Audi have officially arrived at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. After a short overnight hop across the border, stopping for a quick freshen-up and a bacon bap at the motorway service station, they reached the French capital armed with an intriguing new concept. Named the Crosslane Coupe concept, this 2+2-seater convertible compact SUV apparently explores the future design of Audi’s next generation Q models.
There has been much crowing from Audi about their concept’s new natty piece of bodywork, or the Multimaterial Space Frame to give it its technical Star Trek name. Comprised of three materials – aluminium, carbon fibre-reinforced polymer and glass fibre-reinforced polymer – the body of the Audi Crossline Coupe concept breaks new ground in terms of weight, costs and energy usage. It’s just a shame that this mish-mash of spare parts salvaged from the area 51 scrap yard has been fashioned in to a chunky, angular and utilitarian looking creation by the design bods at Audi. Strangely, it seems almost military in styling.
The big draw is, of course, the dual-mode petrol/electric hybrid drivetrain, a system based around Audi’s purpose-built 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors, which supposedly offers up to 256.8mpg. No, do not seek medical help, you are not hallucinating. Sounds outlandish, but that is what Audi are claiming. That translates to a range of 53 miles under electric power alone.
So, other than possessing the stamina of a small nuclear reactor, what does the Crosslane Coupe concept offer in the way of performance? Well, the combined power of the 1.5-litre petrol engine and the two electric motors delivers 175bhp, propelling the Crosslane from 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds up to a top speed of 113mph. On its own, the petrol motor produces 128bhp and 147 lb/ft torque but below 80mph the Crosslane can be switched to ‘cruise’ mode for full electric driving. In fact, up to 34mph, it runs exclusively on good old green power.
The front of the car is dominated by the blocky grill, sliced and diced in to several segments by robust looking struts and the tetris theme continues below with the gaping air intakes incorporated in to the bumper.
At the back, an aluminium diffuser extends up from the rear bumper. The boot is entirely separate from the rest of the body and is attached to the rear seats. At the press of a button, it can be moved 40cm forwards revealing a flat cubby hole beneath, perfect for storing “dirty or wet objects” according to Audi. We presume they don’t mean dogs.
Audi stress that the Crosslane Coupe provides a glimpse in to the possible future of their Q modules. Whether it will ever become anything more than just a test bed is unclear, but I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that we would all welcome another non-descript, jack of all trades, mini-micro SUV to the already bulging soft-roader market. Wouldn’t we?