It begins by stepping over Walter Röhrl’s autograph. On the lower part of the driver’s-side door frame is indeed the signature of the man who helped make the original Audi Ur-Quattro the mythical machine it has become. His feats as a rally driver and subsequent test driver for Porsche have also made Röhrl a legend. So it’s only fitting that he should have some connection to this homage, made 30 years later, known as the Audi Quattro Concept.
Up until this point, the car had merely been a vision in Col de Turini white (a nod to the Monte Carlo rally there) on the stands of the 2010 Paris and Los Angeles motor shows. But it works. Oh, how it works.
Based on the architecture of an RS 5 (due in the United States in 2012), it’s shorter, wider and lower, and dispenses with such fripperies as rear seats, air conditioning or an audio system. The hood and tailgate are fashioned from carbon fiber, the body is mainly aluminum. Even the Sparco sports seats are light, about 33 pounds each with an electric motor.
Just like the Ur, the Quattro Concept has a turbocharged inline five. This one is from the TT RS (due Stateside in 2011). It makes 408 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque out of 2.5 liters, then pushes it out to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (from an S4). Audi claims a zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.
Because of the light weight around 2,866 pounds overall, 992 pounds lighter than the donor vehicleshort wheelbase and RS 5 suspension settings, the car can tackle corners like a champ. The steering is quick and direct, the carbon/ceramic front brake discs scrub off speed in a fade-free manner, and when the turbo kicks inwhich it does in a slightly old-school whooshy and blowy waythe drive is every bit as good as the looks. There’s something of the E-tron electric supercar concept about the front, a direction in which future Audi designs will go. And the four-ring logo in the C-pillar is sweetly subtle.
There’s a skunkworks air about the Quattro Concept, but the suits at Ingolstadt have taken notice. If certain engineers in the company get their way, talk is of a limited production run of around 600 vehicles (with the possibility of an S tronic transmission), each costing more than an R8. Then again, the Quattro Concept’s power-to-weight ratio is actually better than a V10-powered R8. Audi, please make this car.