By on September 4, 2013


My, how times have changed. In 2010, Audi teased us with the quattro concept, a tribute to the original quattro that debuted 33 years ago. It was a lightweight, elemental car with a honest-to-god 6-speed manual gearbox and a turbocharged 2.5L 5-cylinder engine making 408 horsepower while weighing just under 2,900 lbs. Three years later, the Sport Quattro concept picks up the mantle, and things have changed for the worse.

Like everything else these days, the Sport Quattro is a hybrid car. Yes, it has a twin turbocharged 4.0L V8, but there’s also an electric motor and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Sure, it makes 690 horsepower and 590  lb-ft of torque but it also weighes 4000 lbs. Fuel economy is 94 mpg according to European cycle standards and there is 31 miles of electric driving available – all in all a remarkable technological achievement.

Like most great cars, the original quattro was a bit of an accident. cobbled together from leftover bits of VAG parts and the sweat equity of a few engineers. 33 years later, Audi is not a maker of quirky all-wheel drive cars, but a global luxury brand churning out commodity vehicles in a marketplace where regulatory concerns drive vehicle design more than ever, and the tastes of countries considered third world backwaters in 1983 are now of the utmost importance. Things change. I get it.

But it’s not as if anyone buying a German high-performance car gives a rats ass about fuel consumption or green issues anyways. It is a two-fold move designed to appease European regulatory concerns and bolster Audi’s green credentials to people who would probably rather ride bicycles anyways. The greenwashing of high-end performance automobiles strikes me as incredibly cynical if not unnecessary.


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54 Comments on “Audi Sport Quattro Concept Is A Sign Of The Times – A Worrying One...”

  • avatar

    690HP? Is that a combined rating with the electric motor?

  • avatar

    Aston Martin was drunk and hooked up with TC, 10 months later they have this.

  • avatar

    It’s impossible to not wax nostalgic about those the days of yore, but let’s not get full of ourselves.

    Whether it be the average consumer or the dedicated Car Guy, we have more choice today than 33 years ago.

    Mass market commodies in a marketplace unfairly burdened by regulatory agencies is a hyperbole laden copout. If you have the dough, you have access to everything your old man had, plus stuff that he never even dreamed about.

  • avatar

    The worrying part is that it looks generic enough to be a car on Grand Theft Auto: IV. It looks far too aftermarket/amateur.

    • 0 avatar

      You think this looks aftermarket/amateur. Just wait until you see the Lexus LF-NX concept. Just make sure you’re drinking your coffee or milk when you see it.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t put much stock in nonsensical concept cars… which is what the LF-NX is. No door handles, tiny mirrors; I can pretty well assume that the stupid in that concept won’t make production. This looks like it might be production ready. That is the troubling part.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with Quentin. It’s generic but I guess it needs to be if you want to appeal to a greater number of prospective customers.

      The 2010 concept was a better looking car and if produced would have been a hoot to drive.

      This one, well yeah its powerful but as Derek mentioned it’s heavy.

  • avatar

    With all that hardware, the price must be north of $100K, in which case I don’t care if they screwed it up–it’s not on my radar screen.

  • avatar

    I’m not getting the hate of this hybrid V8, sure this particular example is an exercise in pushing the limits, but if a powerful drivetrain coupled with fuel efficiency comes out of it, we’re better for it. Why should German car buyers want to waste excessive fuel like a heavy CUV? What if you could have all of the good from zee Germans with less going into the pockets of the House of Saud?

    I’m far more concerned with the positively awful styling trends of late then the Teutonic green supercar.

    • 0 avatar

      I concur. Looking at what this car should be capable of, I don’t see the problem. Given the likely cost, it is not coming out of the hide of cars like the original Quattro. Cars like the original are gone for the most part but it has noting to do with what drives makers to build cars like this. Usually going “green” comes at the direct expense of performance; here that is not the case. So, I see no reason to complain.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d prefer a hybrid 4 to a hybrid 8 – half the horsepower, 1,000 fewer pounds and hopefully a few tens of thousands of bucks cheaper. The biggest problem I have with the hybrid 8 and weight gain this thing has gotten since the 2010 concept (which I drooled over) is that I can’t imagine the new version as a rally car, which is ultimately what an Audi Quattro should be, at least in spirit.

