Audi has seen the future, and the future is exciting; at least in Ingolstadt. Engineers at Audi have cooked up the automotive equivalent of the Focusrite Liquid Mix. An A8L has been pressed into service as the basis for Audi's emulator, having been modified with extra hydraulics, an active steering system and hardware to steer the rear wheels, as well. Dubbed HORST, for Handling Online Research Simulation Tool, the car was initially developed to ape the dynamic responses of an E-Class Benz. More cars have been added as "presets," and engineers can switch from a range of vehicles, including a VW GTI, a Lotus Elise, even a Hyundai Getz, all at the behest of a laptop.
[Source: Auto Express]
While the thought of a vehicle with software-tweakable ride, handing, and braking settings gets our salivary glands going, this particular Audi is a one-off development mule, and the cost is amplified by a factor of 10. Of course, the Audi is a mimic, and not an exact copy of the cars it's dynamically benchmarking. It's the same thing as those emulator rigs for guitarists - you get a flavor reminiscent of your target, but it's not the exact same thing. A fully-adjustable car, such as the HORST, may not ever see the light of day. All that hardware definitely adds weight, and that's not the most effective way to get an already hefty vehicle to act like the flyweight Elise. The tried and true method of vehicle customization through springs, shocks, and other hardware tweaks is still the way to go for the forseeable future. While not it's not cheap to go at your vehicle with wrenches, the cost of Audi's setup is far, far out of the realm of sanity. Besides, if you had that kind of cash to drop on a car, you can get a Ferrari tailored to your liking.