Audi is looking to take the fight to the BMW X4 and Range Rover Evoque with this TT Offroad Concept. It hints at a production car set to be badged Q4 or TT-Q – and we've had an exclusive first drive in the concept.
Curvaceous, chiselled and deceptively compact, the TT Offroad Concept is instantly recognisable as part of the TT family. The narrow LED headlights, sharp chrome grille and F1-style bumper could easily trick some into thinking it’s merely a TT with raised suspension.
But it’s so much more than that. The Offroad Concept is 210mm longer than Audi’s iconic sports car, and 180mm taller. A swooping roofline and steeply raked screens mask the proportions well, which is surprising given that the car is only 80mm lower than the Q3.
When it debuted at April’s Beijing Motor Show, it had plug-in hybrid tech – and that’s the powertrain we’re getting to grips with here. It combines a 292bhp 2.0-litre TFSI turbo and two electric motors. The result is 402bhp delivered via Audi’s e-quattro system. While one of the motors is connected to the gearbox and drives the front wheels, the other is mounted on the rear axle.
Press the steering wheel-mounted starter button and the system whirrs into life. Squeeze the throttle and the jacked-up concept feels effortlessly quick. It’s actually faster than the TT-S Coupe, doing 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds with a 155mph limited top speed.
The driver-focused cabin is centred around the huge 12.3-inch TFT display and flat-bottomed wheel – a set-up borrowed from the third-generation TT. It’s a clean and effective interior that clearly alludes to the car’s capabilities. Obviously, that TT-style roofline isn’t the best for rear headroom, but you can fit adults in the back. Thanks to this concept’s extra length, there’s more legroom than in a standard TT.
There’s also more to the TT Offroad than its performance stats. Powered by the rear electric motor alone, the SUV transforms itself into a silent cruiser capable of a claimed 31-mile electric range and a top speed in excess of 80mph. Better still, Audi says the TT Offroad will be capable of 149mpg.
The company has also tried to balance the positioning of the electric motors so as not to upset the car’s weight distribution. The result is a 54:46 front/rear split, so it always feels stable in bends. Couple that with the electronic quattro system, and the car rarely feels unsettled, but the 21-inch alloys do make the ride a little firm.
This intriguing package neatly blends efficiency, performance, striking looks and classic TT heritage with little compromise. All that’s left now is for Audi to give production the green light. Once that happens, we could see the car on the roads as soon as 2016.
It'd be bizarre for Audi not to recognise and act on the success of the TT. Given the current market trends and demands for sporty SUVs, the TT Offroad Concept fits the bill perfectly. Quirky, clean and quick, it’d be a great addition to the current crop of coupe-crossovers.