The theme for Audi’s presence at the Frankfurt Motor Show is ’30 years of quattro’, and playing centre stage will be an updated version of the plug-in hybrid Audi Sport Quattro Concept, first seen at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
Powered by the same twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine as that used in the RS 6, the muscle bound short-wheelbase coupé delivers 552bhp and 516 lb-ft (700 Nm) of torque from its combustion engine, supplemented by a disc-shaped electric motor producing 110 kW and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). Drivers can switch between three modes – EV, Hybrid and Sport, with the Sport Quattro being able to cover up to 31 miles on electric power alone.
Combined, their output is a staggering 690bhp and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque, enough to propel the Sport Quattro from 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 189mph, all of this with a claimed 59g/km of CO2 emissions and 113mpg average consumption.
Power is transmitted through a modified eight-speed tiptronic transmission to the quattro powertrain, which features a sport differential on the rear axle and the petrol engine features Audi’s cylinder on demand system (turning off half the engine when cruising) and a start-stop function.
It’s a stunning tribute to the 1980’s “Ur-quattro” while at the same time showcasing Audi’s latest technology including the MatrixBeam LED headlights shown on the newly revised A8.
The DNA of the Ur-quattro is immediately evident in the Sport Quattro’s powerful road stance sitting on a wheelbase 33mm longer than an RS 5. It’s a match in size for the RS 5 in most respects apart from its width, which at 1,964 millimetres is almost 100mm wider. As you’d expect given its twin turbocharged engine and liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery it’s a little heavier than an RS 5 – weighing 135kg more at 1850kg.
Despite the increased kerb weight Audi have made extensive use of aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP), especially the interior support structure which is made entirely of carbon fibre. The passenger cell combines ultra-high-strength steel panels and cast aluminium structural elements, while the doors and wings are made of aluminium, and the roof, bonnet and rear hatch are made of CFRP.
The concept wears 21-inch centre-locking wheels with a five twin-spoke design which contain a set of oversized carbon fibre-ceramic brake discs. The 285/30 R 21 tyres are track-oriented in keeping with the Sport Quattro’s competition pedigree.
The homage to the Ur-quattro continues in the angular flat C-pillars and the rectangular double headlights, while “blisters” above the wings are a tribute to the tautly muscular surfaces of the car which built Audi’s quattro brand in the stages of world rally competition.
The front of the car is characterised by the hexagonal single-frame grille with a new, sculpted grille insert which is part of Audi’s new design philosophy. This motorsport-inspired feature will be used in the future design of Audi’s high performance production models.
The Sport Quattro Concept may be a showcase for Audi’s lightweight construction, but it still weighs 135kg more than an RS 5..
Another distinctive element at the rear of the car is the CFRP diffuser, which extends upward and like the single-frame grille at the front, its upper section is honeycombed. At the base of the rear diffuser are two large oval tailpipes, while a spoiler extends from the rear hatch at higher speeds.
Inside there are race-inspired bucket seats at the front with folding backs and sculpted side bolsters, a crossbeam situated behind the rear seats provides additional rigidity. The multi-function sport steering wheel is a new design and provides a glimpse into future Audi production models and which operates a full digital instrument cluster which can be switched between a number of virtual 3D displays.
In ‘Race mode’ the central speedometer is flanked by track information and a stopwatch, while in ‘Setup mode’ the driver can browse through information about numerous race circuits. The characteristic Audi MMI control unit provides the means to enter information.
Despite being a showcase for much of Audi’s future technology, the Ingolstadt engineers have also paid close attention to the car’s dynamic performance. The front suspension features five control arms per wheel, while the rear adopts Audi’s track-controlled trapezoidal link principle.
Stiffer springs and dampers connect the Sport Quattro firmly to the road, while its dynamic steering varies its ratio as a function of driving speed.
It’s clearly a stunning tour de force, worthy of quattro legend Walter Röhrl, but the big question you’ll be asking is whether Audi will put it into production. Well, make sure you visit the Frankfurt show and share your views (loudly), we suspect you’ll get the chance to buy a limited run of a detuned production version sometime next year.