BBC Autos

Audi Sport Quattro Concept: A hybrid homage

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At the Frankfurt motor show, Audi brought two distinct styling approaches to essentially the same problem: creating high performance on- and off-road.

While the Nanuk is the nostalgist-baiting wedge design, the Sport Quattro strikes a more future-forward pose, even as it pays homage to the original Quattro coupe, unveiled at this very show 30 years ago.

The heart of the Sport Quattro is a monstrous hybrid power plant: a turbocharged, 560-horsepower 4-litre V8 engine, combined with a 110kW electric motor that together route nearly 700hp to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Three dynamic modes allow for multiple driving behaviours, and the electric motor is capable of enabling approximately 30 gasoline-free miles.

Up close, the Sport Quattro's toned shoulder and hip lines sit atop subtly flared front and rear wheel arches. The tapered rear end and short decklid are thoughtful reimaginings of the original Quattro coupe.

The Sport Quattro's cockpit design departs slightly from that of current Audis, but remains driver-focussed and businesslike. An aircraft-grade gearshift lever accompanies an oversize multimedia interface knob as the key touch points, set against a configurable digital dashboard with a centre-mounted tachometer. There are seats for four adults, but by the looks of it, the rear accommodations are not intended for long journeys.

There was some speculation on the show floor regarding intentions for producing the Sport Quattro, which has been a design in evolution since the 2010 Paris salon. Audi remains mum, however. A four-ringed beast that evokes the original Quattro coupe, which went on to fame in the dearly departed Group B of the World Rally Championship, would be strong medicine for a significant portion of the company’s fans.