      • 0 avatar

        The trouble with the hybrid I4 is everyone with a hybrid has adopted the model, so ultimately you’re limited in torque/bhp. I would imagine most of the hybrid buyers today purchase them for fuel economy or political reasons, but I personally would be interested in one if it gave me the best of both worlds: better fuel economy for around town driving and the ability to let loose if I choose too.

    • 0 avatar

      I was excited about the concept because it had a longitudinal 5-cylinder and a manual transmission. So it was actually an homage to the Ur-Quattro. Now it’s just another really expensive hybrid sports car.

  • avatar

    “Greenwashing” is inevitable. Gasoline costs are so high that my monthly fuel bill is like a car note. I wouldn’t mind buying a big plug-in car with an electric motor if it wasn’t overly expensive to purchase.

    I think more luxury barges should be diesel/plug-in hybrids.

    The rich can afford em, they’ll have gobs of early torque and they’ll ride almost silent.

    • 0 avatar

      Your full of sh…. Oh damn, your right. Between work and play my fuel bill is right around 480 bucks a month.

      • 0 avatar

        Is that 2012 Shelby?

        My 300 and our JGCSRT get less than 14mpg. It costs me $60 to fill up @ $4.01/gal super premium.

        No wonder more richers buy the E350.

        • 0 avatar

          Which I am pretty sure you knew they would suck fuel, the price you pay for going in your ride of choice, my fuel bill is a car payment but I drive a ton of miles a month, bought a TDI so at least I get good mileage for my 4,000 miles a month.

        • 0 avatar

          Its a 2009 with a few mods, I tend to get pretty decent mileage for the power my car puts down (547 at the rear wheels) as I average about 17 in my daily commute with instant averages being around 14 for city and 22+ on the highway depending on speed.

          One of these days I need to see what its knocking down at full pace (just need a very long straight road as gears I to IV go by pretty fast) to satisfy my curiosity. I think the worst I’ve seen was down around 6 or 9 mpg at the local drag track.

  • avatar

    I’d like this more if it weren’t banana colored. I really like the back where it’s clearly old 90s Quattro Coupe

  • avatar

    It’s a concept. If it makes into production at all, then it would be a limited production affair.

    The car gives Audi some free PR in the media and at the next auto show, provides some entertainment for the engineers and designers, and offers some opportunities to experiment. The lessons learned here can then filter down into cars that more of us can buy at the local dealership.

    Those are all good things for the company, and some of that effort will eventually benefit those who buy the more humble cars in the lineup.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Derek, this piece doesn’t sound like you. Did you change your brand of corn flakes?

  • avatar

    “But it’s not as if anyone buying a German high-performance car gives a rats ass about fuel consumption of(sic) green issues anyways.”

    I can understand how this would be your idea of how people think, but I can tell you from experience, and that of many others I know that actually are purchasing similar cars, you are quite possibly making a way too broad generalization.

    My specific view is as an owner of a 17mpg average 2008 Audi S5. Sure, I can afford the fuel, even if gas prices rise significantly. But I’d rather not pay a ton for fuel for various reasons. That money could be used in any number of different places that would be better spent, charity being just one example. And to your point about green issues, I’d say you’re just plain wrong on that one. Is it somehow a given that a person that loves performance can only truly love it if it is the sole objective of the vehicle? I mean, seriously, how much performance do you need that you can’t sacrifice some for higher purposes? Quite frankly, Im ready to get rid of my car, because, as much as I love the v8, I hate that it is so fuel inefficient – no, not because it’s costly for me, but because it is costly for the planet. I had to rationalize the purchase initially, and was only able to do so in that I work at home and dont have to drive much, so my overall carbon footprint ends up much smaller than most people’s. But it’s a serious concern to me, as well as likely to many other high income/high education types that would be a target for such a vehicle.

    Yes, I love performance, once in a while. But most of the time I like the luxury of the car, the solidity, the comfort, that it can actually be quiet and civilized, and drive it like a chauffeur – which is actually what Im most often doing with the car – moving other people around. So the safety factor matters a lot as well.

    There’s nothing wrong with loving performance – I get it. But to assume that you must have performance and sacrifice everything else is really only the thinking you should have for cars that are primarily for the track. Most cars that premium segment buyers are purchasing I believe end up on the road, where racing is a somewhat looked down upon pastime, as much as it tempts many of us.

