• Mar 13th 2009 at 2:01PM
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Audi Sportback Concept - Click above for a high-res gallery

Car and Driver sat down with Audi's global head of product engineering, Michael Dick, to discuss the future of the automaker's offerings and how it plans to tackle the ongoing issue of weight. While all automakers cite consumer demand and government regulation as one of the major reasons overall vehicle weight has skyrocketed in the last 20 years, Audi is actively pursuing its "smaller-is-better credo." To that end, the automaker currently has a next-generation A5 prototype running around that's 880 pounds lighter than the current car. Dick told C&D that the mule is using an increased amount of aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel to reduce mass, and says while the current TT is 69% aluminum, the next A6 (due in 2011 or 2012) will have even more, and the next A4/A5/S4/S5 will feature more still when they arrive in 2014.

Dick went on to say that the down-sizing of the current S4 and S5's engine from a V8 to a supercharged V6 is the first step, and its possible that the next generation Ss will be 20% lighter, pack 30% less displacement and will likely come with turbocharged four-cylinder engines (think TT, TT S and TT RS mills).

On the topic of styling, expect the next generation of Audis to take cues from the Sportback concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show. The Audi A7 will arrive in production form later this year, and while the overall shape won't disseminate throughout the Audi line-up, the headlamps, tail-lights and refined single-frame grille will carry over to the rest of the range. Dick claims that the A7 is already eight seconds faster than the current S5 around the Nurburgring, thanks primarily to its curb weight, which is expected to come in at around 3,000 pounds. We won't believe that until we see it on an official spec sheet, but it's comforting to know that at least one luxury automaker gets "it" and there's no doubt it will pay dividends in the marketplace if all these initiatives come to fruition.

[Source: Car and Driver]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll happily take a 3000 lb car with something like Audi's 2.0 turbo four with 270 hp over a 3900lb V8 with 340hp. I think the technology is allowing manufacturers to build smoother fours with torque rivaling the V8s with 25-30% more fuel efficiency. It looks in all likelyhood that gas prices will be back up into the $3-4 per gallon in the coming years. It also looks like Americans (at least the younger generation) is now embracing European style hot hatches.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm a big fan of light weight, and 880lbs is no joke... but at what cost? More than 70% aluminum, along with magnesium and high strength steel... that doesn't come cheap. Are we looking at the next A5 to start at $50k?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now that Audi is controlled by Porsche, the most profitable car manufacturer in the world, I'm assuming some of the Porsche know-how of reducing manufacturing costs and maximising profits will trickle down to Audi.

      The next A4/S4 may well use a new, lighter Quattro system, lighter interior (especially seats) etc, and as mentioned in the article, lots of extra high strength steel and aluminium etc in the chassis and body panels, the body panels may even end up being a light weight plastic or hemp compound - I'm sure the actual engines used will be all new too, and I presume they will be notably lighter.

      While an 880lbs weight saving would be a huge engineering marvel, I am doubtful they will achieve this goal - but time will tell.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Sheer genius.

      Weight reduction should be one of the top two or three engineering goals for every transportation builder.

      The future is lighter cars, electrically driven with massive torque from the get-go, and totally adjustable sensations-- ride, steering, acceleration curves, as well as sound. If big V8s get you off, that's what your call will feel like. And when you pick your mom up from the airport, it can be silent like a Lexus.

      The golden age of the automobile is coming.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As great and as efficient modern 4 and 6 cylinder engines are, there is truly nothing like the rumble and feel and smoothness of a V8. The world has to progress and smaller and more powerful engines are the future of performance, but the days of the old V8 will be missed and cherished forever.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Dick went on to say that the down-sizing"


      Ok seriously though, sounds great Audi!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Autoblog: "Dick claims that the A7 is already eight seconds faster than the current S5 around the Nurburgring, thanks primarily to its curb weight, which is expected to come in at around 3,000 pounds. We won't believe that until we see it on an official spec sheet..."

      Though the Car and Driver article isn't 100% clear, the entire thing is about the next generation A5, not the A7. Their claim is that the 2014 *A5* will weigh ~3000 lbs. and shave 8 seconds off the current A5's Nurburgring time--not that the A7 will. I'll be surprised if the A7 weighs in under 4000 lbs.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Let me revise my original comment, as they were referring to the S5 variant of the A5. In fact, most of the article was in regards to the top S5 spec model. The only reason the A7 was even mentioned, was to state that it will be a production model soon, and its styling will influence other future Audi's such as the S5. Anyway, it should be:

        Their claim is that the 2014 *S5* will weigh ~3000 lbs. and shave 8 seconds off the current S5's Nurburgring time--not that the A7 will.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually the second part of the C&D article is about the A7.
        • 6 Years Ago
        After reading it again, it appears you are correct.

        The next A5 will look like the A7, but the A5 is still the one going on the crash diet.

        Though I'm still not clear which one is currently lapping the Nurburgring.
      • 6 Years Ago
      admit it! Audi has surpassed BMW in the last year..since the RS4 and R8. You're going to have to live with it.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Thank God someone in the German luxury car world is getting the message. Hopefully this will translate into their main line sedans as well. I have a 3.0 300 2008 and a 3.0 250 2003 A6, the handling and weight differences are massive. Both fun cars, but totally different vehicles, and the younger is not nearly as fun to drive or chuckable. Smaller is better!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh my God, is it true? An automaker that's committed to ridiculous weight reductions instead of increasing weight and backing it up with BS about safety and that's committed to building concepts like the A7 (SportBack) and bringing styling elements unadulterated to future cars? Next car: Audi A4 baby!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Anyone seeing the Lambo Estoque concept at the back? Obviously toned down but it looks like there's some design influence trickling down from Lambo as well as the tech.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is really so great to hear! At least one big manufacturer took this issue seriously and globally. Way to go VW and Audi!
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