Audi has been reigning fire at the Frankfurt motor show. With an army of debuts ranging from the A1 Citycarver, the Q3 Sportback, the highly anticipated RS6 Avant, the RS7 Sportback to a short on-stage teaser appearance by the E-tron Sportback during their press conference at the show.
It was quite obvious that though the German giant had not planned to launch the all electric SUV, they did plan on creating a stir of anticipation, and so to keep the vital design elements invisible they kept the car’s lights off, only to give the crowd and media a glimpse of its silhouette and some basic lines. The introduction to the sportback SUV has been an elaborately planned sequence with a prototype having been teased at the Geneva Motor show in March this year and the brief tease at Frankfurt, they are set to launch the car in November at the Los Angeles motor show.
From what could be seen, the sportback would retain most of the visual cues from the standard E-tron, but with a prominently declining roofline. Headroom may be a concern for the rear passengers along with cargo capacity and the car will be priced well above the regular model.
The Audi AI Trail concept
The newest addition to their concept line up is straight out of the Jurassic world theme with the option of Autonomous driving, and is called the Audi AI:Trail Quattro. The trail is essentially a glass pod with all round visibility as the primary design motive, mounted on humungous twenty two inch wheels and knobbly off road tyres. Hovering above the wheels are flat extruded fenders like those of a Jeep, which beautifully add to the appeal making the Trail look like an off-roader from the future.
At thirteen and a half inches high, the ground clearance beats Jeeps and LandRovers hands down and would also allow the Trail to drive through waist deep water. The tires skim the wheel-well edges and appear to be sticking out and exposed since the front and rear bumpers donot wrap around them, allowing for better approach and departure angles. Inspired from the Michelin tweel, the tires offer automatically adjustable pneumatic pressure which provides for variable traction on different kinds of terrain. Physically, the AI Trail makes for a very competent buggy and all this comes with a powertrain from the future.
Power and Dynamics
The quattro part in any Audi’s name signifies the all wheel drive feature and being a buggy of the unfriendly terrain, the AI Trail comes with four electric motors each dedicated to a wheel. This works to ensure that power is distributed evenly across all fours and harnessed as per requirement of the traction on each particular wheel – varying with the effort and load put on them with the changing terrain. The motors together combine to produce four hundred and twenty nine horsepower and seven hundred and thirty eight pound feet of torque – a hearty number for a long range electric all terrain vehicle that weighs 3858 pounds – allowing it to sprint to its 81 mile per hour top speed in a matter of seconds. The long range allowance accomodates between 250 and 300 miles on paved roads and mild trails, and about 155 miles on rough and hilly terrain.
Interior and Exterior
All the glass area makes for a very airy looking interior as well as providing for all round visibility and hardly any blind spots – a great aid for off roading. The glass extends all the way down the front where conventional cars – jeeps even – are generally fitted with a grille. The dashboard is minimal and requires a smartphone connection to provide for the instrument cluster feature. Seating is also quite beautifully laid out, with big and comfortable seats in the front, and removable hammock styled seats in the rear. The front of the car opens up like a hatch, as does the rear along with storage space in both the front and rear, to provide for the perfect camping/trailblazing adventure feel that the entire vehicle is all about.
The otherwise sober interior comes with flashlights, cameras and tripod legs for an amazing adventure-photography experience. The exterior, instead of headlights, has actual flying drones, five in number, and with lighting so that they illuminate the path ahead and all around the buggy, while flying ahead of it. The drones dock on the roof rack where they also plug in to charge. The car features a level four autonomous driving program which allows the driver to hand over the controls in their entirety, to the car. The autonomous mode however won’t be very effective or completely dispensable while off roading.
It is obvious that the AI Trail cannot be expected to hit production for quite a while, but Hollywood can surely feature the beautiful concept in one of their many science fiction fantasy franchises. Though Audi may not have anything even remotely close to the Trail in their portfolio, it is a really insightful concept into the future of off roaders.