How the Audi Nanuk Quattro Works

The Space Frame and Beyond
The Audi Nanuk Quattro's interior is an attempt at minimalism -- it's simultaneously rugged and sophisticated.
The Audi Nanuk Quattro's interior is an attempt at minimalism -- it's simultaneously rugged and sophisticated.
(Courtesy of Audi AG)

The Audi Nanuk Quattro is an all-wheel-drive turbo-diesel supercar, but it's not just a street-legal race car like most cars that get the "supercar" designation. The Nanuk is, in theory, a crossover (yep, a crossover supercar) so its off-road and athletic abilities are amplified ... to the extent that Audi claims the Nanuk Quattro can handle any terrain. It's hard to picture this gleaming Audi coupe actually straying off the pavement -- even though Audi's earned its street cred when it comes to rally racing, the Nanuk Quattro is shiny, new, and so far, one of a kind. Audi's proprietary Quattro all-wheel-drive system has been modified a bit for the Nanuk. In case the Nanuk Quattro ever makes it off-road, it'll be helped along by integral steering, a system in which the front and rear wheels can turn up to nine degrees in different directions to help the car maneuver at low speeds. At high speeds, the wheels turn to improve stability.

The car also features an updated version of Audi's adjustable air ride suspension that can raise the car 1.6 inches (4.06 centimeters) or lower it 1.2 inches (3.05 centimeters). The driver can adjust the car's height whenever the urge appears, but the Nanuk Quattro also monitors its road clearance and will make adjustments as the terrain requires it. It can make adjustments on-the-fly by measuring the distance from the frame to the road, and it can also use the navigation system to predict clearance needs based on the planned route. The Nanuk Quattro wears beefy 22-inch (55.88-centimeter) wheels over carbon-ceramic brakes that can withstand very high temperatures.

The Audi's diesel drivetrain is an all-new, twin-turbo, 5-liter, V-10 setup. Though Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen, have used a lot of turbo-diesel engines in the past, the twin-turbo setup achieves the desired effect of providing extra boost and keeping fuel consumption relatively low -- a reported 30 miles per gallon (12.75 kilometers per liter). The Nanuk has 544 horsepower and is said to achieve 0 to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in just 3.8 seconds, and it has a top speed of 190 miles per hour (305.8 kilometers per hour). The engine is a longitudinal-mount setup (another Audi tradition), and the transmission is a seven-speed S tronic.

Audi's lightweight aluminum space frame is the basis for the Nanuk Quattro, and it's covered with body panels that are a blend of polymer (for efficiency) and carbon fiber (for strength). The side blades are a styling cue reminiscent of Audi's R8, and they aren't just decorative. They actually feed air to the engine to keep the twin turbos happy. Other elements recall the R8, too, such as the front storage area, the aquarium-like engine compartment accessible via the rear hatch, and the LED headlights.

The interior is an attempt at minimalism -- information is condensed on a floating instrument panel that replaces the need for traditional gauges. All the necessary controls are found either in the center console or on the steering wheel. The cabin, gray leather, carbon fiber and cool aluminum, is simultaneously rugged and sophisticated. The A-pillars display the rear view from the digital cameras, which is also shown in a center display that replaces the physical rear view mirror.

Even though the Nanuk Quattro is new to Audi, the car has been seen before. It's still new, really, but it looked a little different and wore different badges. Italdesign Giugiaro designed the car, based largely on the Guigiaro Parcour concept car that was shown early in 2013. This is how most of the Nanuk Quattro's interesting backstory comes into play.

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