Audi Concept Vehicles at Frankfurt/IAA 2013

It would not be an automotive/car show, if there were not any insanely designed and/or high-performance concept cars unveiled to grab the attention of the media and those lucky enough to attend the shows. This year, Audi did not disappointed with the two mental concept cars unveiled just before or at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA).

Both concepts on display at IAA 2013 are two-door coupé or coupé-like vehicles that sure have stirred up not only the Audi community, but also the rest of the world.

Audi nanuk quattro concept

Polar bear. That’s not exactly the image that immediately comes to mind when you see photos of the Audi nanuk quattro concept that was unveiled, to much surprise, at IAA 2013. The name “nanuk” comes from the Eskimo name for polar bear.

Either way, the Audi nanuk quattro concept surprised and shocked the Audi community in that it looked like someone combined an Audi R8 with the Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour Concept (see the two images below). In fact, Audi worked with Italdesign Giugiaro to design the nanuk quattro concept. The concept incorporates a lot of the R8’s current design language, including: the relatively short front-end, open view to the engine bay and an evolution of the iconic side blades.

Audi nanuk quattro concept (Photo by Audi AG)
Audi nanuk quattro concept (Photo by Audi AG)
Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour Concept (Photo via Car & Driver)
Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour Concept (Photo via Car & Driver)

In either case, both concepts take a sports car and turn it into a crossover of sorts. It’s like if someone came up with an idea of a Lamborghini crossover (Urus concept, anyone?) and a sports activity coupé (oh yeah, the BMW X6 M), made it a bit less practical (in terms of utility) and stuff with gobs of power.

In this case, the concept’s mad power comes in the form of a newly developed 5.0-litre V10 TDI that roars out 544 HP and 737.56 lb-ft of nearly Earth-shattering torque (the only thing more Earth-shattering would be an Illudium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator). When combined with a quattro driveline and curb weight of just under 4,190 lb (1900 kg), the nanuk will run 0-100 km/h in 3.8 s flat and all the way up to its 189.5 mph (305 km/h) top speed.

Audi nanuk concept at IAA 2013 (Photo by Audi AG)
Audi nanuk quattro concept at IAA 2013 (Photo by Audi AG)

The nanuk quattro concept combines both carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and Audi’s trademark aluminium Space Frame to form a vehicle that is 178.78 in (4.54 m) long, wheelbase of 106.69 in (2.71 m), and 78.35 in (1.99 m) wide. With an adaptive air suspension, the ride height can be adjusted to be 1.18 in (30 mm) higher than baseline or lowered by 1.57 in (40 mm). In addition to an adaptive suspension, the integral steering system allows the wheelbase to be virtually shortened or extended to match driving dynamics and stability.

As with the newly updated Audi A8 and S8, the nanuk quattro concept makes use of Matrix LED headlights that integrate daytime running lights, turn signals (most American drivers won’t know what those are) and both low- and high-beams.

Even though the nanuk quattro concept will basically never see daylight as a production model, expect to see many of the styling cues to be used as a basis of the upcoming, next-generation R8. Speaking for myself, I would love to see the next R8 get the side blade design from the concept with minimal or no modifications.

Audi Sport quattro concept

First, there was the Audi Sport quattro that had a 2.1-litre 20-valve inline-five engine under its hood and everyone rejoiced.

In 2010, Audi resurrected the soul of the Sport quattro and brought out the Audi quattro concept that had many styling elements (including the thick C pillars and relatively short overhangs) of the original. Under its bonnet was the 2.5 TFSI engine, mounted longitudinally, that was found in the TT RS and RS 3 Sportback, and mated to a nice six-speed manual gearbox. The concept was based on a shortened version of the S5 and RS 5 coupés and weighed in a very svelte 2,866 lb (1,300 kg). Everyone rejoiced even more.

Audi quattro concept (Photo via Audi Media Archives)
Audi quattro concept (Photo via Audi Media Archives)

Even before coverage for IAA 2013 was getting ready to ramp up, there were quite a few rumors of Audi making a 700 HP concept based on the quattro concept. So it wasn’t nearly as surprising when Audi unveiled the latest take on the Audi quattro concept, in the form of the Audi Sport quattro concept. Not everyone was rejoicing.

Audi Sport quattro concept (Photo by Audi AG)
Audi Sport quattro concept (Photo by Audi AG)

Why wasn’t there universal rejoicing with the Sport quattro concept? Well, in order to achieve the 700 HP number, the Sport quattro concept is a plug-in hybrid that is made up of: a biturbo 4.0 TFSI V8 mated with a modified 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox, and an 110 kW electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the gearbox. There is also a sport rear differential to help with handling the beast.

The 110 kW electric motor produces 295 lb-ft of torque from an 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The downside of this set up is the curb weight of the car climbs to a hair under 4,080 lb (1,850 kg), even with Audi ultra lightweight techniques and components are put into use. The switch from a six-speed manual to the Tiptronic gearbox (which is given considering Audi doesn’t have a manual gearbox rated for the combined 590 lb-ft of torque) also raised some eyebrows.

Solely on electric power, the Sport quattro concept can be driven up to 31 miles (50 km). In addition to an EV only mode, the Sport quattro can run in a more traditional hybrid mode, in which navigation data and environmental data is used to determine the best fuel economy. In Sport mode, the electric motor assists the 4.0 TFSI engine to provide the most power to the drivetrain for outright performance. In this mode, 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 3.7 s and tops out at 189.5 mph (305 km/h).

All said and done, the concept has an excellent combined fuel consumption rate of 94 MPG.

Audi Sport quattro concept at IAA 2013 (Photo by Audi AG)
Audi Sport quattro concept at IAA 2013 (Photo by Audi AG)

On the styling front, the Audi Sport quattro concept takes the quattro concept and ups the aggression level to match the much higher performance level that it is now packing underneath the skin. Even though I felt that the super clean look of the quattro concept was perfectly suited for it; using the same styling on the Audi Sport quattro concept would not have been a good match. The larger front intakes, side vents and the angrier face created by the re-worked Single Frame Grille and Matrix LED headlights just exude performance.

Personally, I still prefer the Audi quattro concept with the longitudinally-mounted 2.5 TFSI and six-speed manual for its simplicity and it seemed to reflect Audi’s ultra lightweight technologies. The new concept is an absolute brute of a vehicle that one almost sees from American muscle cars and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division, but still has Audi written all over it.

Expect to see a number of the styling cues to make its way into the next generation A5 family of coupés.

All Audi photos used in this article have been sourced from Audi AG MediaServices or Audi of America News Channel.