Audi's concept previews TT design, SUV plans

The subcompact SUV is powered by a plug-in hybrid, awd powertrain that gets 123 miles per gallon as well as 408 hp.

DETROIT -- Audi AG unveiled an SUV concept today at the Detroit auto show that demonstrated three big shifts at the German luxury car brand: an embrace of plug-in hybrids, a rush toward smaller SUVs, and updates to the trendy designs that have aided Audi's recent rise.

From materials and photos that Audi released over the weekend, it seems that Audi is treating the "allroad shooting brake" concept as a showcase the best of what it has to offer, rather than as a design study for one production model.

The subcompact SUV is powered by a plug-in hybrid, awd powertrain that gets 123 miles per gallon as well as 408 hp -- a combination of size and efficiency that may prove irresistible for a future sports car, particularly given the success of the Tesla Model S.

"The show car combines sex appeal, highly efficient e-tron-quattro technology … and cutting-edge electronic applications," Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi's board member for technical development, said in a statement. "We are offering very concrete glimpses of the near future in this show car."

The most concrete of those glimpses is an interior that appears almost identical to that of the next-generation TT coupe. Audi revealed the TT's interior this month at the CES technology convention in Las Vegas. The car goes on sale in Europe later this year.

Other features of the allroad shooting brake -- including its revised grille, new LED headlights and taillights, and metallic fuel-filler caps -- may also preview the TT.

But the concept also symbolizes bigger, brawnier plans for Audi.

Audi is rapidly expanding its family of Q-badged SUVs, and recently said it will launch a subcompact SUV called the Q1 in 2016. At just 14 feet long, the allroad shooting brake concept may be similar in size to the eventual Q1, though its height (under 5 feet tall) and body cladding would more closely resemble an allroad version of the Audi A1, a two-door subcompact sold in Europe.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com

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