Ignore the soft-top hood; although it may seem so at first, the car you’re looking at is not a ruggedised Audi A3 cabrio. It is, in fact, a concept version of Audi’s forthcoming Q5 4x4, which will give the company a rival to the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3. And no, Audi isn’t planning a cabriolet version, despite the car’s name – Cross Cabriolet Quattro. Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which open to the press today, the concept will become a production car in 2008 when Audi starts manufacturing the Q5 in Germany. At 4.62m long, 1.63m high and with a wheelbase of 2.81m, it’s longer and lower than a Freelander, and bigger than Audi’s four-door Cross Coupe concept driven by Autocar earlier this year.Based on the new Audi A4 and A5 platform, the Cross Cabriolet uses a version of the company’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that Audi claims is the cleanest diesel in the world. Like Mercedes’ Bluetec diesels, it injects a liquid called AdBlue into the catalyst that neutralises nitrogen oxide.
A hard-pulling soft-roader
With 240bhp and 369lb ft the V6 diesel helps to give the Cross Cabriolet a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds, making it faster than a Freelander i6. Fuel consumption is claimed to be equally impressive. The motor drives the car through a quattro drivetrain with a 60 per cent power bias towards the rear axle, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.When he confirmed earlier this year that the Q5 4x4 will go into production, then Audi boss Martin Winterkorn described the car as “overtly sporty.” The car uses plenty of aluminium suspension components to cut weight, and although it’s based on the A4 platform, the car is fitted with a version of the Q7’s twin-tube suspension dampers.Adjustable ride height, courtesy of electric motors under each spring, allows the driver to raise the Cross Cabriolet by 40mm in four seconds, which should help to give it some off-road ability, and drop it again for motorway driving.
And not coming to the road car…
Audi has hinted at the possibility that the Q5 will work off-road with the concept’s directional mud-terrain tyres, which are unusually aggressive for what is ostensibly an on-road concept. The Cross Cabrio also has underbody guards; they’re unlikely to be so obvious on the finished car.In another pure concept car touch, the Cross Cabriolet has ceramic brake discs and six-piston callipers on the front axle, behind 21-inch wheels. The production car will use standard vented steel discs and will probably ride on 18in wheels as standard. Inside the car uses a development of the Cross Coupe’s cabin, itself a variation on the Roadjet concept’s interior. As this is the third time this theme has been seen, expect the production versions of both SUVs to use this style of interior. The seats incorporate an “airscarf” function, similar to the system Mercedes uses in the SLK. It’s likely that a future Audi cabrio, possibly the forthcoming A5, will use something similar. Less likely to make production (not least because the Q5 isn’t going to be available as a cabrio) is a four-way intercom system that allows the occupants to talk to each other at high speeds with the roof down.