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(from Audi Press
Release) Audi Sportback Concept
DETROIT, Mich., Jan 11,
2009 - Debut in Detroit: Audi is unveiling the Sportback concept
show car at the 2009 North American International Automobile Show.
With systematic refinements to the brand’s characteristic design
elements, the five-door model offers a glimpse at the Audi's future
design vocabulary. With its pronounced coupé-like silhouette and
large rear hatch, the 4.95 m long (16.24 ft), 1.93 m wide (6.33 ft)
and only 1.40 m high (4.59 ft) vehicle is boldly progressive for the
The technology of the Audi Sportback concept is markedly futuristic.
Power is provided by the world’s cleanest diesel technology: the
3.0-liter V6 TDI clean diesel almost completely eliminates nitrogen
oxides. This engine already meets the emissions limits of all 50
U.S. states and the EU6 standard scheduled to take effect in 2014.
And numerous measures to ensure top efficiency mean that the Audi
Sportback concept is expected to achieve impressive fuel consumption
figures of 5.9 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (39.87 US mpg).
Driving dynamics in a new guise –
Since its introduction
in 2004, the concept of the Sportback has established itself in the
compact class. The success of the A3 Sportback has exceeded even the
expectations of its makers – far more customers choose the four-door
model with the large rear hatch than its three-door sibling.
But it is far more than two additional doors that sets the A3
Sportback apart from the base model. It is characterized by the
sporting elegance of a coupe, the versatility of a five-door model,
sophisticated technology and pronounced sportiness – driving
dynamics in a new guise.
It also offers even more space and variability thanks to a tail end
that is a total of 54 millimeters (2.13 in) longer that of the
The launch of the first production Sportback marked the second time
that Audi started a new trend in the automobile market. The
development of the first Avant models in the seventies laid the
foundation for a new class of automobiles far beyond the
matter-of-fact utility of the classic station wagon. The marked
accentuation of a futuristic and dynamic design, high-quality
equipment and extreme variability have been the distinguishing
features of every Audi Avant from the very beginning.
The Audi Sportback concept show car is now rolling up to the
starting line with a dual mission: As suggested by the name, it
symbolizes the Sportback principle in its purest form in the
combination of elegance, sportiness and variability.
And the show car also signals the company's determination not to
limit Sportback versions to the compact segment. As previously
indicated by the Audi A1 Sportback concept – the star of the 2008
Paris Motor Show – the brand with the four rings is going to
dramatically expand the number of Sportback models on the market.
The design of the Audi
Sportback concept is characterized by an almost monolithic clarity
and a vast reduction of the number of lines. The roof, shoulder and
sill lines appear to have been drawn with a single stroke. The
window strip of the coupé with its four frameless doors was kept
pronouncedly flat. Viewed from the side, the softly contoured wheel
wells over the 10-spoke, 21-inch wheels reinforce the impression of
the precisely defined surfaces of the body.
One feature familiar from the two-door Audi A5 coupé is even more
boldly accentuated here: The markedly horizontal shoulder area
emphasizes the orientation of the vehicle body to the road. This
effect is further reinforced at the front and rear by the broad,
flat LED light units. The shape of the almost fragile-looking side
mirrors is inspired by the upturned tips – the “winglets” – of
modern jet wings.
The show car also offers a new interpretation of the single-frame
grille. The decision not to use vertical struts and the low overall
height emphasize the sporty basic proportions of the vehicle front.
Also particularly striking is the modified outer contour of the
single-frame grille as also featured on the A1 Sportback show car.
The flattened top edges lower the visual center of gravity and
provide a striking look for the front end.
The aerodynamically designed air intakes under the headlights
function as air deflectors which guide the required cooling air
precisely into an intake duct. They have the stylistic effect of
accentuating the impression of width.
The tail of the show car is also evidently related to the A5 coupé.
The high top edge of the rear hatch gives rise to a strikingly clear
surface below the rear lights.
The low separating edge and the horizontal lines – another
characteristic feature – underscore the width and therefore the
sporty nature of the Audi Sportback concept. The four tailpipes
integrated into the body and an air deflector in the diffuser insert
are cues borrowed from the sportscar sector.
The interior design is tidy and downright purist yet elegant at the
same time. The large glass roof underscores the width and feeling of
spaciousness. In the driver-oriented cockpit, the air vents,
instrument cluster and retracting MMI monitor are outlined by a
filigree aluminum border.
