First Look: Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept

Is it a coupe, a crossover, a convertible? Audi says all three.

by on Sep.27, 2012

The Audi Crossland Coupe Concept adopts advanced, lightweight materials like carbon fiber, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and a slick social media system.

Spend much time with automotive planners, designers or engineers at this year’s Paris Motor Show and you’re bound to hear the words, “white space,” come up quite frequently.  In today’s hotly competitive automotive market, manufacturers are struggling to find products that carve out their own unique identity.

In some cases, makers hope to come up with all-new segments – as Chrysler did in the mid-1980s with the first modern minivan. Others want to find unique ways to combine existing products – the route Audi chose with the Crosslane Coupe Concept making its debut this week in the City of Lights.

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The Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept is, the maker explains, a blend of crossover, convertible and coupe.  And it makes use of plenty of advanced technologies, both in the basic platform, body and powertrain, as well as inside the concept’s very sophisticated interior.

The Audi Crosslane's top opens up - and the trunk can be rolled back to expand the concept from a 2-seater to a 2+2.

There’s a blend of aluminum, carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, or CFRP, and fiberglass polymer in the Crosslane’s spaceframe and angular, almost retro body.  That’s meant to address several challenges makers today face: maximizing crashworthiness while reducing weight in order to improve fuel efficiency. The entire vehicle, it turns out, weighs just 3,064, or less than a typical American compact sedan.

Depending upon how the movable trunk is configured, the Audi Crosslane can function as a 2-seat coupe or a 2+2.  Ultra-thin seats provide better-than-expected rear legroom while also maximizing support for the driver and front passenger.

Audi has paired a 1.5-liter inline-three-cylinder engine with two electric motors.  Together, they produce 176 horsepower – enough to launch the lightweight Concept to 100 mph (or 62.5 mph) in about 8.6 seconds, with the German maker claiming a 113 mph top speed.

A surprisingly large lithium-ion battery – at 17.4 kilowatt-hours, provides an expansive 53 miles in electric mode, almost 50% more than the current rating for the Chevrolet Volt.

The Crosslane can only operate on battery power alone up to 34 mph, however, before firing up its IC engine and going into hybrid mode.  Above 80 mph the 1.5-liter I-3 takes over completely. A motorist can choose  between “cruise” or “race” modes to shift emphasis between electric and internal combustion power.

The interior of the Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept features a mix of advanced and traditional materials, including semi-aniline leather and velvet suede, as well as machine-polished aluminum air nozzles and glass fiber-reinforced flooring.

As one might expect, these days, there are large digital displays to monitor both vehicle functions and access various digital features, including Twitter and Facebook. But among the more intriguing of these is something Audi has dubbed “Escape Manager.” Think of it as Rand McNally meets Facebook, allowing passengers to share and comment on the routes they drive.

No production plans appear in store for the Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept – but the maker is clearly looking for ways to slash weight from future products even beyond what it has achieved with the extensive use of aluminum in models like the latest A8. Audi is also ramping up plans to add more hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-cars to its line-up.

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