Swoopy SUV slots beneath forthcoming Q5; here in 2010
30 July 2007

Audi is cracking on with plans to launch a small SUV model that will fit into the range below the forthcoming Q5 - and we've driven it. Smaller than a Land Rover Freelander or Toyota RAV4, the new car was previewed by the Cross Coupe concept at the 2007 Shanghai motor show. Audi’s designers are still unsure if the sloping car-like rear roofline can be made to work on an SUV. The slant is designed to make the car look less like an SUV than if it had a traditional, squarer rear end, there are concerns over the way it compromises boot space and rear headroom. However, Audi is aiming the Cross Coupe at buyers of sports coupes as well as traditional SUVs. The designers say it has more room than a coupe. Inside, it is more car-like than a true SUV; it feels compact and you’re not perched too high. It’s not vast inside, and although that sloping rear roofline doesn’t compromise headroom too badly, it does restrict the height of the boot. Rear legroom is excellent, though.The shapes and forms of the dashboard, such as the panels on the dash front, are likely to appear in future Audi models, as will the Cross Coupe's exterior details — especially the headlights and crease lines down the side. The four frameless doors are the subject of internal debate at Audi. They are expensive to produce but give the car more of a coupe-like feel. Based on an A3, rather than VW’s larger Tiguan 4x4, the Cross Coupe is fitted with one of Audi’s new Bluetec diesels. The 200bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit will replace the current TDI engines next year and will meet the US’s ultra-tough emissions standards. The first of the new engines will be a 240bhp 3.0-litre V6 for the A4 and Q7.But the new 4x4 will not be called Q3. Audi was sued by Nissan two years ago over the use of the Q prefix, which Nissan uses on its US-market Infiniti models, so Audi is now restricted to Q5 and Q7. The Cross Coupe name is a possibility. The coupe SUV will become the fourth all-new model from Audi in the next three years. It will be launched in 2010, after the Q5 next year and the A1 in 2009.

Dan Stevens

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