INGOLSTADT, Germany, Sep 30, 2010 – The 1980 Geneva Motor Show saw the debut of an automobile, whose name went on to become more than just a symbol for a long line of success by the manufacturer. The quattro from Audi is also the gold standard for the combination of winning motor sport qualities with the utmost in everyday practicality.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the debut of the quattro, Audi is presenting a show car at the 2010 Paris Motor Show that moves a futuristic interpretation of this concept into the fast lane: the Audi quattro concept, a thoroughbred driving machine with 300 kW (408 hp), five-cylinder turbocharged engine, a lightweight body and – of course – the latest generation of quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
The very first glimpse of the new Col de Turini White show car awakens memories of another legendary ancestor: the 1984 Sport quattro, a 306 hp evolutionary stage of the Audi quattro Coupé with a shortened wheelbase. In fact, the Audi quattro concept also represents the systematic further development of a production coupé using high-performance technology. The foundation is provided by the powerful Audi RS 5, one of the brand’s sportiest production vehicles ever.
The Audi development engineers shortened the wheelbase by 150 millimeters (5.91 in) and lowered the roofline by around 40 millimeters (1.57 in) compared to the four-seat coupé on which it is based. Like its predecessor from 1984, the 2010 show car is now also a two-seater. The heavily modified body is made primarily of aluminum, with the hood, the rear hatch and other components made of carbon.
The low weight of the superstructure leads to significant secondary effects in other components of the vehicle, such as the transmission, the chassis and the brake system. As a result, the Audi quattro concept weighs just 1,300 kilograms (2,866.01 lb), almost exactly the same as the Sport quattro from 1984. This once again moves Audi, the pioneer of lightweight construction, to the head of the pack.
The know-how and technologies of the quattro concept body will characterize Audi’s entire production model portfolio in the future.
In another move that benefits the vehicle’s weight, the eight-cylinder engine from the production model has been replaced under the hood by a turbocharged, inline five-cylinder engine that can trace its roots back to another Audi sports car – the TT RS. In the Audi quattro concept, the longitudinal FSI turbo produces 300 kW (408 hp) and accelerates the car from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in only 3.9 seconds. Torque is distributed as needed via a six-speed manual transmission.
The Audi quattro concept uses the latest evolutionary stage of the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system to deliver its power to the road. The key innovation, the crown-gear center differential, is compact, lightweight, and can vary the distribution of power between the front and rear axles over a broad range, enabling the quattro drive system to react within milliseconds to coax the maximum of fun and safety out of every last bit of torque.
Brawny, compact, powerful: The appearance of the Audi quattro concept makes no secret of its potential. Although the genes of the elegant Audi A5 and RS 5 Coupés are impossible to overlook, the appearance of the show car is far more aggressive and extroverted. Even the obvious differences between the base model and the evolution are more dramatic than between the Ur-quattro and the Sport quattro in 1984.
The concept car’s wheelbase is 150 millimeters (5.91 in) shorter than that of the RS 5. The primary reason for this, of course, was to enhance agility and reduce weight – form follows function.
In contrast to Sport quattro, the Audi designers also shortened the rear overhang by a total of 200 millimeters (7.87 in) to maintain the harmony of the basic proportions. Roof height was reduced by 40 millimeters (1.57 in) for this same reason.
With its exterior dimensions (length x width x height) of 4.28 m (14.04 ft) x 1.86 m (6.10 ft) x 1.33 m (4.36 ft) and wheelbase of 2.60 m (8.53 ft), the Audi quattro concept fits neatly into the sports car segment.
The low roof also reduces the height of the greenhouse and thus lowers the vehicle’s visual center of gravity. The muscular C-pillar is clearly an homage to the design of the Ur-quattro. As with that model, the trademark four rings can be found at the transition to the side of the vehicle, but in this case they are stamped into the sheet metal. Together with the large center-locking, 20-inch wheels in a 7-twin-spoke design, the lines make for extremely dynamic and powerful proportions when viewed from the side.
