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2018 Audi A8's suspension can 'see' the road ahead, adjust accordingly

It'll be unveiled in full on July 11.

Most suspension systems feel like magic, even after understanding how they work. For the latest iteration of its flagship, the 2018 A8, Audi threw all sorts of black-magic trickery into the mix.

Audi announced Monday that the 2018 A8 luxury sedan will pack an active air suspension system that's linked to cameras outside the vehicle. These cameras map the road ahead, detecting bumps and potholes and adjusting the suspension's damping as the car crosses them. The process takes just a few milliseconds.

Audi's still throwing out teasers, so here's another one for you.


The system is actuated using electric motors that are located at each wheel. The motors take advantage of the extra juice supplied by the A8's 48-volt mild hybrid system, which is included on every new A8. It can also mitigate pitches from acceleration and braking, as well as reducing body roll in curves.

This is similar to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class' Magic Body Control, which also uses a camera to map roads and soften the damping just for bumps. However, Mercedes' system relies on hydraulics to actuate the suspension, whereas Audi uses electric motors.

The trickery doesn't end there. The suspension also connects to Audi's suite of active and passive safety systems. If the system detects an imminent side impact at a speed greater than 15 mph, it can raise one side of the car to ensure the oncoming vehicle contacts the strongest points of the car's chassis. Audi estimates that the consequent load on the occupants can be reduced by up to 50 percent, compared to a body that doesn't raise before impact.

The 2018 Audi A8 will be unveiled on July 11 via live webcast, and it should hit dealerships in the latter half of 2017.