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2009 Detroit Show: Audi Sportback Concept

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Audi Sportback concept

Audi Sportback concept

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Is it a sedan that masquerades as a coupe, or a coupe that happens to have a couple of extra doors? The idea—of a sedan fitted with a curvy roofline and swoopier, more aggressive styling, and inserting the word 'coupe'—is no longer a fresh concept, but we have to declare that Audi’s Sportback concept is one of the freshest, best-looking fastback sedans we’ve seen.

The Sportback, which is heavily rumored to preview an upcoming, highly anticipated model called the A7, is based on the new-generation A6, according to some sources, and has about the same length (194.5 inches) and curb weight (3,960) pounds as the A6 sedan.

The new concept shows the direction of design in the premium segment, according to Audi. The front of the Sportback is attractive but not surprising, following Audi’s current design direction with a large upright grille and distinctive, winged LED headlamps. From any other direction, the Sportback looks different than any of Audi’s existing products—especially at the back, where the arcing roofline settles ever-so-gently into the bulging fenders and tail. The chracter/shoulder line along the side has been accented a bit more than in other recent models.

Inside, the instrument panel is also quite different than what’s in current Audi models, with a horizontal shelf style to the instrument panel. It’s covered in supple, light-colored leather, with oak blockboard trim that’s oriented horizontally. Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) is featured at the center and trimmed with piano lacquer and brushed aluminum. A spectacular panoramic roof tops it all off.

Under the hood of the Sportback concept is the 3.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel V-6, which has been emissions-approved for the U.S. market and will be offered beginning this spring on the Q7 3.0 TDI. The TDI engine makes 225 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a seven-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive.

The Sportback has especially slick aerodynamics, for a top speed of 152 mph. The dash to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes less than seven seconds—figures that are very competitive with those of Mercedes-Benz’s E320 Bluetec sedan.

In all, it’s going to be a crowded field of four-door coupes, or sportbacks, or fastback sedans. We have the Mercedes CLS and the upcoming Porsche Panamera—both of which will be taking on the A7—plus Volkswagen’s Passat CC, and a curvy BMW cou’dan rumored to be under development. Then there’s Volvo’s S60 Concept, also shown today, and its very coupelike lines.

The A7...ahem, Sportback...isn’t the only one slated to offer this shape. Audi confirmed that there is also an A5 Sportback on the way.

Audi Sportback concept

Audi Sportback concept

Enlarge Photo

Audi Sportback concept

Audi Sportback concept

Enlarge Photo

Audi Sportback concept

Audi Sportback concept

Enlarge Photo

2006 Audi A3 Sportback

2006 Audi A3 Sportback

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