Audi's largest sedan can do a neat trick, thanks to a suite of sensors that surround the A8, its 48-volt electrical system and lightning-quick electromechanical actuators.
When the luxury sedan senses that a side impact is imminent, it quickly raises that side of the vehicle 3.1 inches, allowing the heavily reinforced sill to absorb a larger portion of the collision energy instead of the doors.
The tip happens so fast it's barely discernible to the occupants until after the cycle is completed. At the threat of a side-impact collision — as determined by the side-mounted sensors — the A8 braces itself. The sedan arms its airbags and, as the threat increases, closes windows and the sunroof and, at the last second, uses the air suspension to raise the vehicle.
The active adaptive suspension technology also allows the A8 to glide over most potholes. With its suite of on-board sensors, the sedan can see the tire heading for a pothole and suspend the wheels just enough to prevent them from falling too far into the hole, easing the strike on the trailing edge of the hole and smoothing the ride. The system also allows the A8 to absorb speed bumps with almost no discernible impact in the cabin and keeps the big sedan from diving during hard stops and squatting during hard acceleration.