For Volkswagen and Audi, the Frankfurt show was not really about glamorous concepts or new model reveals. As we reported last week, the show was a chance for the Volkswagen Group to spell out its strategy for the future as it strives to regain ground after Dieselgate.
However, there were a few models worthy of attention. A big one for us here in SA, of course, was the 2018 Polo, which will be produced here and which we drove at its international launch.
In the metal it looks more grown up, but at the same time models with the colour-coded dash and all the digital screens have a youthful look about them. We have no doubt it will set a benchmark in the segment.
The company also showed its ID Crozz concept, a slightly reworked version of the model it showed at the Shanghai show earlier in 2017.
The new concept car will be tasked with helping to lead VW’s Strategy 2025 boom in electric cars. Looking like a cheaper, smaller version of Lamborghini’s Urus SUV, the ID Crozz is meant to be part four-door coupe and part crossover, with cantilevered rear doors.
It retains the original concept’s complete powertrain, so it uses a large 83kWh lithium-ion battery to deliver a claim of more than 500km of real-world driving. Largely set up to run as a rear-wheel drive, the concept uses an electric motor on each axle, with a stronger 150kW/ 310Nm electric motor on the rear axle and only 75kW and 140Nm on the front. That gives it a combined output of 225kW and 450Nm.
Audi also showed a couple of concepts, but the focus for the Ingolstadt brand was more on an autonomous future. The strangely named Audi Aicon (Audi Intelligence Concept) is a pure Level 5 autonomous electric concept car with four seats, four doors and no driver.
We reported on its Level 3 A8 last week, but Audi wants to show it isn’t resting on its laurels with the Aicon geared to cover 700km to 800km on a single charge of its capacious solid-state battery pack.
It’s officially a technology and design study, not headed for production, but it is meant to demonstrate Audi’s ideas of how door-to-door full autonomy could retain a brand’s signatures. It’s a quattro in more ways than one, too, with not just four-wheel drive, but four electric motors, one for each wheel, delivering 260kW of power and 550Nm of instant torque.
The layout gives the Aicon tremendous flexibility in its power delivery — though how many people will want their driving computer to fling them around corners at 1g is anybody’s guess and not something even Audi has much data on. Instead, its powertrain trickery will maximise the car’s ability to get itself out of troubled situations where the grip is low or changeable.
The entire car is based around its cabin, rather than its bonnet or boot, but it retains distinct haunches and internal combustion-style power plays all over its surfacing, right down to the convex side windows and the edged D-pillar. At the rear it trips the light fantastic with 600 3D triangular pixels arranged in its grille area, giving it the ability to put on a show with animations, graphics or even information for pedestrians and other people outside the car.
The car is even designed to make "eye contact" with pedestrians and follow them as they walk past the car. When it’s time to get out of the car it sends up a small drone with a flashlight to guide the way at night.
Back to cars of today and the company released a more purist form of the R8 in the form of the Rear Wheel Series (RWS). Only 999 will be built in coupe and drop-top versions and dropping quattro means a saving of 40kg which helps the model sprint to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds.
Finally, Audi revealed its iconic RS4. Currently it will only be available as an Avant wagon. The RS4 Avant returns with the same 2.9l twin-turbo TFSI motor Audi first showed in the RS5 coupe, producing 331kW and 600Nm of torque, filling out the biggest weakness of the old RS4’s 4.2 V8, which only managed 430Nm. Claiming a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.1 seconds, Audi Sport insists it will run out to 280km/h when it has the RS Dynamic Package fitted to give it high-speed tyres.