“Autovrtable” among the first met with the future of the Audi A8, or rather – with its innovative “skeleton.” What surprises the “naked” flagship of the brand?
Few people know that the first aluminum body on the technology of facilitating the Audi Space Frame was developed already 25 (!) Years ago. It was introduced into a prototype based on the Audi V8, but then the product was too raw. Therefore, for the first time on a production car, the winged metal body appeared only six years later – on the first generation of the A8 sedan (D2), which then produced a kind of revolution in the automotive industry.
ASF itself is an aluminum space frame with elements made of steel and other materials. Such a body is not only about twice as light as a steel analog, but also safer on an order of magnitude.
So, with each new generation of the flagship sedan, the brand-new aluminum “skeleton” of ASF is just being peppered with new advantages and innovations that are then being introduced into more affordable models of the brand. And the new body was no exception. We chose the top five most interesting facts about the “skeleton” of the future A8.
1. “Chopped” aluminum
The embodiment of design ideas – that’s what, in the opinion of the Audi engineers, is the highlight of the new A8 body. After all, the “skeleton” is not only interconnected individual parts, but also large integral aluminum elements. In particular, the rear side panel is made of winged metal. The fresh “eight” has a lot of sharp corners, sharp chopped faces and small smooth curves. At first glance, nothing unusual, but in fact on panels made of aluminum this before no one knew how to do.
2. Materials from sports cars
As before, Audi continues to match the beautiful concept of “the right material in the right place and the right amount.” Only now the number of materials used has increased to four: aluminum (58% of the total body), steel, carbon and magnesium. At the same time, because of the toughening of the safety requirements for steel parts, more steel has been made: from the classic metal, the load bearing elements of the front end, the thresholds, the front and middle racks, and also the roof part are made. Coupled with the use of new aluminum alloys, this gave a powerful result – the rigidity of the new “skeleton” for torsion increased by a respectable 24%. You will say – and what is it to me? Yes, it will also be much safer in case of an accident!
It’s hard to believe, but the only carbon-fiber element in the body and it gives it rigidity. A thin carbon fiber panel behind the rear sofa, thanks to the X-shaped weaving of fibers, is able to withstand multidirectional loads and, as it is easy to guess, practically does not affect the body weight. Of course, apply carbon in the construction of the “skeleton” and competitors from BMW. But in the “seven” these elements are used only as amplifiers.
For the first time there was a place in the new structure of the body and for magnesium alloy, which is still rarely found in large-series cars. The new A8 of this material has a strut under the hood, which, with the same rigidity indicators, is a quarter lighter than the previous aluminum one. If you pick up an old and a new spacer, you really feel a significant difference in weight. “In addition, it is now still attached to the body with aluminum bolts, and not steel, which also gives a gain in weight,” commented Mark Hummel, an expert at Audi on materials.
So, for the sake of what all this leapfrog with materials? Magnesium, carbon … Just a minute!
3. “Skeleton” – “rolling”
On the way to the factory in Neckarsulm, my colleagues and I joked: they say, “specialists” from Audi will again tell that the weight of the new body has decreased by several kilograms and grams … But it was not there. The frame of the fourth generation of the Eight appeared to be 51 kg heavier (now weighing 282 kg) of the body of the third generation, again because of the above-mentioned increased security requirements. It turned out that the “skeleton” of the new Audi A8 did not “get fat”, but simply “pumped up”: for every kilogram of mass, now there is more rigidity. But at the same time it still remained the easiest in the segment: competitors simply do not yet have a body lighter than 300 kg. It turns out what kind of thing – the representative sedan was still light, but it became much safer.
4. More rings!
Well, and where without comfort in the representative class. First, to reduce vibration and improve the acoustic comfort in the cabin, almost all the body inside the special torsion rings are laid (a similar solution is used in the crossover Q7). These rods are made of durable and lightweight material resembling plastic that can work as springs. Twisting and unwinding, they absorb the inertia of heavy masses, further improve the static and dynamic rigidity of the “skeleton”, and also suppress extraneous sounds and shivers in the body.
Secondly, as the engineers say, the interior of the G8 has become much more spacious. Especially on the back row: in addition to increasing the stock for the feet, I note the expansion of the rear doorways due to the new technology of rolling metal around the perimeter. But it’s only in theory. In practice, we will check in the summer or early autumn during a full test drive.
5. Five hundred robots per car
Issue the fourth generation A8 will be on the new production facilities of the plant “Audi” in the German city of Neckarsulm. The height of the assembly shop with a 17-storey building, and their total area is equal to twenty football fields. This indicates that the company from Ingolstadt is confident in the success of the new model.
As for the production itself, the body of the new “eight” will manufacture and weld 500 robots, and selective quality control will be carried out by the plant’s employees with the help of special ultrasonic devices. This control technology allows you to check the attachment points (gluing or welding) of composite metal parts without opening.