Interview Marc Lichte:
The new Audi A8 reflects the progressive face of the brand.”
Marc Lichte has been Head of Audi Design since 2014. On July 11, 2017 the fourth generation of the Audi A8 will be presented at the Audi Summit in Barcelona. The luxury sedan emphasizes a new design language.
There are just a few days left until the world premiere of the new A8. How important is this day for the Audi design?
Marc Lichte: With the world premiere of the Audi A8 in Barcelona, we will have come full circle. From the perspective of a designer, this is a place that stands out because of its special light conditions. Precisely for this reason, this is where we selected the design of our flagship car, together with our Board of Management, three years ago. The A8 is the first production model showing the future design language and, as a result, it fundamentally reflects the progressive face of the brand.
Speaking of progressive: how would you define that term?
Marc Lichte: At Audi the design always expresses Vorsprung durch Technik. To me, a progressive solution is one in which I can harmonize form and function within the design. A perfect solution that impresses with its simplicity.
With this in mind, what makes the design of the fourth A8 generation stand out?
Marc Lichte: It embodies our vision of luxury and prestige. The distinctive body line with the large, upright Singleframe grille and the balanced emphasis of all four wheels projects the confidence of the luxury sedan outward. On the interior, we elevate the reduction of characteristic aesthetic design features. There will be hardly any buttons or switches here in the new A8. Instead, we have developed an operating concept in which the new touch display is completely integrated into the black panel surface of the interior. This frees up space and is actually revolutionary from the user’s perspective
How will the customer experience this free space?
Marc Lichte: The new A8 appeals to all of the senses, starting with the shapes and lines of the interior design but also extending to the superbly handcrafted quality of the authentic materials. Added to this is an expansive audio experience as well as the subtle impression left behind by the aroma. All of this forms a harmonious composition in the new A8.
Which detail excites you the most?
Marc Lichte: The light animation of the A8 is truly unique. When the customer approaches the rear, for example, the light graphics develop across the entire width of the car. This is a first in the industry and an expression of the progressive self-perception. Or to put it another way, it’s a moment with which the new A8 will continually be attracting attention.
The new Audi A8 proves itself a versatile performer on the road. Thanks to its active suspension, it provides comfort-oriented customers with a chauffeur-driven sedan offering a stylishly smooth ride. The enthusiastic owner-driver can relish the characteristics of a sports car. This flexibility is made possible thanks to the new active suspension based on the 48-volt electrical system, which is used for the first time as the main electrical system. The new Audi A8 makes its world debut at the Audi Summit in Barcelona on July 11.
The all-new active suspension on the Audi A8 is a fully active, electromechanical suspension system, which drives each wheel individually and adapts to the prevailing road conditions. Each wheel has an electric motor which is powered by the 48-volt main electrical system. Additional components include gears, a rotary tube together with internal titanium torsion bar and a lever which exerts up to 1,100 Nm (811.3 lb-ft) on the suspension via a coupling rod.
Thanks to the front camera, the luxury sedan detects bumps in the road early on and predictively adjusts the active suspension. Even before the car reaches a bump in the road, the preview function developed by Audi transmits the right amount of travel to the actuators and actively controls the suspension. In this way the suspension reacts precisely at the right time, virtually completely eliminating any vibrations and jolts. This complex process takes just a few milliseconds, with the camera generating information about the road surface condition 18 times a second. The electronic chassis platform (ECP) processes the road surface information and precisely controls all suspension components almost in real time. In conjunction with the air suspension fine-tuned for the A8, the innovative suspension concept delivers an entirely new driving experience in this way. Irrespective of the high level of comfort, the new luxury sedan sits close to the road even with a dynamic driving style.
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