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Monday, January 12, 2009

Audi Sportback Concept

Audi A7 Concept


#DAS09 Photos of the Audi Sportback concept leaked out yesterday, but the four-door coupe hatchback labradoodle made its official debut at this afternoon's Audi press conference at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

It's based on the A4/A5 platform architecture, and if it goes into production, we'd expect it to be called the A5 Sportback. Yet, at 195 inches long, this concept is almost 13 inches longer than the A5/S5 (and only 5 inches shorter than Audi's Q7 SUV). It's also 3 inches wider (76 inches) and 1 inch taller (55 inches).

In person, the Sportback looks disturbingly like a lowered BMW X6. However, we heard people raving about the car and the adoring mob around it was so thick, the flesh began to coagulate. This is a good sign for Audi, as company officials say the Sportback heralds the future of its production designs.

afterthepressconference.jpg sportbackf34.jpg sportbackrear.jpg sportbacktail.jpg

Apart from our aesthetic prejudice, the Audi Sportback concept brings all the company's current priorities under one roof. For efficiency's sake, it has the stout 3.0-liter TDI V6 powerplant that's mere weeks away from going on sale in U.S.-market Audi Q7s. It combines that engine with the company's seven-speed automated dual-clutch transmission, this time with dedicated oil cooling.

The Sportback looks plenty large in person -- again like the X6 -- yet it weighs just under 2 tons (3,968 pounds). So Audi's claim that it will accelerate to 60 mph in under 7 seconds is believable. Top speed is 152 mph, and the car gets almost 40 mpg on the European test cycle. An idle-stop feature helps here.

An electric power steering system helps reduce weight, and Audi notes this is the first time it has used EPS in one of its cars with a longitudinal engine layout. Also cutting poundage are the forged aluminum upper control arms and track rods, along with the Sportback's ceramic brake rotors and aluminum calipers.

Inside, the Sportback has the typical four-door coupe seating layout, with bucket seats in back. Cargo space is a hatchback-like 17.7 cubic feet. We'd give up a few cubic feet, though, to get a more graceful tail.

Best of all, says one Audi official, "the Sportback is not a hybrid." -- Erin Riches, Senior Editor