The wheel wells in the arched fenders are prominently flared – another quote from the design language of the Sport quattro. The same applies to the distinctive air outlet on the right side of the hood, which allows the five-cylinder engine to breathe more freely.
A significant feature of the front end is the stark single-frame grille. The elimination of the chrome frame lends it a functional and technical character. Large, upright air intakes at the corners of the bumper underscore the performance of the power plant.
The top of the grille merges into the flat strips of the headlight modules with their clear glass covers. All light units use ultra-efficient LED technology. The LED elements change their appearance between a horizontal and a vertical arrangement and thus change the character of the front end of the vehicle depending on the lighting function activated.
The strongly molded front skirt includes integrated carbon elements. This lightweight, yet extremely strong material is also used for the rear hatch and the hood, which are unpainted on the inside in order to use the visual quality of the material as a design element. The large spoiler integrated into the rear hatch is also made of carbon and extends automatically as needed and can be adjusted for maximum downforce.
The interior of the coupé is reduced and clean. The dashboard is very slender and seems to float over the separate center console. Shortening the wheelbase meant losing the rear seat of the RS 5 on which it is based. In its place is a shelf for helmets or luggage. Awaiting the two occupants are filigree bucket seats, during whose development the issue of lightweight design played a central role. They weigh only 18 kilograms (39.68 lb) each – a weight advantage of roughly 40 percent versus a conventional production seat. The seats are equipped with either three- or four-point belts.
Awaiting the driver is a clearly organized workplace that exudes quality from its carbon surfaces and upholstered leather inlays. The color scheme with satin black for the carbon elements and rally beige for all of the leather areas offsets the various functional units from one another and emphasizes the handcrafted character of the interior.
The classic driver orientation (“wrap-around architecture” in the designer jargon) of the cockpit is typical Audi. The control unit for the MMI touch system and the shift lever for the six-speed transmission are located on the extremely slender center console.
The instrument cluster is completely digital. The large, three-dimensional visor-like display contains all of the information required by the driver and thus also replaces the classic MMI central display. The clear graphics, the stark black-and-white contrast and the subtle red highlights are precise and modernly interpreted – an indicator instrument for a driving machine, with no superfluous touches. The driver has the choice between an everyday mode, which combines the indication of the speed and engine revs with the content of the MMI, and racing mode, whose graphics revisit and refine the digital instrument of the Ur-quattro from the 1980s.
The driver will find another reminder of the Ur-quattro’s cockpit on the sides of the cockpit cowl: On both the right and left sides are four flat buttons. The ones on the left control the stopwatch function in racing mode, and the ones on the right are for the menu of the MMI system.
Entertainment is offered not just under the hood, but also in the form of digital media. A customizable web radio can use the driver’s cellular phone to connect to digital radio stations all over the world, if desired, for a sheer endless array of genres and musical styles. Playback of the driver’s own files and playlists is also supported.
Communication also benefits from access to corresponding online services. Whether the online address book or the driver’s own cellular phone, the MMI combines all data into a single view. Contacts are always available wherever the user happens to be.
To pay proper respect to the Ur-quattro as the winner of numerous rally world championships, a so-called “prayer book” – the classic rally copilot’s track description – can be displayed in racing mode. It provides precise information about the route ahead for an authentic rally feeling – even if a copilot is not available.
A true sports car is always a light car, and the Audi quattro concept shines in this discipline as well.
The key factors are the choice of material and the design. Rather than mostly steel as in the Audi RS 5, the body comprises lightweight aluminum components assembled using Audi Space Frame ASF technology. Extruded sections, die-castings and aluminum sheets form an impact-resistant structure of exceptional strength. The hood and the rear hatch with its integrated, moveable spoiler, plus the bumpers and numerous aerodynamic components are made of even lighter and high-strength carbon.
The body-in-white of the coupé weighs just 159 kilograms (350.53 lb); it would be nearly 50 percent heavier if made entirely of steel.
The low weight of the superstructure leads to