By on August 27, 2019

Audi is teasing a new model slated to debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show — an off-road specialist called the AI:TRAIL Quattro. With massive wheels and a nonexistent approach/departure angle, the conceptual crossover certainly seems ready to scurry up a mountain. But the overall design is more hyper-modern RC car than traditional baja beast.

It’s not coming entirely out of left field. Audi has shown several electrified concepts using a similarly futuristic design language, among them the AICON luxury sedan, PB18 supercar, and AI:ME city vehicle. Like the AI:TRAIL, each is designed to tackle a very specific portion of the market. All will be on hand in Frankfurt to showcase Audi’s vision of what a car could be. 

Audi says putting the vehicles together in one place effectively completes its “quartet of visionary automobiles.” Just don’t expect to see one whizzing by you on the highway. The manufacturer calls the TRAIL Quattro “a concept study for an electrically driven off-roader of the future,” which is basically what it said about the other models — minus the off-road talk. At best, you’ll see some of the cars reemerge in a few years after having been renamed and modified to better suit the general market.

For the TRAIL, that probably means scaling down those massive wheels and adding a bumper or two. As handy as having an approach angle of zero is for off-roading, Audi probably can’t mass produce a vehicle with outboard wheels. But it may allow you to remove panels to ensure there’s nothing between rubber and rock when the time comes to take up a gnarly trail.

That’s speculation on our part, but Audi hasn’t given us much to go on with this one. As the name includes the words “quattro” and “AI,” it’ll surely be all-wheel drive and boast some level of autonomy. Audi also said it will be electrically driven. But that’s all it said.

Details aren’t all that important in a concept vehicle lacking direct ties to a production model and nobody with any sense actually believes this thing can self-drive itself through the worst sections of the Alpine Loop — not that the manufacturer made such a claim. Still, it would be nice to have some idea of the kind of features Audi hopes to implement with the AI:TRAIL, especially if it’s supposed to serve as a template for future designs. Fortunately, Frankfurt is only a couple weeks away.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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