As with the exterior, the interior is characterized by the emphasis
on horizontal lines and large surfaces. Especially the wide center
console – stretching from the dashboard to the back – seems to be a
pure expression of function.
The flat display of the MMI system is realized as a retractable
system in the show car. When the ignition is activated, it extends
horizontally from a slot above the central air register before
moving in an elegant arc into a vertical, easy-to-read position.
The high quality of the materials and manufacturing-level fit and
finish are obvious when looking around the interior of the Audi
Sportback concept and when touching the surfaces. The interior trim
is almost completely in leather: from the headlining, dashboard,
doors and the entire seat upholstery all the way through to the
trunk, with the leather stitching underscoring the vehicle’s design
language. The large wood trim strips on the instrument panel, center
console and doors are machined from oak blockboard and sport a
delicate horizontal pattern of light and dark lines.
With its surfaces of piano lacquer and brushed aluminum, the MMI
control unit also adds to the exceptional exclusivity of the
interior. The attention to detail even extends to the door opener:
Its shape is a nearly perfect reflection of the distinctive lines of
the small rear side window – giving the interior and exterior formal
Four sporty seats await the driver and passengers. The
diamond-shaped stitching of the leather surface is reminiscent of a
classic GT tradition. Shoulder, head and leg room are reminiscent of
a premium-class touring car. With a volume of 500 liters (17.66
cubic feet), the trunk is generously sized and is also appointed
with high-quality materials.
The developers at Audi
chose the world’s cleanest diesel technology as the unit best
befitting the Audi Sportback concept show car. The six-cylinder 3.0
TDI clean diesel is equipped with a system for the effective
reduction of nitrogen oxides. The diesel engine development
engineers at Audi have combined an entire package of innovative
measures for this latest TDI generation: The piezo common rail
system with an injection pressure of 2,000 bar, highly efficient
exhaust gas recirculation and optimized turbocharging result in
significantly reduced raw engine emissions. One of the highlights
are the combustion chamber sensors that enable even more precise
regulation of the combustion processes in the engine – this is the
first time that such sensors have been installed on any engine in
the world, marking yet another Audi innovation.
The status of the new-generation TDI as the definitive
clean-running, high-tech diesel is sealed by the downstream exhaust
emission control system, which reduces emissions by up to 90
percent. The system uses AdBlue, a biologically degradable,
waterborne additive that is injected in small amounts upstream of
the DeNOx catalytic converter. In addition to the catalytic
converter, the exhaust emission control system comprises the
metering module, the AdBlue tank and heated lines, as well as an
extensive system of sensors. The additional oxidizing catalytic
converter and the highly efficient, regulated diesel particulate
filter round off the comprehensive emission control system.
Thanks to their extremely low emission levels, these modern
direct-injection diesel engines can be put into service anywhere in
the world, even in the U.S. state of California, which has the
world’s most stringent emissions limits. Compared with the fleet
average of the gasoline engines typically found in the U.S., the TDI
boasts a fuel-efficiency advantage of up to 40 percent. The diesel
technology thus makes a greater contribution than any other type of
engine to reducing the consumption of fossil fuels. Audi will offer
this engine in the U.S. and Europe beginning in 2009.
As in the U.S. version of the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI, the V6 also produces
165 kW (225 hp) and 550 Nm (405.66 lb-ft) of torque in the Audi
Sportback concept. Power is transferred to the wheels via Audi’s
most modern transmission: the new 7-speed tiptronic. The quattro
permanent all-wheel-drive system ensures that the torque generated
by the powerful TDI is also converted effectively into propulsion
and dynamism under any conditions.
Weighing just 1,800 kilograms (3,968.32 lb) and with a drag
coefficient of 0.30, the coupe will accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h
(62.14 mph) in less than seven seconds and reach a top speed of 245
km/h (152.24 mph).
The Audi Sportback concept’s average fuel economy according to the
European ECE standard is only 5.9 liters of diesel per 100
kilometers (39.87 US mpg), and its CO2 emissions no more than 156
g/km (251.06 g/mile). These sensationally low figures for a large
model have been achieved by extensive efficiency-optimizing
For example, this model’s electromechanical power steering only
consumes energy when the steering is turned, not when driving in a
The TDI engine features an innovative temperature management system.
When the engine is warming up, part of the coolant flow is diverted
– another way to improve efficiency, since it helps the engine to
warm up quicker. This means significant practical savings, because
many journeys are fairly short. The fuel pump also runs only when
there is a demand for fuel, and therefore uses less energy.
