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Audi Concept quattro at the Paris Motor Show, and some thoughts about it

By Rigval on 04 Oct 2010

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Audi have come up with a quattro Concept car celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Audi quattro. The Ur-quattro, the first production Audi with all-wheel drive and most importantly the first rally car that took advantage of the regulations allowing all-wheel drive to be used mainly in the World Rally Championship. This car managed to win a whole lot of races and championships, both in Group A form and the more radical Group B form. Short, stubby wheelbase and all. Now, Audi have come up with a concept car based on the principles of the Ur-quattro and I hope that this enters production.

What I remember about the original Audi quattro was that it was a 2 door hatchback coupe that had those flared wheelarches, a 5 cylinder turbocharged engine that had a very distinctive sound and then, in Sport quattro form, the shortest, most unstable looking rally monster that looked more at home going sideways than in any other angle. It was magical. Then again any Audi quattro was good to look at. It was the car that started flared arches. This was the first car to use this kind of flares. This arches was used by the Lancia Delta Integrale and in fact the GD Series Subaru Impreza recently. So two other rally cars also owe a whole lot to the Ur-quattro.

Anyway, a 2 door hatchback coupe with flared arches and that 5 cylinder warble is what makes a quattro. For me that is. And with this concept car Audi has not strayed away for this basic path. If fact I wouldn't like it if they did stray as these days they've actually been so far removed from the original in the first place. The new RS models have V8s, V6s but no 5 cylinder warble. The B7 RS4 had an engine note to die for, but a 2 door coupe with a V8 is stunning, but no rally bomber. Try imagining driving an RS5 through the snow or dirt doing powerslides in that huge coupe. It has to be an Audi quattro from 1980, last produced in 1991. Eleven years is a long time for a car. But it was actually so far advanced that it could stay in production for more than a decade.

The Concept quattro uses the current RS5 as a starting point. It has a shorter wheelbase (2600mm instead of 2750mm), 40mm of the roof lopped off and only weighs 1,300kg. Not a portly 1610kg of the RS5 or 1500kg TT RS which is almost the same size and length as this concept car. This was achieved by the cutting of height and length and also the liberal use of aluminium (mainly the suspension) and carbon (for most removable body panels like the spoiler,bonnet, boot and trim). There are also no rear seats. Only space for a helmet and some luggage.

The Concept quattro uses a 2.5liter 5 cylinder engine that makes 408bhp and 480Nm. It runs through a 6 speed manual gearbox and of course all-wheel drive. This enables the concept car to make 100km/h from a standstill in about 3.9seconds yet sip 8.5liters of fuel per 100km, even on those large 20inch wheels. Pretty decent figures for a 2.5liter engined car. This is partly down to the lightweight.

The car also sports center locking hubs that hide 6-pot calipers that grip on carbon ceramic discs. Of course, this being a concept car a lot of this are very expensive parts and may not make it into production.

Audi wants us to notice the similarities of this concept and the Ur-quattro. I suppose there are some similarities, engine, coupe body and all. In fact, the sketch below also shows the Concept quattro with the short wheelbase Sport quattro. But the car somehow looks too rounded and not tonka toy chunky enough in looks.

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I suppose its the similarity to the current design philosophy that likes that coke bottle waistline and slightly bulbous looks. It looks best (like an original quattro modernized) when viewed directly from the side. The front has a gap that is so big that small children may be scared by it. It's still all grille if you know what I mean. And now we also have LED lights (even the headlights) everywhere (front and rear). So the car is more bling with bright lights, especially those show off daytime driving lights, that huge Nuvolari concept type grille, sexy curves at its flanks rather than a butch, squared off type of coupe. No complaints about the interior though. Typical Audi, meaning very, very well built and I suppose this car also showcases the latest Audi Multimedia Interface (MMI) functions too.

A good effort nonetheless. It got me excited for a while, but it somehow tapered out at the end of this article. Too many curves may be a bad thing when it comes to emulating the original. Or were they really looking to pay homage to the original in the first place? Or is just just a marketing stunt? Then I took another look at the side profile and I start loving it. Then I looked again at the front, and I hate it. Audi, get rid of that basking shark-like grille when you get around producing this car. A little subtlety would go a long way.

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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