Debut in Detroit: Audi is taking the wraps off a study car by the name of Roadjet Concept at the North American International Automobile Show. A vehicle that blends the latest evolutionary stage of Audi's formal idiom with an entirely new space concept. The drive technology, too, represents a new departure: on the 300 bhp 3.2 FSI engine, innovative concepts produce an unprecedented synthesis of performance, liveliness and efficiency. In conjunction with a longitudinally installed engine, the Audi Roadjet is moreover the first model to feature the sporty 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox. The study car furthermore serves as a technology demonstrator of innovative electronic systems that will be finding their way into production models in the next few years.
The styling of this four-door fastback saloon is a new, distinctive interpretation of Audi design. Characteristic features include the dynamic wedge-shaped nose with the typical single-frame grille and the two large air inlets beneath the bumpers. The high shoulders that lend the vehicle an air of power and safety are also typically Audi. The Audi Roadjet Concept moreover has a large window area, reinforcing the impression of light and spaciousness inside the vehicle.
The dynamic line above the sill, as well as the shoulder line, defines clearly horizontal overall proportions that are emphatically road-centred. An effect that is echoed by the rear-end view: wide wheel arches, the trapezoidal tailgate and the diffuser below the bumper emphasise the sporty character of the Audi Roadjet Concept.
Measuring 4.70 m in length and 1.85 m in width, the Audi Roadjet Concept respects the standard dimensions of a B-segment vehicle. Yet its height of 1.55 m and the wheelbase of 2.85 m result in substantially more effective space for the occupants; both the higher seat position with ample legroom and the ample shoulder room and headroom at all four individual seats represent a new class best.
An evolutionary version of the current 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine with FSI petrol direct injection serves as an appropriate source of propulsion for the Audi Roadjet Concept. Thanks to a fixed intake manifold and the innovative Audi valvelift system for valve control, the engine develops 300 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 330 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm. This power unit is impressive not merely in terms of absolute performance, but also thanks to its pulling power and bite, coupled with a linear increase in power all the way up to the rated speed.
The Audi Roadjet Concept is the first model to feature the sporty Direct Shift Gearbox in conjunction with a longitudinally installed engine and quattro permanent four-wheel drive. Closely related to the DSG used to such dazzling effect in the A3 and TT, it combines the advantages of a manual gearbox with the qualities of a modern automatic transmission, resulting in a drive concept that is superior in every respect.
The dynamic suspension layout with four-link front suspension and self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension delivers the accustomed standard of driveability and ride comfort. Variable shock absorbers and the new Audi dynamic steering rack-and-pinion steering concept with variable ratio are used for the first time.
One particular innovation that enhances driving fun is Audi drive select: this system enables the driver to preselect several entirely independent vehicle characteristics at the push of a button. Three modes – "comfort", "dynamic" and "sport" – alter the steering, damping and transmission response, as well as the engine characteristic. Audi drive select thus provides access to highly distinct driving experiences that can be realised by a single vehicle, entirely as the driver sees fit.
Safety in particular, but also economy and comfort, benefit from the new system of car-to-car communication that Audi is unveiling in the Roadjet Concept. This cross-manufacturer form of information electronics is based on data exchanges between vehicles moving in traffic and the ambient infrastructure, via the WLAN network.
This technology opens up new horizons: it enables data on the traffic flow to be processed, promoting a prudent driving style that avoids congestion or even helps to prevent accidents. And linking up with stationary networks will already become a reality in a few years' time, for example enabling drivers not only to identify where there is a free parking space before they reach their destination, but also to reserve it.
The equipment and data stated here refer to the model range offered for sale in Germany. We reserve the right to make changes. Errors and omissions excepted.