Making its world debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, the Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept is offers new insight into a host of the automaker's future styling, design and technological thinking, particularly as it applies to its "Q" family of crossovers. A compact 2+2 gas/electric hybrid, the Crosslane Coupe Concept wraps bold bodywork - including a slick removable top element -- around a new lightweight space that's fitted with Audi's latest plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Crosslane Coupe Concept's stylish exterior embodies more aggressive cues throughout. It starts up front, where the fascia is dominated by a new interpretation of Audi's signature single-frame grille. Trapezoidal headlamps with Audi Matrix LED technology, prominent air intakes and longitudinal slits in the hood set the stage for an edgy look that's reinforced by the character lines in its body sides and a low greenhouse that leads back into its distinctive C-pillar. Out back, the theme is continued with LED taillamps and a lightweight rear bumper that incorporates a large functional aluminum diffuser. Like the lower portion of the rear bumper, the Crosslane Coupe Concept's removable roof element is made from CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic). Weighing less than 22 pounds, it can be stowed over the car's rear load area.

The interior of the Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept places a similar emphasis on geometric design themes and makes liberal use of multi-toned CFRP and aluminum accent bits to complement the mix of semi-aniline and Velvet leather upholstery. Power front buckets oversee the car's low dash that features driver-selectable instrument displays -- including those that oversee the operation and status of the hybrid drive system. There's also a large, central touch pad in the console. In addition to allowing all aboard to always remain in touch with the Internet community via a new feature on Audi Connect, the Crosslane Coupe Concept boasts a new "Escape Manager" program that allows passengers to review and comment on the routes they are driving for their friends.

To take full advantage of its "utility" aspect, the Crosslane Coupe Concept has one more innovative touch in the form of an articulated stow bin that is configured as a separate element within the body structure. Attached to the back of the folding rear seats - but not affixed to the cushions - it can be moved forward almost 16 inches at the touch of a button and reveals a secondary storage area that's ideal for parking dirty or wet items.

Beyond its eye-catching appearance and people-oriented packaging, the Crosslane Coupe Concept boasts a stunning array of new tech that also will be part of Audi's more fuel-efficient future. Underpinning this show car is an innovative Multimaterial Space Frame that extends the scope of the automaker's existing aluminum space frame into an entirely new realm. While retaining a central alloy structure, the new Multimaterial Space Frame by augments it by substituting even lighter weight CFRP and GFRP (glass-fiber reinforced polymer) elements in areas like the front/rear crash structures, inner sills, center tunnel, bulkheads and crossmembers in the floor. Surface GFRP components with partial CFRP reinforcements also are used in various exterior panels. In addition to helping keep the Crosslane Coupe Concept's curb weight to just 3,064 pounds, Audi says the MSF structure also has cost advantages to the end customer and will use less overall energy during its total life cycle.

Adding to the Crosslane Coupe Concept's operational efficiency is a version of Audi's dual-mode hybrid system. Virtually identical to the one found in the Audi A1 e-tron, it matches a 1.5-liter/3-cylinder TFSI turbocharged gasoline engine that makes 128 horsepower with two electric motors. The first develops 67 horses and acts primarily as a starter/generator while the second traction motor turns out 114 ponies. Collectively the system makes 175 horsepower, sufficient to send this intriguing Audi from 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds in hybrid mode, or 9.8 ticks on pure electric power. Top speed is 113 mph, and the 17.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack can keep it traveling for up to 53 miles on a single charge.

While the Crosslane Coupe Concept can reach speeds up to 80 mph in EV mode, the engine and generator motor are able to kick in when the pace goes beyond 34 mph to help replenish the battery. Above 80 mph, the gas engine takes over prime mover duties. Like the A1 e-tron's setup, this system is designed to transition through its various modes transparently and features various regen elements. The driver also can toggle between "cruise" and "race" settings, the former prioritizing electric motoring while the latter allows the vehicle to reach its maximum performance potential.

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