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Audi’s 700hp Sport quattro hybrid concept once again reshapes the supercar landscape


The Audi Sport quattro concept is a plug-in hybrid so powerful that Audi refuses to sell it.

At the Frankfurt Auto Show this year, both BMW and Audi are looking backwards as they race forward with two new, very special, very distinctive coupes.

On Tuesday we saw a sneak peek at the new BMW i8 – the plug-in hybrid sports car destined to carry on the 8 Series legacy. And today we see this: the Audi Sport quattro concept.

The Audi Sport quattro concept is the latest iteration of Audi’s infamous – and now ancient by automotive terms – Sport quattro lineage.

First introduced in 1983 with the Sport quattro, the hot hatch challenged what it meant to be a supercar in the late 20th century. Although it packed a permanent all-wheel drive system and a 306 horsepower engine, the quattro didn’t quite look the supercar part. Despite its less than inspiring looks, the quattro would go on to win the 1987 Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado and find a spot in the hearts and minds of young boys every where. I’d know; I was one of them.

Delightfully, the 2013 Audi Sport quattro concept picks up where its predecessor left off. This time, however, it has more power. A lot more power.

Just like its BMW rival, the i8, the Sport quattro concept, too, is a plug-in hybrid. Unlike the three-cylinder i8, however, the Sport quattro concept is powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo TFSI V8 mated to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission, which sends power to the quattro all-wheel drive system, featuring a sport differential on the rear axle.

In between the V8 and the transmission is a pancake electric motor that creates 147 horsepower and 295.02 pound-feet of torque, which is powered by an onboard lithium-ion battery pack. The addition of the electric motor takes total system power output to 700 horsepower and 590.05 pound-feet, which is more power than 35 Ford Model Ts – literally.

With the V8 and electric motor working together, the Sport quattro concept will sprint to 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 189.52 mph. You don’t always have to drive it like you stole it, though. The Sport quattro concept can be driven in three modes: EV, Hybrid, and Sport.

In EV all electric mode, the car will travel up to 31.07 miles on a single charge and spare the life of at least one polar bear. Hybrid mode is exactly what it sounds like. Except, in the Audi, it utilizes the navigation system to travel the most efficient route. It will display route suggestions through the virtual 3D instrument cluster and head-up display. And Sport is “hold on to your mustache, things are about to get a bit scary” mode.

The Audi sounds fantastic, right? Well, yes, it does. Except it has one big problem.

Unlike the BMW plug-in hybrid sports car, the Sport quattro concept is just that: a concept. Audi won’t sell you one. It might make one soon but if you’re in the market for a high-end German luxury sports car now, you’ll have to settle for the pitifully powered 362 horsepower BMW i8 and go 0-60 a whole second slower.

At that point, though, why even get out of bed?

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