Gran Turismo – the term is synonymous with the ultimate high-performance, road-going long-distance sports car. Time and time again, GTs were among the most fascinating and most beautiful cars of their day. Like no other type of vehicle, a classic GT combines the aura of performance and speed with styling that derives its aesthetic appeal from technology and dynamism rendered visible to the onlooker.
Without a doubt, the Audi Nuvolari quattro, which has a Luna Silver paint finish, is such a car – this becomes clear the very first time you see it. The coupé silhouette of this 2 + 2-seater is dominated by the long engine hood and the roofline dropping smoothly towards the wide rear end. The windows are extremely shallow, emphasising the proportions of the 4.80-metre long, 1.92-metre wide and 1.41-metre high Nuvolari quattro.
The gently curved coupé roof is supported by slim A and C pillars that blend smoothly into the rising shoulders of the body.
Significant features when seen from the side are the heavily contoured, dynamic line in the sill area and the bold, slightly rising shoulder line. The latter starts at the front wheel arch and continues its curve in a wide arch that gradually flattens out. It rises discreetly towards the C pillar and descends just as smoothly behind it, thus creating a light line on the extremely curved side surfaces.
The front and rear overhangs are very short, which, together with the large 9-arm wheels in the circular wheel arches, emphasises the potent, compact body. This effect is added to by the high tail end with its remarkable stylistic uniformity; the two big, oval exhaust tailpipes provide a visual clue to the power this car’s engine can provide.
In addition to this formal innovation, the evolutionary integration of current lines and shapes is waiting to be discovered: The geometry of the boot lid and the transition between the bumper and upper rear end are variations on characteristic elements of the latest generation of Audi models.
The lights, which are well wrapped round at the sides of the car, connect the side panels and the rear end and supply a new, distinct visual emphasis.
New lines and a striking new face
Walter de'Silva, Head of Design for the Audi brand group, comments: “The Nuvolari quattro outlines the direction that Audi’s exterior and interior design will take. We are aware of our brand’s heritage and will continue this success story in evolutionary steps.”
The synthesis of evolution and innovation is also characteristic of the Audi Nuvolari quattro’s front end: the rounded shape of the front side panels toward the bumper is a deliberate reference to the lines of the Audi TT – which is, after all, one of the most successful examples of Audi’s current styling.
The striking single-frame radiator grille has also evolved from the current design motif and has been arrived at by linking together the two double grille segments of the current Audi generation.
Another new feature are the slightly inclined, low-height main headlight strips on the Nuvolari quattro. They make use of an entirely new technology – super-bright high-performance light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This is where, once again, Audi’s typical groundbreaking design principles and its proverbial “Vorsprung durch Technik” combine.
Revolutionary: The LED headlights
LED headlights allow the designer more freedom, since they need less installation space than conventional ones. The cooled high-end lights, 18 on each side, are located much nearer the surface of the cover, which has also been reduced in size, so that the entire front end or the car is more harmonious in its styling.
LED – these three letters not only signify progress for the designers but also offer solid advantages such as longer life and energy consumption ten times lower than that of conventional bulbs.
As if this were not enough, LED technology offers further future potential. In a future development stage, LED headlights will make dynamic cornering beams possible without the need for movable parts in the system. The width and direction of the beam can be specifically adjusted by activating more light elements electronically.
More light on a dark night: adaptive LED rear lights with infrared sensors
LEDs are also used for the rear lights, brake lights and flashing turn indicators. The infrared sensors for the rear lights are revolutionary. They identify dirt on the covers and external factors such as spray or fog. The electronic control system increases the brightness steplessly in response to sensor impulses if required by outside conditions. This is an important step towards better visibility and, ultimately, a safer journey in all weather conditions.
The braking lights and flashers benefit additionally from the LED’s shorter response time. Whereas it takes conventional bulbs around 200 milliseconds to reach their full brightness, LEDs need less than one millisecond.
At the rear of the car too, LEDs provide the designers with additional styling options, since they require less space.
The combination of systematic lightweight design and a highly rigid body is doubly important in high-powered GTs such as the Audi Nuvolari quattro – for the car’s performance and also for resistance to vibration, which is a vital precondition for dynamic, comfortable driving.
The decision on how to build the body-in-white was therefore easy: the latest-generation Audi Space Frame proved to be the best concept currently available in both the weight-saving design and rigidity departments.
Like the current A8’s frame architecture, the Nuvolari quattro’s Audi Space Frame (ASF) consists of a combination of extruded aluminium profiles and cast parts connected tightly together, for a combination of minimum mass and maximum strength.
The proportions of the GT concept study necessitated considerable structural changes compared with the ASF used in the A8 luxury sedan. The best example is the wheelbase of the 2 + 2-seater Nuvolari quattro, which is more than six centimetres shorter. The front end with its characteristically dominant engine hood is longer, the rear end on the other hand looks more compact. The proportions are additionally emphasised by the short front and rear overhangs.
As is typical for a coupé, the doors have frameless windows. All four side windows can be lowered completely. A new opening technology is used: as soon as the keyless-entry transmitter in the key has unlocked the door by means of a signal, a recess opens inwards below the handles, which are normally flush with the body. The handle space is illuminated by an LED.