Drivers bored with the way their motor handles will one day be able to change it - and all at the touch of a button. Scientists at the German firm have created the ultimate real-life car simulator, and while the gadgetry behind it is some way off production, it gives a taste of what motoring might be like in the future. Taking a standard A8 limo, engineers have fitted hydraulic actuators, active steering and rear-steering capability to create the Handling Online Research and Simulation Tool (HORST).
An engineer with a laptop can alter every element of thesuspension, steering and brake set-up - pointing the way to the fully adjustable, personalised car. Auto Express was the first magazine in Britain to drive the ultra-secret motor, which is worth at least 10 times the £50,000 price of the standard A8 on which it's based.
The Audi was first set up to imitate the dynamics of a Mercedes E-Class, and it clearly wallowed through corners. At the click of a button, the Merc's image on the dash changed to a VW Golf GTI. Instantly, the A8 was transformed. The steering became weightier and more direct, roll was reduced and the steering response was sharper. The engineer even allowed us to tune our ideal motor by juggling settings on the laptop, such as steering weight, levels of roll, ride quality and rear-end response to create a sports car that was uncompromising but delivered good feedback.
The system is currently a development tool - with cars as diverse as the Hyundai Getz and Lotus Elise already programmed.