Audi Sport Quattro concept highlights 30 years of tech progress

At the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, Audi will show the Sport Quattro concept, not only a 30-year anniversary marker for its original Sport Quattro, but an illustration of incredible technological progress.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Audi Sport Quattro concept

You can barely swing an auto show season around without hitting an Audi Quattro concept. Previously, we've seen a Metroproject Quattro, a Cross Cabriolet Quattro, and the A1 Clubsport Quattro, but none of these cars can claim as much right to the Quattro name as the Sport Quattro concept that Audi will unveil at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show.

The Sport Quattro concept was built as an homage to Audi's original Sport Quattro model, which first appeared 30 years ago at the Frankfurt show. More than just an anniversary special, however, the Sport Quattro concept comes with a dizzying array of advanced technologies under the hood and in the cabin, and a set of specifications that seem too good to be true.

The new concept looks like an evolution of the Quattro concept that Audi showed off during the 2010 Paris Motor Show, which was intended to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. A two-seater with a fastback body, the Sport Quattro employs curvier fenders than the car it honors. But Audi notes similar cues, such as the wide C-pillars and rectangular headlights.

Audi Sport Quattro concept gains electric boost (pictures)

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Highlighting advances in drivetrain technology, Audi says the Sport Quattro can hit 62 mph in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 190 mph, yet achieve 94 mpg fuel economy and go 31 miles under pure electric power. The fuel economy number is an estimate based on use of the concepts plug-in hybrid and electric drive capability.

Helping its fuel efficiency, the concept's twin turbocharged 4-liter V-8 can deactivate four cylinders when cruising, or deploy all of its 560 horsepower under acceleration. A 110-kilowatt electric motor integrated with the eight-speed automatic transmission runs off a lithium ion battery pack.

Audi puts the total drivetrain output at 700 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque.

The driver can choose from three different drive modes: EV, Hybrid, and Sport. With its 31-mile electric range, the EV mode works for short commutes or errand running, while the Sport mode combines the power from engine and electric motor for maximum performance. Hybrid mode is for everyday, longer distance driving.

The cabin of the Sport Quattro concept provides some interesting hints as to Audi's interior design direction. Simplified instrumentation relies on an LCD cluster and a head-up display, with necessary information presented to the driver in a relatively small footprint. The steering wheel not only holds buttons for instrument display and cruise control, but also drive mode selection.

In some ways, the Sport Quattro concept resembles the Audi S5 production car. As an auto show concept built to honor a hallmark car, Audi announced no plans to build a Sport Quattro production car. But if the technologies Audi detailed for the concept can support the performance numbers, the company could gain a serious edge of its competition by deploying them among its production lineup.

Audi Quattro concepts
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