(Courtesy of Audi AG)
Before Audi became known for its supercars and luxury cars, it was just a little automaker that made quirky German boxes that happened to have a really awesome all-wheel-drive system known as Quattro. Volkswagen scooped up Audi and saved it, then Volkswagen narrowly avoided its own financial collapse, and a couple of decades later, we have stunners like the Audi R8. Not a bad turnaround, all things considered. But it looks like Audi's itching to show its cars still have some of the old spirit, and the new technology to make it better than ever before. The Audi Nanuk Quattro was unveiled on Audi's home turf, at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September of 2013. It was a surprise reveal -- most journalists and industry insiders were not expecting an as-yet-unheard-of Audi, especially not one that looks like Audi's R8 supercar mated with an Audi rally car from the 1980s. So the Nanuk Quattro, sitting there on the showroom floor, shiny and red, hunkered down over its huge wheels, generated a lot of attention. Even though it turns out that many of the show attendees had seen the car before, albeit in a different form.
The Nanuk Quattro is a concept car, which means that its chances of actually making it to production -- that is, being built and sold -- are rather slim. To wit, the Nanuk Quattro is chock full of features that showcase Audi's ability to design a really desirable car (or in this case, partner with a company that can). Showing the car at Frankfurt got Audi a lot of attention, even if it's not a car that would be likely to sell in huge numbers. It's an Audi coupe/SUV that's been dubbed a crossover for a lack of a better way to explain it -- even though it would trounce all other vehicles we call crossovers. It'll get your blood churning, and if it ever does make it to the Audi dealership lots, it'll probably be marked at eye-popping Lamborghini prices. So why bother to build and show the Nanuk Quattro at all? It drew a huge crowd to Audi's show floor, but that alone doesn't justify the investment. Most concept cars have interesting stories, and the Nanuk Quattro is no exception.