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Audi Concepts:
The quattro Concept

April 19, 2013 by Matt

2010 Audi quattro Concept White

As much as I covet the quattro Concept, I’m actually kind of glad Audi decided not to put it into production.

Why? It’s too retro. It’s a developmental dead-end. As a nostalgia piece it’s a brilliant tribute, echoing not only exterior details like the classic Quattro‘s aggressively stubby proportions and box flares but also its businesslike interior and especially its iconic turbocharged 5-cylinder engine. No mere automotive sculpture, it’s a real working car, driven in anger by more than a few automotive publications.

2010 Audi quattro Concept White

But had Audi produced it, even as a limited-run model, as many implored them to do as it graced the auto show circuit in 2010, the quattro Concept would have met with the same fate as other unabashedly retro concepts like the Plymouth Prowler or the 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird: Constrained to its niche and not really relevant to any of the other cars in the manufacturer’s lineup. One of Audi’s greatest assets as an automaker is their brand cohesiveness; some may call it lack of creativity but there’s real value in their cars’ messaging consistency across the model line, and a production quattro Concept would have been a bit of an outlier, even as a halo car.

2010 Audi quattro Concept Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dash Dashboard

That said, even as a one-off homage, the car demonstrates a few aspects of Audi’s way forward. The grille shape and headlight treatment, for one, seem to represent the direction those of the rest of the marque’s lineup are headed—with the logo moved up above the grille onto the hood for a cleaner look. The 402-hp, 2.5l 5-cylinder engine, lifted from the TT RS, seems in tune with the latest trends in engineering and has a considerable amount of development potential remaining. Most significantly, the quattro Concept signaled Audi’s newfound commitment to lowering their cars’ weight, tipping the scales at a lithe 2,850 lbs. After several decades of ballooning car mass, via the quattro Concept, Audi’s statement was, “We’re fighting back.”

Audi showed commendable self-restraint in not producing such a desirable car. I can admire it as a hat tip to its creator’s legacy, infused with a few glimpses of the future.

Image credits:

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series discussing Audi’s rich history of noteworthy concept cars. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Audi, Audi Concepts, Concept Cars


  1. Interesting — and I don’t necessarily disagree.

    What do you think of the one-off ‘new’ Lancia Stratos? And more broadly, is it in fact possible to do a retro throwback model and have it actually work?

    • Matt says:

      Honestly, I don’t think much of the new Stratos. Sure it looks great and goes like stink, but it’s essentially nothing more than a re-bodied Ferrari F430. Yes, the original did use a Dino V6, but the concept was utterly new; before it came along nobody had thought to fuse the rough-and-tumble rally ethos with supercar glamor. It was stubby but beautiful, and yet built like a tank. The new Stratos doesn’t follow that line of thinking at all; AFAIK it’s a road-only car. Sure, its lines pay homage to the original but the philosophy is totally different. Truth be told, you could probably say the same about the quattro Concept, but at least Audi developed the chassis in-house…

      I think it’s possible to make a retro car work if one or both of the following conditions are met:

      1. The original must have been mass-produced.
      2. The new car must not ape the original too slavishly but only appropriate general themes.

      The Viper worked because it only copied the overall feel of the original Shelby Cobra. The PT Cruiser and New Beetle worked because they met both conditions. The most recent Thunderbird and Ford GT flopped because they mimicked the originals too closely. As for the Plymouth Prowler and Chevy SSR… Who knows. YMMV.

  2. John D says:

    While I am displeased that it will not go into production, it’s probably for the best. If this beautiful, powerful, and lightweight car had been made available for purchase, I undoubtedly would have sold my house and moved my family into a rental single wide to do so…and I’m sure that would have made for some amount of marital strife. I love the look, the proportions, the size, and the power. I am always on the lookout for the next fun car that will be the successor to the FD, but nothing ever seems to measure up. This would and I would want one. Badly.

    Still. It’s sad that this perfect concept will never become reality. Oh, what could have been…

    • Matt says:


      I tend to agree. :) Hopefully, if Audi (and other automakers) really are serious about paring down their cars’ weight, we’ll see many more sub-3,000 lb sports cars in the future. I’m already hugely encouraged by the FR-S / BRZ.

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