The big three German luxury brands are infamous in charting each-others new models rigorously. When the Mercedes-Benz R-Class emerged to shocked faces across the globe, BMW was not far behind with the 5 series GT in a slight tweak on the theme.
Once one of the big players has established a market, it is widely seen as almost a sure-fire new segment that all must either join or be left out of completely.
The rationale is often more than a little flawed - as the R-Class seven-seater and five-seater minivan/wagon trend failed to spark much interest.
But one clear segment that Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz would all like to excel in? The Coupe SUV Crossover.
The MLC shown by Mercedes-Benz is much, much larger than this TT Offroad concept, but Audi is also expected to have a Q6 coming relatively soon - which may share some cues from this car's roofline.
This look is markedly different, mind you, from the Q1 that Audi has confirmed as the next member of the Q family of off-roaders.
The TT Offroad concept is also a bit smaller than the new BMW X4, but all share the big commonalities: four doors, AWD and modest off-road skills, but low roof heights and fastback profiles.
To that end, the latest Audi TT Offroad concept shows a very interesting approach to this trend. Frankfurt 2013's Audi Shooting Brake Concept (below) was essentially a TT shooting brake on stilts, so this latest concept is certainly not the first time the idea has been floated in Audi conference rooms across the world.
The TT style is expected to have a heavy influence on the coming-soon Audi Q4 (or Q2?) crossover that will either share the Q5's underpinnings, or more likely the smaller Q3, with which the TT Offroad Concept shares most of its dimensions.
This is great news for US shoppers either way by filling another niche in the Audi range and matching BMW toe-to-toe in the SUV sales battle - and even beating the long-rumored X2 to market.
But a Q3 basis will allow the car to be much cheaper and more of a volume player, despite the latest plans to build the Q5 in an all-new factory in Mexico.
Official Details below from Audi
Audi TT offroad concept show car brings the best of two worlds to Beijing
Rugged reinterpretation of all-new Audi sports car with hybrid drive makes its world public debut in China
Study combines the attractions of a coupe with the utility of a compact SUV
Powerful and efficient e-tron quattro drive with inductive Audi Wireless Charging technology
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg: "A glimpse of how we might imagine a new model in a future TT family"
The Audi TT offroad concept breaks the mould, combining the visual and dynamic appeal of a coupe with the practicality and adaptability of a compact SUV. The four-door model, which Audi is presenting at the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, adds an entirely new dimension to the Audi design language. Its plug-in hybrid drive with two electric motors and a system output of 408PS ensures that it can deliver in performance terms while also potentially returning in excess of 148mpg.
"The Audi TT offroad concept provides a glimpse of how we might imagine a new model in the future TT family," says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development. "It combines the sporty genes of the TT with the strengths of a compact Audi SUV. Its plug-in hybrid drive with the option of inductive charging is a major step toward the mobility of the future. We chose to present the Audi TT offroad concept in China, our second domestic market, because it represents the urban mobility of tomorrow: It is sustainable, dynamic, intelligent and connected."
The plug-in hybrid drive
The plug-in hybrid drive in the Audi TT offroad concept delivers 408PS of system output and 650 Nm (479.2 lb-ft) of system torque. The show car accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 5.2 seconds and reaches its electronically governed top speed of 155mph without any trouble. Its 148.6mpg economy potential equates to a CO2 output of 45 grams per kilometre. The Audi TT offroad concept can travel for over 50 kilometres solely on electric power and thus with zero local emissions, and has a total range of up to 546 miles.
The combustion engine is a 2.0-litre TFSI producing 292PS and 380 Nm (280.3 lb-ft) of torque. The four-cylinder unit with its large turbocharger is packed with Audi's proven efficiency technology. At part load, indirect injection supplements petrol direct injection for lower fuel consumption. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head - the foundation for the high-performance thermal management system.
A separating clutch links the transverse 2.0-litre TFSI unit to an electric motor producing 40 kW and 220 Nm (162.3 lb-ft) of torque. The slim, disc-shaped electric motor is integrated into the six-speed e-S tronic transmission. The dual-clutch transmission sends the torque to the front wheels. Mounted on the rear axle of the Audi TT offroad concept is a second electric motor independent of this drive unit. This produces a maximum of 85 kW and 270 Nm (199.1 lb-ft).
In front of the rear axle is a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery comprising eight modules. It contributes to the balanced 54:46 weight distribution between the front and rear axles and to the low centre of gravity. The battery stores up to 12 kWh of energy, enough for an electric range of 31 miles. An Audi wall box, which manages the energy feed conveniently and intelligently and can deal with a variety of voltages and outlets, is used for stationary charging.
The show car is also designed for use with Audi Wireless Charging technology for contactless inductive charging. The infrastructure side - a plate with a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter) - is placed on the parking spot of the Audi TT offroad concept and connected to the power grid. The charging process begins automatically when the car drives onto the plate. The alternating magnetic field of the infrastructure side induces a 3.3 kW alternating current across the air gap in the secondary coil, which is integrated into the vehicle. The current is inverted and fed into the electrical system.
Charging stops automatically when the battery is fully charged. It takes about as long as charging via a cable, and the driver can interrupt the process at any time. The Audi Wireless Charging technology is more than 90 per cent efficient, and is not affected by weather factors such as rain, snow or ice. The alternating field, which is only generated when a car is on the plate, is not harmful to people or animals.
The intelligent plug-in hybrid concept of the Audi TT offroad concept makes the show car as efficient as it is fittingly responsive. The Audi drive select management system offers three driving modes. EV mode gives priority to electric driving. In this case, the front drive unit is inactive, and the electric motor at the rear axle with its powerful torque can rapidly accelerate the four-door car to a maximum of 80mph. In Hybrid mode, all three drive systems work together in various ways as necessary. In many situations the front electric motor assumes the role of a generator. Powered by the engine, it recharges the battery and thus extends the electric range. Full system output is available in Sport mode. During "boosting," i.e. strong acceleration, the rear electric motor works together with the TFSI petrol engine. The same thing happens when the hybrid management system decides that all-wheel drive is appropriate. In such situations, e.g. on a slippery road or in light off-road conditions, this essentially makes the Audi TT offroad concept an e-tron quattro.
When the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator, free-wheeling or "coasting" is activated. Recuperation occurs here at low speeds and when braking. The driver can use the "Hold" and "Charge" functions in the MMI system to specifically influence the battery's charge state, e.g. to increase storage of electric energy so that it can be used over the final miles to the destination.