The days when the driver will become virtually redundant as more and more sophisticated aids take over responsibility for the control of the car has taken a step nearer with the announcement of Audi’s new A7 Sportsback.
Forget the 0 – 62 mph time of 8.1 seconds and the top speed of 145 mph. Forget the seven-speed twin-clutch sports transmission. Instead, check out the bells and whistles.
For a start, and for the first time in a production Audi, an optional extra heads-up display will project key information, including economy and speed data and navigation routing onto the windscreen so that it appears to float at a distance of around 2.5 metres ahead of the driver.
Another option is the park-assist system. Using ultrasonic sensors that detect parallel and horizontal parking spaces, the system can completely take over the steering function when parking at the touch of a button, leaving the driver responsible only for throttle and brake application as required. Think about it: the car is doing the steering, you just accelerate and brake while it performs the perfect parking manoeuvre.
The list of optional driver aids also includes a night vision assistant employing a thermal imaging camera to highlight persons in front of the car, the Audi side-assist blind-spot warning system, the Audi lane-assist lane departure detection system and the new Audi pre-sense system first seen in the new A8. In its standard form pre-sense analyses the information from sensors and intervenes to activate the hazard warning lights, close the side windows and sunroof and tension the seatbelts when maximum brake application or skidding is detected. It’s like a sort of automatic ‘panic’ button.
As an option, a GPRS module will be available which will be fed with news and weather information from the Web by internet service provider Google, and will make it possible for drivers to plot detailed routes on a home computer and download them to the navigation system when they start a trip. An optional module will also enable Google Earth images to be beamed to the monitor in 3D for navigation purposes, and through its wireless WLAN link will make full internet connection available to passengers using their own computers.
Economy can also be optimized when the standard satellite navigation system is upgraded, the detailed route data from which can be used to factor corners into the automatic transmission’s shift strategy and avoid unnecessary, fuel-sapping gear changes. The optional adaptive cruise control and adaptive light-swivelling cornering light systems are also influenced by feedback from the navigation unit. In other words the lights know when to turn as you go around a corner.
And all this, just for £42,925 on the road. I think I’ll have two.Author's Google+ Page