2007 Audi Cross Coupe Quattro Concept

Audi calls it a coupe, but we'd say this concept is a four-door crossover. An Audi USA spokesman insisted that this is not the upcoming Q5 SUV (which we should see early next year), but is instead an exploration of a sportier blend of car, wagon, and SUV. You could throw in convertible too, what with the Cross Coupe's huge, power-operated canvas sunroof.

Mechanically, the Cross Coupe is based on the Audi A3, with a transverse-mounted 2.0-liter, 204-hp TDI (with Bluetec exhaust cleansing technology) mated to Audi's S-tronic gearbox and, naturally, all-wheel drive. The concept rolls on 20-inch wheels and is slowed by ceramic disc brakes. The suspension, of damper struts in front and multiple links in the rear, also features magnetic, adjustable dampers.

In this car, Audi's MMI (Multi Media Interface) supplements its familiar knob controller with a touch pad for more intuitive control of some functions-a technology that's coming to Audi production cars as well. Here, the MMI allows selection of "dynamic" (normal), "Sport", and "efficiency" driving modes. Sport calls up more aggressive throttle mapping, transmission shift patterns, and damping. Efficiency likewise affects the transmission, as well as the cruise control (allowing some fall-off in speed on long upgrades) and the A/C (switching it off unless the driver overrides).

So much for the mechanical bits. The question is: How seriously should we take this car? After all, Audi has taken us down this road before, with the Steppenwolf in 2000 and the Road Jet in 2006. Stefan Sielaff, head of Audi design, describes the Cross Coupe quattro as "a good mixture of the genetic code of the Road Jet and the Steppenwolf. But this time," he adds, "I'm sure we'll get the car into production."

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