Audi Quattro concept

With the 1980s coursing so strongly through the veins of popular culture, it's hardly surprising that on-trend manufacturers are mining their archives for material to feed the zeitgeist. And who better than Audi, manufacturer of arguably the most iconic car of the 80's – the Quattro – to herald what is sure to be a slew of concepts. Or is it a case of who's worse?

In the Quattro concept, we find Audi revisiting the most extreme road-going iteration of its icon using an MLP platform shortened by 115mm over the A5 coupe to underscore a proportion that is brutally aggressive. As with the original, the shortened wheelbase and Kamm tail – combined with Audi's trademark long front overhang – contribute to a slightly unsettling stance, not helped by the addition of yet more visual weight to an already heaving DRG. And it has to be said, the addition of 'fangs' beneath the lamps takes Audi's visual aggression to an almost farcical level.

In profile, the short wheelbase again plays a cruel hand, compressing a beltline – already more heavily worked than on the A5 – to the point that it almost breaks at its inflection points. Contributing to this sense of brittleness is the relentless harshness of the DLO graphic. Standing back to drink the car in, it's remarkable that – despite the relatively sensual surfacing – it lacks the subtlety and elegance of the original, boxed arches and all.

The interior is, for us, far more successful. There are delightful references to the 80s original, with its digital gauge pack and cluster-mounted secondary controls – here updated to make use of the latest HMI technology. Audi's now-signature swooping door card graphic is rendered beautifully in raw carbon fiber and buttery soft caramel leather, while the gearshift, oddly priapic in this age of wheel-mounted paddles, evokes a wonderful air of forest stage chic.

Ultimately, however, we weren't bought by Audi's usual – and incredible – attention to detail. We can't recall a time where Audi ever did retro; it was a brand so focused on the future that Audi redux was never given a second thought. For a company that brought us not only the Sport Quattro, but also the NSU Ro80 and the '82 100, this car, with its retro play and more-of-the-same styling, makes us wonder just where Ingolstadt's spirit of innovation has gone


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