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Audi aims for the moon with the A4 allroad quattro, h-tron concept … and a lunar rover

Audi’s Quattro nameplate has been a legend of motorsports for nearly 40 years, and the brand’s all-wheel drive system of the same name has been helping drivers get a grip for just as long. It’s been featured on everything from large SUVs to breakneck sports cars in that time, and at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, Audi showcased the system’s versatility with three new models.

A4 allroad quattro

Audi A4 allroad quattro
Audi A4 allroad quattro

As its name suggests, the A4 allroad quattro is essentially a raised version of the A4 Avant, with an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance for more all-terrain freedom. The car “combines high-riding driving comfort with off-road qualities,” describes Audi, which could make it the perfect choice for Subaru Outback lovers who need a little more opulence in their lives. The A4 allroad quattro is Europe only, however.

Outside of its puffed-up exterior and new jagged headlights, the vehicle boasts five engine choices — both diesel and gas — which range in output from 150 horsepower all the way up to 272 hp. There are a variety of transmission options as well, including a six-speed manual, seven-speed S tronic, or eight-speed tiptronic. Quattro all-wheel drive is, of course, standard.

The A4 allroad quattro also benefits from “offroad mode,” which uses unique suspension damper controls to keep you composed on the dusty trail. The vehicle hits showrooms in Europe this summer for a starting price of 44,750 Euros ($48,661).

Powered by hydrogen

Audi h-tron quattro concept
Audi h-tron quattro concept

On the other end of the stage, Audi took the wraps off the hydrogen-fueled h-tron quattro concept. Dubbed a “technology study,” the sharp and angular people-carrier looks like an evolved version of the aforementioned A4, but it couldn’t be more different underneath the skin.

Instead of conventional gasoline and diesel power sources, the h-tron uses a hydrogen fuel cell to deliver energy to a pair of electric motors — one on the front axle and one on the rear. Total output between the two is 230 kW (308 hp), and although the SUV is no sports car, 0 to 60 comes in less than 7.0 seconds. Better yet, the vehicle can be refueled in less than four minutes and has a range of up to to 372 miles.

The hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors aren’t the only examples of progressive tech on the car, because outside of its curved OLED displays and tablets for rear passengers, the h-tron gives us a taste of the piloted driving and parking systems that will show up on the next-generation A8 sedan. The vehicle’s central driver assistance controller (zFAS) “computes a model of the car’s surroundings in real time and makes this information available to the assistance systems and the piloted driving and parking systems,” Audi says. “The latter can assume driving tasks during parking or in stop-and-go traffic on freeways at speeds of up to 60 kmh (37.3 mph).”

To the moon!

Audi lunar quattro
Audi lunar quattro

Audi’s Earth-going vehicles received most of the attention onstage in Detroit, but the company also gave us a new look at its lunar quattro rover, which it hopes will a make literal moonshot in 2017. Audi is supporting a team of German hopefuls called Part-Time Scientists, who have entered to win a $30 million check as part of the Google Lunar X Prize contest. Once on the moon, the automated vehicle must drive one-half kilometer and transmit images and video footage back to Earth. Read more about the rover here.

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