Audi India had invited us to witness the ‘Vorsprung’ of the brand’s new range of products and innovations at the Audi Brand Singapore Experience 2018. We were told that whether it be autonomous driving or electric mobility, the carmaker’s futuristic technologies will be showcased at this exclusive. And we were surely in for a surprise! In an exclusive preview, we spent an evening ogling at cars before the five-day event was opened to the general public at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. It focused on offering a glimpse into the German brand's innovations in autonomous driving and electrification. Meanwhile, it also featured some of the automaker's best concept cars.
Autonomous electric cars are the future
Two of the concept cars exhibited at the show were the fully autonomous Audi Aicon and the Audi Elaine. The former is a perfect glimpse into the future. It has suicide doors that open into a futuristic cabin with no steering wheel or even pedals. Yes, you read that right! What one has to do is just lie back, relax in a lounge kind-of cabin while the car will drive itself. And while the popular perception is that such concepts do take a while or never see the light of the day, Audi promises it will be here sooner than one hopes. This futuristic and fully-electric self-driving car is expected to be there on the roads by 2021, delivering 700-800km of range on full charge. Now, doesn’t that sound impressive?
The Elaine, on the other hand, was out hiding away from the people initially. Later it was driven into the exhibition area, thus hinting at how close it is to production. This one's got a steering wheel and pedals, but it still does feature a lot of autonomous tech powered by AI – Audi intelligent technologies. For example, this level four self-driving car can drop you at a mall or drive itself to a car wash or an electronic charging post and park itself. Now, that's quite a fascinating preview of a forthcoming all-electric Audi production model.
Up and close with
Out there in the open were Audi’s range of full-sized models also on display. The new Audi Q2, A3 models, A6, A7 Sportback, TT, S5, A8L, Q7 and even the Q8. More than 60 such models were available to get a first-hand experience. These were spread wide across the entire area of the Sands Expo. But despite their numbers, they didn’t garner as much attention as the concepts did.
To add to the multi-million dollar brand showcase
The slew of vehicles on display had an estimated total worth pegged to be more than €8 million (S$12.7 million). Understandably, everyone was even more curious to know what more was in store. This is when we entered a special section of the display area which had the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo and the Formula E.
The e-tron Vision GT is now a fully functional race car which started life from a virtual track in the “Gran Turismo” PlayStation game. It now impresses visitors during demo runs at Formula E races. This also takes us to the Formula E, which is the latest race car for the all-electric Formula E Series. This single-seater race car is all charged up to make all-electric racing look even cooler.
The big surprise
I was keeping an eye out for the much-anticipated India-bound vehicle, but could not locate it anywhere across the wide-spread portfolio. However, to my surprise, we were given an exclusive preview of the Audi e-tron at the end of the show. This is the brand’s first fully-electric SUV that had premiered in San Francisco last month and will go on sale in India next year. The speciality of this e-tron SUV is that it will provide a range of 400km and can be charged to 80 per cent of its capacity in just 30minutes with a DC fast charger. Can’t wait for it to be seen on Indian roads when it will be slotted between the Q5 and the Q7 in the Indian portfolio.
Visitors’ engagement activities
There were many other highlights of the show which kept all visitors engaged. One could get a virtual experience by driving a race car on a simulator or visitors with a valid driving license could also get a test drive of various Audi models. Then, to keep the children engaged too, there was a small dedicated driving track for these kids. Furthermore, an Audi shop was set up if anyone wanted to buy any Audi merchandise and accessories. There was a configurator area as well along with the option of playing an Audi-on-demand game to win various prizes.
This was a one-of-a-kind event in Singapore that enthralled visitors especially with the concept cars. These vehicles beautifully illustrated Audi’s vision of the future in terms of urban mobility, autonomous driving and electrification. Audi Singapore had exactly what it takes to put together an excellent show!
Pictures by Ninad Ambre