    Now, to the extent this type of vehicle displaces completely vehicles like the RS5, yes, then I can see your point and why you’d see this type of car as a bummer for the future. Im all about people making the choices they want to make, and hopefully the automakers will respond to the market. But honestly, a lot of people that want the RS5 cant afford it, and no one is going to make a $25,000 RS5 equivalent. The car here is likely to be $100,000+, and who is that targeted to? Not rich Arabs racing around London streets – not expensive or decadent enough and those are not the type of buyer that thinks of anything beyond performance – and also not poor US folks. It’s a narrow market, but a market that exists and is growing.

    • 0 avatar

      Well said.

    • 0 avatar
      Vojta Dobeš

      The problem is that in real world, the 400hp five-cylinder that was originally planned would likely return better mileage than this complicated monster full of batteries…

      Getting some pretty numbers in EU fuel economy tests is one thing, making an efficient car is wholy another…

    • 0 avatar

      I do appreciate a vehicle that can combine performance and efficiency, but putting $100k+ worth of energy and resources into building a fancy new car isn’t exactly an environmentally friendly proposition in the first place. So enjoy that S5 and buy something more fuel efficient next time! Or let somebody else if it makes you feel better. Either way, it’ll get used, and the total resources consumed over its life will still be less than that of an exotic hybrid/electric.

  • avatar

    You’d think at this point in the game there would start to be a shift to massive weight reduction as a means to achieve emissions standards. What gives?

    Do y’all think this is ever going to happen?

    • 0 avatar

      What interested me about the concept was that it weighed about 2,900 lbs…

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, with cost efficiencies coming about from carbon fiber fabrication and incorporating it into car design. BMW is using ir in their line of electric cars and I suspect more manufacturers will follow. As CAFE continues to demand better efficiency, we’ll see more and more cars use hybrid power plants combined with lighter platforms. The question always is cost: can these advanced metallurgical and other technologies come down the cost curve fast enough to see their widespread use? I think the answer is yes, within the next decade.

    • 0 avatar

      It will have to happen slowly. Very few people with the money to buy a new vehicle want to risk their life driving something truly lightweight amongst a sea of much heavier vehicles piloted by inattentive drivers.

  • avatar

    I’m busy trying to figure out why the 2010 concept was so much better looking. This one has the wrong proportions – wheelbase is too long, and the dash to axle distance is also too long. Both could be solved by bringing the front wheels back a bit.

    Also the bonnet/fender needs to be flatter, it’s got too much Mazda going on there. That’s fine on a Mazda, by the way, but not here. It needs to be more brutal, like the Ur.

  • avatar

    Meh, it looks like they just slightly changed up the 10 concept. The greenwash motors just to keep the press interested. I doubt they’ll make this anymore than the 10. I would’ve bought the 10.

  • avatar

    F1 and prototypes are hybrids. So the technology is in super cars as well. You can use the motors for low end torque and the rely on the turbos for high end power. As a bonus you meet CAFE standards as well.

  • avatar

    Needs more LED lights. And maybe add a bumper or something, just in case someone has to drive it.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t mind a Dodge Dart with north of 400HP…wait a minute.

    On a more serious note this whole greenwashing thing was cynical the minute that Toyota started giving Prius’s away to celebrities, it only escalated as the years went by.

    If anything we should start firing designers for being as cynically lazy as they’ve been, and forgetting things like green houses and bumpers.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Audi really did turn an interesting concept car into a pointless exercise in excess. That sucks.

    But Derek, you are wrong about hybrids. In a more perfect world, everything over 3000 pounds will have some sort of hybrid drive train to improve city fuel economy and all-around vehicle emissions. Highway fuel economy is acceptable for just about everything out there. What is not acceptable (and what is driving the majority of real-world fuel costs) is the city fuel economy. A small hybrid system can go a long way toward fixing that.

    Hybrid systems will SAVE the large car and the performance car and the truck and the SUV and everything you like about driving. Embrace and encourage manufacturers. And for God’s sake, journalists have to stop eviscerating performance hybrids for not getting 40mpg on the highway. That’s pointless. Journalists need to start pointing out how great it is to be getting ~25 mpg in the city in a performance car.

