit outside because all the garages are filled with crap?

        My favourite parking sensor experience was on a sloped parking space (nose up) off a steeply-crowned road – putting the car in reverse immediately set off the beeping because the car was detecting the road behind it as an obstacle!

        • Amoore

          Exactly! Table saws don’t like to live outside too much, and once you’ve got one in a 1.5 car garage it becomes tight to say in the least. Anyways, the sensors go off everytime I pull out of a steep driveway as well, Volvo was brilliant enough to put them in the leading edge of the skidplate so they’re always an inch or two forwards of the rest of the car itself…

        • Troggy

          Even better are the reversing sensors that don’t realise that the caravan or trailer will in fact move with the vehicle when backing up.

          • outback_ute

            That’s a good point, in theory the newer systems are supposed to detect when the trailer electrical plug is connected, but it doesn’t always happen.

  • Jonathan

    You can crack on the park-it-from-outside feature because of an American perspective, but go lol at some pics of Japanese parking garages, even residential ones. I don’t know how they even open the door to get out with some of those.

  • kogashiwa

    So setting aside the technology, … when did it become considered a virtue for the 911 to look exactly* the same as it had since it was introduced? Early 80’s or so? If so, since Audis have looked exactly** the same for about 20 years now, they should be about at that point?

    *pretty close
    **actually closer than the 911 did

    • If you don’t have the cash to change the design when it would have been due, call it “classic”. Once you called it like that, you’ve limited your future options…