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Audi Cross Cabriolet quattro

Published: 14 November 2007

Ah, the new Audi A3 convertible…

Not quite. It certainly looks like a drop-top A3, and although that car’s on the way, this is the Audi Cross Cabriolet quattro. Now trying say that really fast.

This two-door, four-seat cabriolet previews Audi’s Q5, and perhaps more significantly, will make its debut at the LA Auto Show today using diesel power.

But don’t worry, Audi hasn’t forgotten that all concept cars must feature some irrelevance, so it's given this cabrio whopping 380mm ceramic front discs.

So is it just a soft-top version of that Cross Coupe quattro?

Nope. The Cross Coupe quattro – shown in Shanghai earlier this year – previews the even smaller Q3 which will face off against the BMW X1 when it goes on sale in 2010.

Today's LA star is Audi’s tease for their medium-sized 4x4, the Q5, and it’s definitely a tease. While Audi’s three concept cars this year (Q7 V12 TDI, Cross Coupe quattro, and Metroproject quattro) will make in production almost unchanged, this Cross Cabriolet is another matter.

At least when BMW previewed its X3 with the xActivity concept (inset) it had the decency to leave the B-, C-, and D-pillars in place, and just cut a few holes in the roof instead.

When will I see the real Q5?

Judging by our spy video the car is nearly production ready, so expect it at Geneva 2008 or the Beijing Motor show shortly afterwards.

For those of you that care about the concept’s folding roof though, Audi says the fabric hood will disappear in a ‘spectacularly brief 17 seconds’. Refinement might not be all that great though, as the Cross Cabriolet comes with an intercom system and four individual microphones so the passengers can easily communicate, or be proper back seat drivers.

So no roof, and it’s also far too low to be a 4x4…

Yes, but don't forget this is one of those crossover vehicles. The closest it’ll get to going off-road will be when it mounts the pavement on the school run, probably scraping those 21-inch wheels along the way. Anyway, these pictures show the concept with its lowered suspension: at the touch of the button it can raise itself up 40mm in four seconds.  

Size-wise it’s actually bigger than the BMW X3, though these photos disguise the girth. It’s 4.62m long, 1.91m wide, 1.63m high, while the wheelbase is 2.81m in length: the X3 is 4569mm, 1853mm, 1674mm, and 2795mm respectively. 

What’s this diesel doing in LA then?

It’s Audi previewing the company’s AdBlue technology which CAR was shown earlier this year. The 3.0 TDI is known to us, with 236bhp and 369bhp, plus its 38.7mpg, but the clever bit is the urine in the exhaust.

Developed in conjunction with Mercedes (who call it Bluetec), the system pulses urea into the exhaust gases, drastically cutting NOx emissions by around 90 percent. That means Audi will be selling diesels fitted with this technology throughout the US from 2008.

The Cross Cabriolet also features an eight-speed automatic, which will appear in production soon.

So what about the interior?

Rather nice, as most Audis' are. There’s the next generation MMI, with an LCD screen that slides out of the dash, A8-style. In front of the MMI controls is a touch pad, similar to that found on a laptop. It can be used to move map sections, or taught to understand specific patterns as your finger traces over the pad, and the car corresponds with a specific function.

The dash sweeps back through the cabin to make this cabrio a four-seater, and legroom is generous as this is really a large 4x4.

Each passenger has a heatable and coolable cupholder, while all the seats have an Airscarf function to keep passenger necks warm with the roof down, a system similar to the one found in the Mercedes SLK and next-gen SL.

The platform is from the A4 and A5, and while the Quattro system puts 60 percent of drive to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions, if needed this can be upped to 85 percent; conversely up to 65 percent of twist action can go to the front wheels in slippery conditions.

Anything else?

Google Earth makes an appearance, so you can get quicker, easier mapping, see where you’re going beforehand, and thanks to internet connectivity, also be warned about traffic, the weather, and even air quality.

A 505-watt B&O stereo helps keep passengers entertained, and that web access also allows access to any radio station found on the web, while at the touch of a button you can rate the music and thus the car learns to tailor what you listen to. Flights of fancy for now - but this tech is being readied for production.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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