When the first-generation Audi A8 arrived in 1994, following its preview as the Audi Space Frame concept the year before, it was heralded as the first large car to use aluminium, making it substantially lighter than its rivals while preserving its structural rigidity.
Twenty-three years later and it seems that Audi has hit a proverbial lightweighting wall. The bodyshell of the new A8 weighs 51kg more than the outgoing car’s, at 282kg compared with 231kg.
Although Audi says aluminium makes up 58% of the structure, alongside steel, magnesium and carbonfibre, the demands of the modern car market — sound deadening, slightly larger dimensions, stringent crash regulations and, of course, all that impressive technology — have made it impossible to achieve what the company did all those years ago.
Audi won’t be alone, though. This is a trend that will permeate to all car makers as they incorporate a whole new world of stuff while trying to maintain driving dynamics.