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Paris show: Audi sees the light

Light on: Audi's Quattro Concept gets back to basics with a powerful five-cylinder engine in a stripped-back body.

Quattro Concept strips away the kilos – and years – in Audi tribute to rally beast

30 Sep 2010

JUST days after launching its hot-shot RS5 sports coupe in Australia, Audi has sprung a super-light chopped and channeled short-wheelbase variant of the A5 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its quattro all-wheel-drive system.

The Quattro Concept, armed with a 300kW version of the Audi TT RS’s five-cylinder turbocharged engine, was unveiled on the eve of the Paris show where it will be one of the stars of Audi's line-up, alongside the new A7 Sportback, R8 GT and A1 1.4TFSI.

Weighing just 1300kg, the concept channels the spirit of the 1984 Sport Quattro, returning to the two-seat, light-weight construction that helped Audi to dominate rallying in that era.

The Quattro’s wheelbase has been shorted by 150mm, while the roof has been chopped 40mm compared with the four-seat RS5 coupe. As well, the rear overhang has been bobtailed by 200mm and the C-pillar thickened and emblazoned with the four-ring logo.

The RS5’s 4.2 FSI V8 has made way for the smaller and light five-cylinder, mounted longitudinally instead of transversely, as it is in the TT.

Despite its smaller capacity, the five-cylinder engine can propel the light Quattro from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds – faster by more than half a second than the more powerful but heavier RS5 and in a similar time to the V10 R8 supercar.

7 center imageThe redesigned front of the Quattro is dominated by a brooding black frameless grille and two vertical brake air ducts below narrowed LED leadlights.

A letter-box slit bonnet scoop stretches across the leading edge of the hood, apparently to provide better air flow to the engine.

Like the RS5, the Quattro has a spoiler that extends automatically from a recess in the boot lid, but in this case, it is larger and made of carbon-fibre, as are the side skirts, rear hatch and bonnet.

The body in white, Audi claims, weighs just 159kg.

The weight-saving continues inside, where the sports seats tip the scales at just 18kg each – 40 per cent less than a conventional seat.

The shortened space previous occupied by the rear seats now houses a mere shelf for “helmets or luggage”.

Tributes to the original rally car are dotted around the cabin. These include four big flat buttons on the dash, two of which control the stop watch function in racing mode, which has graphics mimicking the digital read-out of the original rally timing gear.

Electronic gadgets include web radio connected via the driver’s mobile phone and a MMI system that can group all data such as contacts, be they on the phone or on-line, into view.

The 2.5-litre engine’s peak power of 300kW is achieved between 5400rpm and 6500rpm, while peak torque of 480Nm starts at 1600rpm and rolls through to 5300rpm. Fuel economy is said to be 8.5 litres per 100km.

Naturally, the Quattro employs the latest version of Audi’s all-wheel-drive system, which has been lifted from the new RS5.

Aluminum suspension members, ceramic disc brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels are standard. The latter have a central locking mechanism – another throwback to the “Ur Quattro” rally special.

Although Audi say the Quattro is only a show car, Britain’s Autocar quotes the car’s designer, Steve Lewis, as saying: “We've talked about a run of 500 units."

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