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Wednesday 6th October 2010


IN DETAIL: AUDI QUATTRO CONCEPT

We have a poke around Audi's Paris show star and chat to the man who styled it


There are probably two things you'll want to know about the new Audi Quattro Concept: is Audi going to build it, and how much is it going to cost? Unfortunately, these are both questions that Audi can't really answer, even off the record.

What the car's British designer, Steve Lewis, could tell me when I managed to grab a chat with him at the VW Group's pre-Paris show bash was that Audi does at least want to make it - this is not a pure pie-in-the-sky dream.

It does, of course, depend on how good the public's reaction to the car is (and the P.H. O'Meter is naturally going to play a crucial role in that), but it seems that a 500-car production run is at least a possibility. As for how much it's going to cost? Well, there's absolutely no line on that, but you'd surely be looking at 911 GT3 territory.

Riggers grabs a souvenir of the moment...
Riggers grabs a souvenir of the moment...
If Audi does build it, Steve reckons that the Quattro Concept could be the first Audi built by Italdesign since Giorgetto Giugiaro's styling house was brought within the VW fold earlier this year. The concept has also been physically created at Italdesign's Turin HQ - the first concept car it's done for the VW group since the takeover - so it would make sense that the Italian firm, whose expertise lies in limited-production specialist models as well as in design, should take responsibility for the car.

The genes of the A5 and RS5 on which the Quattro Concept is based are evident in the curvy haunches, although the car's wheelbase has been shortened by 150mm - a move that adds to the car's agility and also reduces weight. Like the original 1984 Sport Quattro - which was introduced so that the rally car could compete with ever-more extreme Group B rally competitors - the looks of the Quattro Concept are therefore a result of function first and form second, although the rear overhang has been chopped by a significant 200mm to keep the shape balanced, something that was most certainly not done on the 1984 car.


There are plenty of other visual ties to the Sport Quattro, the most obvious of which is the chunky, angled C-pillar. The prominently flared wheelarches, air vent on the right-hand side of the bonnet and blacked-out boot are also visual nods to the car's spiritual ancestor. Inside, there's even an oh-so-Quattro fully digital instrument cluster.

Even if Audi doesn't make this car, the Quattro Concept is a statement of serious intent. Its 1300kg kerb weight (almost identical to the original Sport Quattro's) is getting on for supermini hot hatch lightness and is a clear signal from Audi that it is ready to bring its lightweight technology to bear on mainstream cars. "We've seen what the supercar makers can do with lightweight materials," an Audi insider told me at Paris. "Now it's time to see what the big boys can do."

Steve Lewis, 2010. Biro on notebook
Steve Lewis, 2010. Biro on notebook
The aluminium spaceframe also gets help from carbon fibre - there's some at the front of the car and the bonnet, rear hatch and electrically raising rear spoiler are made from it - and the result is that the 402bhp, 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot from the TT RS, slung longitudinally, can launch the car to 62mph in around 3.5secs.

The drivetrain, meanwhile is as performance-focused as the rest of the car. Out goes the woolly Haldex four-wheel drive system, to be replaced by the crown-gear differential affair from the RS5. Heck, the concept car even has a proper, honest-to-goodness conventional manual gearbox (with three pedals and everything).

The Sport Quattro has the potential to be the most focused Audi for more than a quarter of a century. Let's hope Ingolstadt has the balls to make it happen.

 







   
Author: Riggers