Audi’s allroad shooting brake concept offers a ‘concrete look into the future’

There are three things I like in the motoring world: power, efficiency, and shooting brakes (two-door wagons). Delightfully, Audi has just combined all three into one spine-tingling concept car here at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. All me to I present: the Audi allroad shooting brake.

Audi kicks off its write-up of the allroad shooting brake bragging that it hinted at this concept car back at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Don’t beat yourself up; I missed the hint, too. Now that the Germans have embarrassed us, let’s look at the allroad shooting brake’s features.

The muscular form, which is the perfect combination of the allroad and the e-tron, has been carefully formed from aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). The allroad-esque flared wheel arches are accented by e-tron badges on either side of the rear wheels.

Up front, you’ll notice the hexagonal single frame grill from the allroad. Flanking that rather sharp grille on either side are dual headlights, which evoke memories of Audi’s quattro models. They lights aren’t just good looking, though; they also feature Audi’s new Matrix Beam technology.

Stepping back to the rear end, we see a sporty diffuser with two large tailpipes and an open roof spoiler that subtly reminds us that the allroad shooting brake isn’t just about efficiently moving people from place to place, it’s got a hash to settle with the road, too. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The interior is perhaps more striking than the exterior. This four-passenger cabin, draped in dark aluminum and Alcantara, is unapologetically driver focused. The narrow front sports seats hold the driver and front passenger’s thighs during quick cornering. And the center console moves with the front seats so that the driver is always the perfect distance from the controls.

Those controls aren’t always dangling out of the dash, waiting to be covered in spilled coffee; they tuck away into the dash only to push out of the dash when they sense a hand nearing them.

The three-spoke steering wheel doesn’t just include the ignition button and other essential commands; it also includes air nozzles. Behind the wheel is a 12.3-inch TFT color display instrument cluster with 3D graphics with customizable displays.

Although you can’t see it from this one angle of the interior, the whole top of the dash resembles – from a birds-eye view – an airplane wing with the air nozzles mimicking jet engines.

Audi is quick to point out that the back seat can fold flat to store “large sports equipment.”

While I am absolutely enamored with the interior, it’s the bits we can’t see that have me momentarily living in a daydream. The powertrain is a plug-in hybrid unit that, together with a 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, makes 408 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Funnily enough, this is more horsepower the Kaiser Wilhelm had at his disposal in WWI. Arguably, though, he was using actual horses.

Amazingly, the allroad shooting brake clocks in at 3,527 pounds and can still go 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 155 mph. While it’s doing that heroic sprint, it’ll achieve 123.8 mpg and make only 72.43 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. That’s fewer than your toaster makes each morning. All told, the allroad shooting brake can travel 509.52 miles on a single tank of gasoline. Ach du lieber!

Where does all this power and efficiency come from? That 2.0 TFSI makes 292 hp alone. And the pancake electric motor it’s mated to – sandwiched between the engine and the transmission – turns out 199 lb-ft of torque.

What about the second electric motor? It, too makes 199 lb-ft, and is mated to the rear axle and can work independently or in tandem with the front drive unit. So in slippery conditions – or hard acceleration – the allroad shooting brake has an e-tron quattro all-wheel drive system.

Both electric motors are powered by an onboard lithium-ion battery pack mounted just in front of the rear axle for ideal weight distribution.

When you’re not punching this stately shooting brake through the mountain passes, it can be operated in three drive modes: Hybrid, EV, and Sport. They do just what you expect. Intriguingly, though, coming down that mountain pass, all three of the drive units can decouple from the system, allowing for emissions-free coasting.

If you’re like me, you’ve read about dozens of exciting concept cars in the past, just to be disappointed a few years down the road when nothing of the sort ever hit showrooms.

Don’t despair quite yet. Audi’s chief, Prof. Dr. Ulirch Hackenberg, says the allroad shooting brake is “a concrete look into the near future.” Sure, ‘concrete look’ and ‘near future’ are a bit vague. I am going to hold onto my optimism, though, and hope that Audi will soon put something like this metallic blue beauty on sale sometime before 2020.

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