As days go, today was a good one. Right up to the first braking zone, at least.
Alone in an original Audi Quattro from 1980, the problem dawned on me just a little too late, going a little too fast. Alone in an original Audi Quattro from 1980 meant using brakes from an original Audi Quattro from 1980. There was very little run off into some concrete. Brakes were applied. Little happened. Thoughts quickly degenerated from ‘wow, today is excellent,’ to ‘wow, I wonder how they’ll identify me when I’ve been smeared across a wall’.
Thankfully, whatever cosmic forces are at work upstairs appeared to be in a good mood, and enough speed was scrubbed from the Audi to turn into the hairpin - tyres squealing - without understeering out of shot and into concrete. Phew. Embarassing phonecall to Audi AG avoided, I pulled over to take stock.
It’s a blinder, this original Quattro. Built in 1980 as a showpiece, it’s a snapshot of a company on the cusp of building a legacy as a technological innovator. And it all spawned from a German military-spec off-roader, the 4WD VW Iltis. Audi chassis engineer at the time, Jörg Bensinger, clearly had a Top Gear moment: why not use such a four-wheel-drive system in a road-going car? [x]
Audi will start the new year with a sensation: At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit in January 2017, the premium manufacturer is to present the Audi Q8 concept. The near-production study represents a synthesis of the emotional styling of a coupé and the spaciousness that typifies an SUV. With this move, the brand is unlocking a new segment for the full-size category.
The study vehicle’s front end is imposing. The octagonal Singleframe is considerably wider than that in Audi’s current production models. It is positioned well forward, with three-dimensional sculpting. Many design elements of the Q8 concept are reminiscent of the Audi Ur-quattro of the 1980s. They include the extremely flat but very wide C-post, and the prominent, flared shoulders above the wheels. These balanced proportions give equal emphasis to the front and rear wheels – typically quattro.