A logical design extension of the original e-tron Coupe Concept shown in Detroit early this year, the follow-up Audi e-tron Spyder Concept boasts a new interpretation of the styling language introduced on its closed predecessor as well as a potent new plug-in-hybrid drive system in place of that car's pure electric motivation. The result is a dream machine that also embodies a good deal of very real-world design elements.

Like the e-tron Coupe, the e-tron Spyder Concept features aluminum-intensive ASF (Audi Space Frame) construction throughout complemented by even-lighter carbon-fiber bits including the hood, engine cover and rear diffuser. While familiar family cues are evident in its exterior, including full LED lighting, the Spyder Concept displays a more aggressive, wider/lower take on the basic theme. This is most evident in its redrawn front/rear fascia treatments, prominent side sills, and bolder wheel arches that house the 245/30 front and 265/30 rear performance tires on special 20-inch blade-design alloy wheels. As a crowning complement, the Spyder Concept boasts a sweptback low-profile windscreen/side-glass element that further accentuates its performance character.

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Motivating the all-wheel-drive e-tron Spyder is a combination of diesel-electric power. The rear wheels are linked to a mid-mounted, new-generation of Audi's 3.0-liter TDI diesel that uses two turbochargers rather than just one. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, it makes 300 horsepower-50 more than its predecessor in the Euro-spec Audi R8 -- and a heady 479 lb-ft of torque. Up front, the e-tron Spyder is fitted with a pair of electric motors that add another 88 collective horses and 260 lb-ft of twist to help this eco-roadster sprint from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds and race on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Taken alone, the latest TDI engine in the e-tron Spyder is a study in efficiency, averaging a claimed 106.9 mpg in U.S equivalency numbers. Switch into pure EV mode, and Audi says the e-tron Spyder can travel 31 miles on the electric power stored in its forward-mounted 9.1kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack and reach speeds of up to 37 mph. And using a separate motor on each front wheel also permits active torque vectoring that further enhances its handling and responsiveness.

In keeping with its character, the cabin of the Audi e-tron Spyder Concept strikes a balance between modern minimalism and user-friendly functionality. Thin and elegant rules the day with its wraparound dash and slim-line bucket seats and center console. The digital instrumentation integrates all of the basic MMI control functions, which can be activated using a dedicated touch surface on its three-sport flat-bottom sport steering wheel or the actual MMI knob on the console.

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