Paying high-velocity homage to the vehicle that launched the automaker's now-legendary all-wheel-drive system 30 years ago, the Audi Sport Quattro Concept makes its formal debut in Frankfurt. Boasting an even bolder appearance and meaner yet greener character than an earlier Audi Quattro Concept that was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, this potent plug-in hybrid reportedly is the precursor to a future range-topping ultra-performance model.

Resurrecting the spirit of the original Audi Quattro and the rally-inspired short-wheelbase Sport Quattro -- a limited-production homologation model that hit showrooms in 1984 -- this new Sport Quattro Concept also is a 2+2 coupe that matches bold bodywork with a plug-in gas/electric powertrain. Key elements in that motivational combo are the automaker's 4.0-liter twin-turbo TFSI V8 that makes 553 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque coupled with a 148-horse disc-shaped electric motor that develops 295 lb-ft of peak twist.

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Slotted between the engine and a modified 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, the motor in the Sport Quattro Concept is energized by a liquid-cooled 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Capable of blasting from 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds and topping out near 190 mph with both power elements working together, this awesome Audi also can travel up to 31 miles in pure EV mode. In addition to its zero-emission setting, the Sport Quattro Concept offers efficiency-oriented Hybrid and performance-biased Sport modes. Other mileage-maxing tweaks for the V8 include a start/stop system and Audi's cylinder deactivation setup that lets it operate as a V4 under light load conditions.

Longer, wider and lower than the Gen I Sport Quattro Concept, the core structure on this new iteration features a bespoke version of the latest Audi modular architecture that matches ultra-high-strength steel and aluminum to keep curb weight to 4,079 pounds even with the battery pack. In addition to a "tautly tuned" multi-link suspension and speed-sensitive power steering and super-efficient carbon-ceramic brakes, the Quattro AWD system on Audi's latest dream machine features the automaker's trick sport differential on the rear axle.

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The bold bodywork on the Sport Quattro Concept -- a mixture of aluminum and composite materials -- retains many of the styling elements found on its predecessors, including a unique C-pillar treatment. Both fasciae display a host of hard-core cues, from the large single-frame grille flanked by prominent air intakes up front to an auto-deploying rear spoiler and a highly functional diffuser that also houses a pair of huge circular exhaust outlets. Rounding out the car's racy persona is a large extractor vent behind each front wheelwell, aero-optimized carbon-fiber side sills and 21-inch center-locking alloy wheels wrapped in 285/30 high-performance tires.

Inside, the Quattro Concept features a minimalist but highly functional look that includes four individual sport bucket seats and a prominent carbon-fiber center tunnel as well as a massive transverse stiffening element located just behind the rear perches. Highlighting the car's asymmetric dash is a new reconfigurable instrument cluster that houses a center tachometer flanked by supplemental displays that include speed and gear data as well as a track diagram for use on ultimate "play days." A production-intent, three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel allows the driver to quickly toggle between several virtual information screens and features paddle shifters to operate the car's 8-speed automatic. In keeping with current Audi design thinking, the Quattro Concept is fitted with the latest version of the automaker's multimedia interface (MMI) system.

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