The fu­ture has made a quiet en­trance

FRANK­FURT MO­TOR SHOW/ Volkswagen and Audi fo­cused on strat­egy at Frank­furt but there were some new mod­els, write Mark Smyth and Michael Tay­lor

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

For Volkswagen and Audi, the Frank­furt show was not re­ally about glam­orous con­cepts or new model re­veals. As we re­ported last week, the show was a chance for the Volkswagen Group to spell out its strat­egy for the fu­ture as it strives to re­gain ground after Diesel­gate.

How­ever, there were a few mod­els wor­thy of at­ten­tion. A big one for us here in SA, of course, was the 2018 Polo, which will be pro­duced here and which we drove at its in­ter­na­tional launch.

In the metal it looks more grown up, but at the same time mod­els with the colour-coded dash and all the dig­i­tal screens have a youth­ful look about them. We have no doubt it will set a bench­mark in the seg­ment.

The com­pany also showed its ID Crozz con­cept, a slightly re­worked ver­sion of the model it showed at the Shang­hai show ear­lier in 2017.

The new con­cept car will be tasked with help­ing to lead VW’s Strat­egy 2025 boom in elec­tric cars. Look­ing like a cheaper, smaller ver­sion of Lam­borgh­ini’s Urus SUV, the ID Crozz is meant to be part four-door coupe and part cross­over, with can­tilevered rear doors. It re­tains the orig­i­nal con­cept’s com­plete pow­er­train, so it uses a large 83kWh lithium-ion bat­tery to de­liver a claim of more than 500km of real-world driv­ing. Largely set up to run as a rear-wheel drive, the con­cept uses an elec­tric mo­tor on each axle, with a stronger 150kW/ 310Nm elec­tric mo­tor on the rear axle and only 75kW and 140Nm on the front. That gives it a com­bined out­put of 225kW and 450Nm.

NO DRIVER

Audi also showed a cou­ple of con­cepts, but the fo­cus for the In­gol­stadt brand was more on an au­tonomous fu­ture. The strangely named Audi Ai­con (Audi In­tel­li­gence Con­cept) is a pure Level 5 au­tonomous elec­tric con­cept car with four seats, four doors and no driver.

We re­ported on its Level 3 A8 last week, but Audi wants to show it isn’t rest­ing on its lau­rels with the Ai­con geared to cover 700km to 800km on a sin­gle charge of its ca­pa­cious solid-state bat­tery pack.

It’s of­fi­cially a tech­nol­ogy and de­sign study, not headed for pro­duc­tion, but it is meant to demon­strate Audi’s ideas of how door-to-door full au­ton­omy could re­tain a brand’s sig­na­tures. It’s a qu­at­tro in more ways than one, too, with not just four­wheel drive, but four elec­tric mo­tors, one for each wheel, de­liv­er­ing 260kW of power and 550Nm of in­stant torque.

The lay­out gives the Ai­con tremen­dous flex­i­bil­ity in its power de­liv­ery — though how many peo­ple will want their driv­ing com­puter to fling them around cor­ners at 1g is any­body’s guess and not some­thing even Audi has much data on. In­stead, its pow­er­train trick­ery will max­imise the car’s abil­ity to get it­self out of trou­bled sit­u­a­tions where the grip is low or change­able.

The en­tire car is based around its cabin, rather than its bon­net or boot, but it re­tains dis­tinct haunches and in­ter­nal com­bus­tion-style power plays all over its sur­fac­ing, right down to the con­vex side win­dows and the edged D-pil­lar. At the rear it trips the light fan­tas­tic with 600 3D tri­an­gu­lar pix­els ar­ranged in its grille area, giv­ing it the abil­ity to put on a show with an­i­ma­tions, graphics or even in­for­ma­tion for pedes­tri­ans and other peo­ple out­side the car.

EYE CON­TACT

The car is even de­signed to make “eye con­tact” with pedes­tri­ans and fol­low them as they walk past the car. When it’s time to get out of the car it sends up a small drone with a flash­light to guide the way at night.

Back to cars of to­day and the com­pany re­leased a more purist form of the R8 in the form of the Rear Wheel Series (RWS). Only 999 will be built in coupe and drop-top ver­sions and drop­ping qu­at­tro means a sav­ing of 40kg which helps the model sprint to 100km/h in 3.7 sec­onds.

Fi­nally, Audi re­vealed its iconic RS4. Cur­rently it will only be avail­able as an Avant wagon. The RS4 Avant returns with the same 2.9l twin-turbo TFSI mo­tor Audi first showed in the RS5 coupe, pro­duc­ing 331kW and 600Nm of torque, fill­ing out the big­gest weak­ness of the old RS4’s 4.2 V8, which only man­aged 430Nm. Claim­ing a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.1 sec­onds, Audi Sport in­sists it will run out to 280km/h when it has the RS Dy­namic Pack­age fit­ted to give it high-speed tyres.

Audi showed its plans for Level 5 au­tonomous driv­ing with the Ai­con con­cept, above. Left: The RS4 is back, but cur­rently only as an Avant wagon.

Volkswagen brought out its Shang­hai ID Crozz con­cept with a new face.

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