  • avatar

    This really seems like Audi is just going through the motions to produce what is most likely just a marketing exercise. I prefer the direction BMW is going with the i series and their carbon fiber weight savings to offset battery weight. It’s not like a 4,000 lb twin turbo V8 car is going to be green is it? As an engineering exercise to further future sports car development, the BMW i8 seems more relevant.

  • avatar

    The specs are truly depressing, but at least it looks like a Scion TC. That makes it infinitely more attractive than the Scirocco R featured elsewhere.

  • avatar

    Yet another nail in the coffin of AWD/manual transmission cars. If a 600+hp Audi “sport” coupe goes AWD/auto, the future for 4 driven wheels with 3 pedals is looking even bleaker than it was.

    Want a new, large AWD/MT sedan? You can’t. Mid-size sedan? One model that I’m aware of. Station wagon? You’re kidding, right?

  • avatar

    I seem to remember that the 2010 concept was forecast to be priced at more than $100K. While it was cool, I suspect it wouldn’t have a lot to offer over the TTRS (except maybe back seat space).

  • avatar

    408/2900 = 0.14 while 690/4000 = 0.17 (bigger is better — as long as tires can handle it). Just saying.

  • avatar

    looks like a Dodge Charger

  • avatar

    people with complete F-U money (all those petro playboys who fly in their cars to London for the season’s use and park them in front of their $100M row houses) could care less about a congestion charge or restrictions on access to major city centres.

    however, someone who has the money to buy a 100k (USD,CDN,EUR,GBP, take your pick) car (as the above S8 driver for instance) might not want to spend another $20 every time they drove to work in a nice car. I can completely see where adding $20k of HEV technology to an existing $100k luxury/sports car would be considered normal. just like adding 4matic to an S class is now.

    if Audi and Porsche and BMW start selling meaningful numbers of $100k electrics or HEVs, they’ll make viable business propositions out of them. and the tech will filter down their ranges to more economical product. the fact that Tesla is selling as many cars as they have thus far indicates that there’s at least tens if not hundreds of thousands of people willing to opt for that vs the aforementioned S8/S-class/7.

    the fact that an historic name was attached to a sub-3,000 lb concept and is now instead on a partial HEV near-supercar isn’t a sign of anything other than Audi choosing to go another direction with something they put the quattro name onto.

    there’s all manner of cool sh!t which you can do with electric assist on front axles and as part of tuning which all the vehicle dynamics guys will absolutely love playing with – almost as much fun as the Porsche 918, McLaren P1 and LaFerrari owners will have.

    car companies are not charities nor do they exist to only build Miatae for those of us who want one. the bigger the company, the more cushion they may have to take risks on things which may or may not play out. in this case, someone at Audi decided that a future quattro coupe should be something like this vs what they or someone else (Piech is signing off on it ultimately, so it’s his mind which might have been changed) needs to be something else. no need to get too worried about it or view it as a harbinger of something more than it is.

  • avatar

    Except by 1980 standards, the ur-Quattro wasn’t exactly a lightweight, elemental car. Something weighing 3000lbs was at best a middleweight, and turbos and AWD were still relatively new and complex. More to the point, original road tests note a decent ride and comfortable seats – it was still an Audi, it was just an Audi built to showcase the technology Audi was capable of producing.

    Likewise, this sort of concept is looking forward – this is something that could herald generations of future Audis. Something inspired by the left-field Sport Quattro really isn’t.

  • avatar

    Performance cars are heading in the wrong direction. Manufacturers are increasing complexity to try and comply with all the rules. EXPLETIVE THE RULES. Millions of people ride motorcycles every day. Why not build something like a mass production Ariel Atom? It wouldn’t be as luxurious or “daily drivable” as this behemoth, but then it would probably drive a LOT better, cost a LOT less to run, and be better for the environment. Sure it would be more dangerous, but again, there are still people who ride motorcycles and drive around in old paper maiche cars, not because they can’t afford more, but because they prefer them to monstrosities like this.

    With sportbike sales down the tubes motorcycle manufacturers would be smart to jump on this trend. Imagine, a 12,000 RPM, 150HP, 1000lb AWD go kart… with wind and some light rain protection, for the cost of something like a Corolla. It’s doable and really the only way I see forward. Just needs the buy in of the consumer.

  • avatar

    I must be in the minority, but I think this is very pleasing styling exercise. It’s an Audi so by extension it will be on the spendy side, and a hi-po drivetrain will make it more so.

    Just wish I were rich.

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