Audi Sportback Concept Preview
By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
- A sneak peek of the upcoming 2010 Audi A7 sedan
- 4-door coupe body style
- 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel V-6 engine
- 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox
- Standard quattro all-wheel drive (AWD)
- Powerful and lightweight ceramic brakes
- Estimated 40 mpg on the highway
The Audi Sportback Concept, introduced at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, is a coupe-like full-size sedan with a large rear hatchback. According to the automaker, ".the 5-door model offers a glimpse at Audi's future design vocabulary." This may be an understatement, as most generally accept the Sportback Concept show car to be a close representation of the upcoming 2010 Audi A7 sedan. Audi offers the same "Sportback" design-a "4-door with a large rear hatch"-in their A3 model, introduced in the U.S. in 2006 (interestingly, it was AMC who coined the term "Sportback" with their Hornet back in the 1970s). Audi says the Sportback design allows consumers to enjoy the sporting elegance of a coupe, the versatility of a 5-door hatchback, sophisticated technology, and pronounced sportiness all in one vehicle. The 2009 Audi Sportback Concept show car symbolizes this design principle. Audi adds, ".the brand with the four rings is going to dramatically expand the number of Sportback models on the market."
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The Audi Sportback Concept's design is characterized by an ".almost monolithic clarity and a vast reduction of the number of lines," according to the automaker. The roof sweeps back in a single stroke, lending continuity to the overall design. From the front, the familiar Audi rings are set in the upper portion of a large angular grille with multiple horizontal slats. Aggressive headlights, trimmed with Audi's signature LED lighting elements, are set wide on each side. Directly below the headlamps are large intakes for cooling the massive front brakes. The Sportback Concept's profile is characterized by prominent shoulder creases, four individual door handles recessed nearly flush with the body, chrome-trimmed windows taper rearward, and a blackened B-pillar to enhance the visual appearance of an open greenhouse-an effect emphasized by the spacious glass roof. The Sportback Concept also features LED taillamps set below each side of the rear integrated decklid spoiler, and dual exhaust outlets integrated into the bumper for a refined appearance.
The interior reflects the advanced styling of the exterior. Near-white colored quilted leather upholstery covers the seats and doors, while light matching materials line the rest of the cabin, accentuating the openness. The driver-oriented cockpit is trimmed in rich woods and aluminum borders. Situated between the seats is Audi's familiar Multi-Media Interface (MMI) control.
The Sportback Concept features the world's cleanest diesel technology, according to Audi. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter V-6 TDI (turbocharged direct injection) diesel powerplant rated at 225 horsepower and 405 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine burns very clean, according to the maker. The engine and catalytic urea injection nearly eliminate nitrogen oxides from the exhaust, helping the powerplant to meet emission requirements in all 50 states. Although the EPA has not formally tested the Sportback Concept, Audi claims the vehicle will achieve about 40 mpg in highway driving. The standard transmission is an electronically controlled 7-speed S tronic automatic, and power is routed through Audi's permanent quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. According to Audi, the Sportback Concept will accelerate to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, and reach a top speed in excess of 150 mph.
The front suspension is an independent 5-link design made from forged aluminum. The independent rear suspension also features forged upper control arms and track rods. Forged aluminum suspension components are lighter than steel, thus reducing the amount of mass that needs to travel up and down with undulations in the road, improving the vehicle's handling and ride. The shock absorbers are twin-tube with continuously electronic variable damping. Bringing the Audi Sportback Concept to a quick stop are massive multi-piston ceramic brakes. The composite race-tested braking system offers excellent stopping power, lighter weight, and a vastly improved service life, Audi says. Large, 21-inch alloy wheels are fitted at each corner of the Audi Sportback Concept.
Audi has added several innovative technologies to boost the fuel efficiency of its Sportback Concept:
- When coasting, the vehicle recuperates normally lost energy to boost the output of the alternator and charge the battery. The energy, which essentially costs nothing to recover, is then sent back to the vehicle's electrical system as needed.
- The engine's cooling system features a temperature management system that diverts the flow of coolant allowing the engine to reach operating temperature sooner, thus reducing emissions.
- The 7-speed transmission is fitted with a heater to immediately warm its oil in an effort to quickly reduce friction.
- An electromechanical steering system eliminates one of the accessory belts, reducing the load on the engine.
- Ceramic brakes weigh less than traditional cast-iron rotors. The reduced mass at the wheels decreases the load on the engine needed to accelerate the vehicle, thus saving fuel.