It’s thought that the engineers’ remit involves maintaining the current models’ sporty reputation whilst giving them a wider range of dynamic attributes. This will include developing more a involving steering feel and more pliant ride settings, where necessary.
It has always been the priority of Audi, to maintain a handling and ride balance that gives the driver the outward impression of piloting a sporty car, yet is in no way exhausting to drive, particularly on the motorway. The current crop of Audis ride much better than their predecessors, but are still criticized as having dynamics that are uninvolving for the driver.
Audi are targeting the top-selling Mercedes-Benz S-Class as a rival for the A8 in the comfort stakes, whilst overhauling and enhancing the car’s dynamic capabilities.
The concentration on long-distance comfort is set to remain a priority, especially on the larger, more mainstream models. It’s thought that the advances in the calibration of electrically assisted power steering – brought into being by emissions regulation – and the new suspension technology are expected to see a difference in ride and handling characteristics.
It’s thought that the faster S and RS models are most likely to benefit from the improved technology, with the ride and handling benefits said to be compatible with all models.
In addition, the A3 and A1 are scheduled to get a markedly more compliant ride, following feedback from customers suggesting ride comfort to be more important than a ‘sporty’ feel.
These developments will coincide with a new facelift for Audi who are under the new stewardship of design leader Marc Lichte, who joined the company in 2014 from another stable of the VW group. He was asked for his vision on how the new A8 should look. The Audi Prologue concept gives perhaps the best indication of the new direction he intends to take the fleet, with the A8 set to be unveiled next year.