Fear not, Quattrophiles. Despite the cancelation of several sports car projects -- (including the wild, Le Mans prototype-based R20) and a sudden shakeup of Audi's executive roster, the possibility of a modern ur-Quattro coupe revival isn't dead. As evidenced by the new Audi Sport Quattro concept, which debuts at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show, the project is still alive, but with a few new twists.
To start, let's talk size. The new Sport Quattro may bear a close resemblance to the Quattro concept unveiled at the 2010 Paris motor show, but the two are mechanically dissimilar. While the first concept was built from a modified RS5 coupe, the new Sport Quattro show car shares its underpinnings with the five-door RS7. Unsurprisingly, everything is a little bit larger than before. Overall length grows by a foot to 181.2 inches, while the wheelbase is now seven inches longer than before.
Despite the growth spurt, designers--managed to keep the ur-Quattro's look intact, thanks to a super-wide stance, a low-slung roofline, and short overhangs. While the new design does bear a close resemblance to the previous Quattro concept, the Sport Quattro has a unique visual identity. Up front, the hexagonal grille is taller, and is flanked by giant air intakes that stretch all the way to the corners of the bumper. Trapezoidal headlamp assemblies are still in play, but the LED elements within -- which incorporate Audi's trick Matrix LED light-blocking technology -- are arranged into four rectangles, reminiscent of vintage U.S.-spec Quattro coupes. The Quattro concept's large hood scoop is no more, though a set of gills, placed atop the hood near the passenger-side front fender, provide some additional cooling.
Blistered fenders have long been a Quattro hallmark, so it's no surprise to see them reappear on the Sport Quattro concept, albeit in a rounded, more elegant form. 21-inch split-spoke wheels are tucked beneath them, and frame the carbon ceramic brake rotors pulled from the RS7 parts bin. The trailing edges of the front fenders incorporate an air vent framed in carbon fiber, which matches the material used on the front splitter, side sills, and rear valance panel. The rear fenders now seamlessly blend into both the rear fascia and the decklid spoiler, which is now a subtle ducktail lip in place of the Quattro concept's massive fixed wing.
A similar refinement was applied to the Sport Quattro's interior design. Although the Quattro show car's cabin was relatively simple, the Sport Quattro almost looks austere. The two-tone black-and-mocha color scheme is replaced by a sea of black and grey materials, and accented with large helpings of carbon fiber. Climate controls are placed directly adjacent to the gauge cluster, a reconfigurable LCD affair that offers an array of three-dimensional displays. Although Audi's MMI infotainment controller appears on the center console, the steering wheel itself hosts most switchgear, including the ignition switch and controls for the Sport Quattro's driveline.
That driveline is arguably the biggest break from the previous Quattro concept, which boasted a turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and Audi's famed Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Wolfgang Durheimer, Audi's former board member in charge of engineering, envisioned the Sport Quattro as a lean, mean, enthusiast-oriented machine, but rumor has it his successor, Ulrich Hackenberg, feels no modern concept car should go without an eco-friendly driveline.
The Sport Quattro may technically be a plug-in hybrid, but it's also a compromise between both mandates. The RS7's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 remains, but is tuned to produce 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. It's also bundled with an electric motor, which is integrated into the concept's eight-speed automatic transmission. That motor can work on its own to provide up to 30 miles of electric-only driving, but in concert with the V-8, the Sport Quattro packs a total output of 700 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Audi claims the Sport Quattro can sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and ultimately reach a top speed of 190 mph.
Like the last Quattro concept, the new Sport Quattro is also rumored to preview a forthcoming production model. According to Automobile Magazine correspondent Georg Kacher, Audi's Quattro GmBH motorsports subsidiary would likely build no more than 2000 or 3000 units, each with a price tag over $200,000. If Audi's management signs off on the halo car, a version of the Sport Quattro could go into production by 2016.