The Audi Sport Quattro Concept will be shown at Frankfurt as a spiritual successor to the 1980s rallying legend. This time, the road-going version can muster 0-62mph in a stonking 3.7sec and top 189mph thanks to its 690bhp drivetrain.
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Haven’t we seen an Audi Quattro Concept before?
Yes – but this is a different take on the 2010 Quattro concept, and may make it into showrooms. It’s three decades since the ultimate version of the UR Quattro – the car that shook up the world rally scene by effectively using all-wheel drive to decimate the competition – was built, the 1984 Sport S1 being the ultimate version of the snow-melting, fire breathing coupe. Audi’s been trading off the Quattro’s brilliance ever since. This car – which takes the box-topped guards and angular ’80s kitsch styling cues into the 21st century – is here to remind us all of just how dominant the four-ringed rally cars were.
What’s under the bonnet?
While its proportions are similar to the UR Quattros – especially the shorter tail and rear pillar, the under-bonnet story is far removed.
There’s a 552bhp 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (as found in the RS6 and RS7) that’s been teamed with the concept’s only link to the forest – a plug-in hybrid system, made up of a 147bhp electric motor and lithium-ion batteries. Overall output is 690bhp while enabling an official figure of 113mpg. Does anyone really care that it can travel 31 miles on electric power alone?
There’s also a stump-pulling 590lb ft of torque fed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox to maximize the weight saving benefits of the aluminium doors and front quarter panels, as well as the carbonfibre bonnet, roof and rear hatch. Sadly, there’s no aluminium spaceframe like the R8, the Quattro weighing in at 1845kg – not exactly light…
There’s a futuristic, svelte cockpit with angular lines and typical Audi trimmings, such as racing buckets, MMI rotary wheel and flat-bottom steering wheel, but the Quattro shows off a massive digital instrument cluster with a head-up display. It’s a break from the sophisticated yet smooth dash designs of the current Audi line-up, and is housed in a ‘carbon interior shell’ to save weight.
Is it a true successor?
The UR Quattro was all about its all-wheel drive system and turbocharged five-pot that echoed in rally fans ears in the ’80s. This car is built on the same platform as the RS7 and is 4602mm long, 1964mm wide but sits a mere 1386mm high, making it larger than the original, if lower and sleeker. And while it’s a powerhouse, there wasn’t a V8 in sight when rally legends Hannu Mikkola, Walter Rohrl and Michelle Mouton were carving up the competition in the Group B: the S1 used an all-aluminium 2.1-litre five-cylinder. So while it’s not built to conquer all creatures great and small in competition, the Quattro Concept may well live up to the original’s cache with its performance, but it’s unlikely to be revered in 30 years in the same way.
Will I be able to buy one?
Audi is playing coy with this one, saying it may offer a small production run of the Quattro in late 2016 – but at a halo car price of £150,000 if it does. Stay tuned…