The Crosslane previews Audi’s Q2 crossover, likely to be the first of three sportier crossovers the Ingolstadt brand will introduce, a Q4 and Q6 following. The even-numbered Q models will be sportier than their odd-numbered siblings, and this Q2 preview, which slots beneath the Q3 in size, could be offered in the three-door form seen here as well as a five door to underline its more sporting intent. The production version is expected to arrive in 2015, and will provide a rival to BMW’s Mini Countryman and Paceman duo.
Besides signalling a more dynamic Q range offering, the Crosslane also hints at a possible next step for Audi’s aluminium body technology, its spaceframe chassis reinforced with carbonfibre in areas requiring greater strength, a mixed materials combination that improves weight efficiency. The technology is partly derived from Audi’s Le Mans racing programme, explains Briton Steve Lewis, who now heads up Audi’s advanced design department. The production Q2 is unlikely to use aluminium body technology for cost reasons, but the technology could appear on low volume models in around five years says designer Ramon Sellers Sirvent.
The spaceframe is part-exposed on the Crosslane, appearing around the windscreen, in the sill area and as a central spar dividing the cockpit. It also forms part a more sculptural Audi grille on this concept, a look that together with a bolder looking headlights, will signal the look of the sportier Q models. It’s also the start of a mission to make it easier to distinguish one Audi from another, says Lewis.
Inspiration for the Cross Lane partly came from the much-admired Steppenwolf produced as an A3 preview some years ago, this dramatically styled concept predating Land Rover’s three-door Evoque concept by several years. ‘I want the Land Rover guys to come and see this,’ says Lewis, although you get the impression that Audi wishes it had beaten the British firm to the jump with a three-door SUV. The TT and original Quattro were also influences.
Inside, the Crosslane continues Audi’s new theme of reducing the bulk of the car’s dashboard, and effect heightened by the surprising absence of an infotainment screen, whose information appears in the main instrument cluster, says interior designer Ulrich Beierlein, which can be reconfigured using buttons on the steering wheel. This is an approach that will be taken with sportier Q models, he says, while the less sporty Qs will retain the central display screen. The angling of the controls towards the driver, and the relatively spare and dynamic sculpting of the dash, centre console and door trims is also intended to heighten the sporty ambience, as is an appealingly chunky gearlever.
The Crosslane is propelled by a drivetrain that on the face if it doesn’t sound so sporting, but its three-cylinder 1.5 litre and electric motor provide 116bhp and 130bhp respectively, and in combination with the concept’s low weight provide suitably rapid performance, as well as an electric-only range of 80 miles. The 1.5 litre does not provide direct drive, acting only to charge the battery and boost the electric motor’s efforts.