Audi's new A6, an engineering mule of which is revealed in our new spy photos, will sport a new multi-material spaceframe to narrow the gap with its arch rivals, the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class – both of which are being imminently renewed. The new Audi A6 arrives in 2010.
According to a chief strategist, the current TT is the role model for the advanced body architecture of all future Audis. Dubbed ASF II – shorthand for aluminium and steel spaceframe – the innovative material mix weighs about half what an all-steel constructed chassis would. It's the Weight Watchers solution of the automotive world.
So how does the new aluminium Audi A6 shape up?
It doesn't take Colin Chapman to work out that lightweight execs are A Good Thing. Our engineering moles point out that an alloy A6 will achieve all the usual lightweight gains – performance, emissions, economy – but will also throw up a few surprise wins. It's 50 percent more rigid than before.
The new passenger cell is made of aluminium, but there are steel and foam reinforcements where necessary. In addition, Audi is developing lightweight front and rear subframes which are integral parts of the compact but strong modular nose and tail structures.
And I guess the A6's construction will trickle down Audi's (rapidly expanding) range?
Innovative bonding techniques and more efficient production methods will be applied to ensure top quality and competitive cost patterns. The second-generation ASF system will be introduced top-down, starting with the next Audi A6 and A8 along with the new A7.
To implement the ASF system on the next-gen A3 will be a financial challenge, but Audi is reportedly willing to accept it, and this should also apply to the A1 and the follow-up to the A4/A5. A special ASF version is being prepared for SUVs and crossovers, too, which must shed weight even more urgently.
The next Q7 will for instance be 300 kilos/660lb lighter than the model it replaces.