The 7-speed S tronic transmission is a very efficient unit with a
wide spread of gear ratios. For the first time, it has been equipped
with transmission oil heating, so that it reaches its intended
operating temperature much earlier and therefore has a lower level
of internal friction.
When coasting, the Audi Sportback concept – like the Audi A4 and
Audi Q5 production models – recuperates energy. This boosts the
output of the alternator and is used to charge the battery. This
energy, which in effect costs nothing to recover, is fed back into
the vehicle’s electrical system when needed. An automatic start-stop
system shuts the TDI engine down to save energy, for instance when
waiting at a traffic signal.
And when it is on the move, tires optimized for low roll resistance
cut fuel consumption significantly without incurring any
disadvantages in the performance area.
The Audi Sportback
concept show car took the basic architecture and many components of
its suspension from the brand’s latest and most successful model
family: the very dynamic A4/A5 model series. The dynamic suspension
sets standards here, as well, combining precision and dynamism with
high stability and superior poise. The suspension mountings,
steering, wheels and brakes have been developed for top performance
and numerous aluminum components are used to keep unsprung masses to
The new five-link front suspension makes a major contribution to the
car’s dynamic character. By moving the differential further forward
and the clutch further back, the design engineers were able to
reposition the front axle 154 millimeters (6.06 inches) further
forward. The result is an optimal distribution of weight between the
front and rear axles.
The front suspension is made up of five links per wheel – a support
link and a control arm at the bottom and two control arms at the
top. The fifth link – the track rod – connects the steering box and
the pivot bearing. All these links are made of forged aluminum,
ensuring low unsprung masses, ultra-precise wheel control and a high
level of crash safety. The anti-roll bar fabricated from a
high-strength tube saves additional weight. The backbone of the rear
axle is a subframe with high flexural and torsional rigidity.
If sporty handling is to be combined with a high standard of ride
comfort, the unsprung masses must be kept as low as possible. Audi
has pursued this approach for all the rear-axle components. The
upper control arms and the track rods are of forged aluminum. Their
high rigidity ensures that toe and camber angles change very little
when dynamic forces act on the wheels.
The CDC (continuous damping control) shock absorbers, similar to
those that Audi already uses on the luxury Q7 SUV with air
suspension, are twin-tube, gas-filled hydraulic units with an
additional external valve and connecting pipe. Their operation can
be continuously varied.
An electromagnetically energized, proportional-action valve
regulates the flow of hydraulic fluid between the inner and outer
damper tubes. A smaller flow cross-section makes the damping
characteristic firmer, a larger one makes it softer.
The control unit applies adaptive operating characteristics within
the mode the driver has chosen via Audi drive select. It adapts to
match the driver’s driving style and the road conditions. Even from
the comfort mode, the shock absorbers can be switched in an instant
to a firm setting if desired, though not to the absolute limit. They
are fitted in conjunction with sports suspension springs, which
still provide a good level of ride comfort, even off-road.
The control unit selects the optimum damping force for the current
driving situation, for instance firmer damping to prevent body roll
and pitch when cornering fast or braking, or lower damping force
where the surface under the wheels is hard and uneven.
The show car marks the first time that Audi has used
electromechanical steering in a car with a longitudinal engine. Its
primary advantage is that, unlike conventional power steering
systems, it only consumes energy when actually steering. On average,
this means a fuel saving of 0.2 liters per 100 kilometers, depending
on driving conditions.
The electromechanical steering of the Audi Sportback concept also
enables the coupling with the parking steering assistant for fully
automatic steering when parallel parking.
The Audi Sportback concept is equipped with ceramic brakes on all
four wheels for effective deceleration even under the most demanding
conditions. Compared with conventional steel disks, ceramic brakes
not only last four times longer, up to 300,000 kilometers (186,411
miles), but also offer high resistance to fading. The significant
reduction in weight also leads to advantages in terms of comfort and
handling, thanks to reduced unsprung masses.
On the front axle, 380-millimeter (14.96-inch) ceramic disks are
fitted in combination with 21-inch wheels. The rear disks have a
diameter of 356 millimeters (14.02 inches). The elaborate cooling
duct geometry of the ventilated brake disks ensures optimal cooling
of the brake disks. Firm grip on the brake disk is guaranteed at the
front by 6-piston monobloc aluminum brake calipers, and at the rear
by floating-caliper brakes.