Paris 2012: Audi crosslane coupé

(Thursday 27 September 2012)

Audi crossline coupe Concept.

The Audi crosslane coupé concept at the Paris Show is partly there to give us an idea of what future Q-branded SUVs may look like. Very helpful, of course, but the real interest lies elsewhere.

This is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, as concept cars almost have to be these days. It's like there's a law or something. The crosslane diverts from the norm, however, in that it has two motors, one of them producing a maximum of 114bhp and acting on its own at vehicle speeds of up to 34mph. The other, producing up to 67bhp, acts as the alternator for the battery pack but also contributes to driving the crosslane, which is said to be able to reach up to 80mph in electric mode.

There's also a 128bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and this is the main power source above 80mph, with the less powerful electric motor lending a hand as required.

Top speed is 113mph, and the 0-62mph time is 8.6 seconds with the engine running or, rather impressively, 9.8 seconds when the motors are doing all the work.

Combined fuel economy, meanwhile, is claimed to be 256.8mpg, and the CO2 rating 26g/km. These are test figures, of course, and their realism is very much dependent on how the car is driven.

The performance, economy and CO2 emissions are all helped by an extraordinary body structure created using three materials. Aluminium is used for the main part, the crash structures, inner sills, centre tunnel, bulkhead and floor crossmembers are carbonfibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and the bodywork is glassfibre-reinforced polymer (GFRP) with CFRP reinforcements where required.

It all seems very complicated, but Audi says it is "convinced" that the Multimaterial Space Frame, as it's called, is "the right path to the future" for reasons of low weight, high strength, low cost and "energy usage in a life cycle assessment", or low environmental impact as we used to call it.

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