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The forgotten Audi Quattro Concept that promised so much

Tyler Heatley

09 Jan 2021

Fire-up the Quattro! Or so we thought… The reborn Quattro concept car of 2010 promised a new era of lightweight Audis that never actually came to fruition. Shame.

The legendary Audi Quattro that went on to redefine rallying with its all-wheel drive system has left quite a legacy. In addition to ultimately becoming a fire-breathing Group B car the world will never forget, its all-wheel drive ethos is arguably the thing that still defines Audi today. Back in 2010 we came so very close to getting a modern-day Quattro.

September’s Paris motor show of 2010 was full of exciting new cars, but it was the rebirth of the iconic Audi Quattro that stole the headlines. Looking every inch a modern interpretation of the classic, this Quattro was to usher in a new era of lightweight Audis.

The concept car took its inspiration from the Ur-Quattro with blunt shapes and a square stance. There are modern Audi design features such as those slim LED lights and a series of clean lines running from nose to tail, but its chinky C-pillar and upright grille are pure Quattro DNA. This short and stocky performance coupe was actually Audi’s way of celebrating 30 years of the iconic rally classic.

The basis of this concept car was an Audi RS5, meaning that a serious all-wheel drive system was at its disposal, but the wheelbase was shortened by a full 150mm. The roofline was also reprofiled and sits 30mm lower. While it used the all-wheel drive system from an RS5, its aluminium and carbon fibre construction was bespoke, something that contributed to the car tipping the scales at just 1,300kg.

A minimalist interior kept the focus on driving, and a pair of 18kg lightweight seats served as the only posts in this sports coupe. However, the centrepiece of the new Quattro was the six-speed manual transmission – a true sign that this car was really designed for the enthusiast.

What lived under the bonnet? In true Quattro fashion it was a five-cylinder engine – a 2.5-litre unit sourced form the TT sports car. Engineers tweaked the motor to produce a tantalising 402bhp and 480Nm of torque, which considering this car’s short wheelbase, all-wheel drive and reduced weight had serious potential. A 0-62mph sprint was claimed to take less than 4 seconds.

How close was the all-new Audi Quattro to becoming a production reality? Well, based on the hugely positive reaction at the motor show, Audi went from only having a show car to a running prototype within a few months. This car was even given to the motoring media of the time to sample.

Audi toyed with he idea of producing up to 500 limited edition vehicles and have the new Quattro as a beautiful homage to the car that effectively made the company what it is today. However, internal politics and a new focus on SUVs would eventually see the project swept under the rug.

Considering the ingredients this car had to offer as a true halo model for Audi, it’s a crying shame that the running prototype is all the Quattro had to show for its 30th anniversary.


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Tyler Heatley

09 Jan 2021