|January 8, 2006
Audi Roadjet Concept
Debut in Detroit: Audi is taking the wraps off a study car by the name of Roadjet Concept at the North American International Automobile Show. A vehicle that blends the latest evolutionary stage of Audi's formal idiom with an entirely new space concept. The drive technology, too, represents a new departure: on the 300 bhp 3.2 FSI engine, innovative concepts produce an unprecedented synthesis of performance, liveliness and efficiency. In conjunction with a longitudinally installed engine, the Audi Roadjet Concept is moreover the first model to feature the sporty 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox.
The study car furthermore serves as a technology demonstrator of innovative electronic systems that will be finding their way into production models in the next few years.
The introduction of a new cross-manufacturer standard for car-to-car communication opens up a new dimension in safety and service. Important parameters such as safety, the traffic flow and therefore obviously also fuel economy and emissions can be influenced positively by information exchanged directly between vehicles in moving traffic. A car-to-car communication standard furthermore opens up countless new possibilities in the domains of service and comfort.
One particular innovation that enhances driving fun is Audi drive select: this system enables the driver to preselect several entirely independent vehicle characteristics at the push of a button. Three modes - "comfort", "dynamic" and "sport" - alter the steering, damping and transmission response, as well as the engine map. Audi drive select thus provides access to highly distinct driving experiences that can be realised by a single vehicle, entirely as the driver sees fit.
The styling of this four-door fastback saloon is a new, distinctive interpretation of Audi design. Measuring 4.70 m in length and 1.85 m in width, the Audi Roadjet Concept respects the standard dimensions of a B-segment vehicle. However, its height of 1.55 m and the wheelbase of 2.85 m result in substantially greater spaciousness, and also give this car fundamentally new basic proportions.
The decidedly short overhangs at the front and rear give the Roadjet Concept an utterly new flavour of sporting flair.
The characteristic features of the front end are the dynamic tapered shape with the characteristic Audi integral single-frame grille and the large air inlets below the bumpers. Vertical slats in the single-frame grille support the prominently three-dimensional Audi badge. Concave surfaces around the highly sculpted wheel arches lend the nose extra width. Beneath the clear-glass covers of both the headlights and the rear lights, LED light units create an unmistakeable visual impact both in daylight and after dark.
The high shoulders that lend the vehicle an air of power and safety are also typically Audi. The Audi Roadjet Concept moreover has a large window area, reinforcing the impression of light and spaciousness inside the vehicle.
Slim roof posts and the raked rear window combine with the coupé-like roof line in producing a highly dynamic silhouette. A roof spoiler above the large rear window helps to maintain good surface contact, while visually extending the arc of the roof even further to the rear.
The dynamic line above the sill, as well as the shoulder line, defines clearly horizontal overall proportions that are emphatically road-centred. A new element to Audi is the arched capping line, extending between the front and rear wheel arches.
Together with the shoulder line, it produces an invigorating interplay of convex and concave surfaces.
The handles are integrated flush into the door surfaces; they are extended when touched, to allow convenient opening of the doors.
The impression created by the rear end, too, is decidedly dynamic: wide wheel arches, the trapezoidal tailgate and the diffuser below the bumper emphasise the sporty character of the Audi Roadjet Concept. The stepped rear lights extending well round into the sides echo this car's closest relations in design terms within Audi's current production range: the Avant models and the Sportback. The tailgate beneath the windows likewise extends well round into the sides, thus acting as a visual bridge between the rear and sides. The exhaust system's wide twin tailpipes, integrated into the striking diffuser, are another new element.
Modernity and functionality, dynamic elegance and open perspectives: this is the most immediate impression of the Audi Roadjet Concept's interior. Warm, subdued earth colours contrasting with the light grey of precision metal applications create an atmosphere pitched somewhere between elegant functionality and emotional appeal. This impression is enhanced by the combining of purely functional materials such as Neoprene, at floor level, with exclusive leather.
This vehicle interprets the architecture of the Audi interior in a novel way. The characteristic features include the stimulating interplay of proportions and dynamism. The instrument panel envelops the driver's and front passenger's seats in a wide, horizontally split arc. The controls and displays in the dash panel and on the centre console come across on the one hand as organically integrated and on the other as neatly structured and functional.
The four individual seat pans, almost filigree in appearance and featuring integral head restraints, divide up the interior into four separate zones. Between the rear seats there is a system of rails that can accommodate options that include a storage box with centre armrest, an espresso machine or a baby carrier facing to the rear.
The rear seats themselves can be adjusted along diagonal rails; when opened out into their frontmost position, a centre child's seat can be installed obliquely behind the rear seats if required. This centre child's seat is guided on rails on the movable luggage compartment floor. It can be folded over and easily removed to the rear.
The load area can be further enlarged by folding the rear seat backs forward. The electrically operated movable load area floor pivots automatically to the rear, beyond the bumper, appreciably facilitating loading of the vehicle. The rail system integrated into the load area floor incorporates lashing points that can be used to secure the child seat or lash down items being carried, before the load area floor is moved forward again electrically, back into the vehicle.
The convenience function on the remote control enables the driver to extend the load area floor at the same time as the tailgate is opened.
The load area floor can be set to two positions inside the vehicle. Its lower position produces the maximum load area capacity; its normal level results in a level load area.
Both the comfortable, relatively upright seat position with ample legroom and the ample shoulder room and headroom at all four individual seats set new standards.
But superlative comfort in the Audi Roadjet Concept is not merely the result of the generous amount of space available. The deluxe automatic air conditioning with a newly developed air vent principle provides draught-free, individually variable climate control for every occupant.
A Bang & Olufsen sound system purpose-developed for the Roadjet Concept provides an audio quality worthy of the concert hall. As on the A8, 14 speakers - including the extendable tweeters on the instrument panel - and an amplifier output of more than 1,000 watts produce an acoustic experience that is without equal in the automotive world. If desired, the front and rear passengers can also listen to music via Bluetooth headphones.
The audio system also supports a new function that allows the occupants to converse without needing to raise their voices even when the car is travelling at high speeds. A technology by the name of Digital Voice Support (DVS) picks up the occupants' voices via microphones and reproduces them via the amplifier and speakers. Reproduction is controlled to take account of both the relative position inside the car of the person speaking and the general level of noise being generated by the vehicle.
The Multi Media Interface MMI has been reconfigured in the Audi Roadjet Concept. In addition to the central 10-inch display in the instrument cluster, there are separate displays and operating units for the front and rear passengers - including a 7-inch display on the backs of the front seats for the rear passengers. An entirely new technology makes its debut here: the front passenger views information on a back-projection display on the instrument panel, which also allows them to watch TV while the car is moving. To avoid distracting the driver, this display is screened off by a shield that extends automatically out of the instrument panel.
The range of functions is moreover tailored to individual requirements. Functions that classify directly as vehicle operation - such as the car setup menu - can be operated exclusively by the driver. On the other hand, the passengers can control both the infotainment system and the navigation, so that they can assist the driver with route suggestions, for instance.
The Roadjet Concept does not have traditional sun visors; instead, this function is performed by the use of Vari-Light technology along the upper edge of the windscreen: the degree of transparency of the glass - and therefore of light screening - can be varied electrically, thus enabling the driver to prevent any undesirable glare.
There is a further convenience feature in the rear centre armrest. On the Detroit showcar, it incorporates an espresso machine complete with water reservoir, stable cup holders for four cups and accessories. The occupants can now always enjoy a fresh cup of coffee whenever they wish, for instance during a break or while sitting in a tailback - an enticing alternative to lukewarm beverages out of a flask, and one that is bound to appeal not just to coffee connoisseurs.