Like a Superleggera, but German. The Audi Audi TT Ultra Quattro Concept makes Lamborghini's (and indeed everyone else's) efforts at a lightweight special seem completely inadequate.
Think of a German engineer and what normally springs to mind? Meticulousness? Sensibleness? Cold logic and common sense? In most cases, yes, the above would all apply, but clearly there would appear to be certain individuals within the VW Group kept in a straightjacket in a padded cell, only allowed to work on projects a few months a year.
How else would you explain the existence of the headline-grabbing concepts seen every year at the GTI Festival in Wörthersee? To date we’ve seen the mid-engined Golf GTI W12, the 500bhp, 5-cylinder A1 Clubsport Quattro and the chop-top (decapitated) Skoda Fabia S2000 Speedster, not to mention this year’s twin-turbo V6 Design Vision GTI.
To be fair though, the Audi TT Ultra Quattro Concept isn’t all max power and unhinged lunacy. In fact, the thinking behind it is fairly inspired — using Audi’s racing experience to shed massive amounts of weight: the car weighs just 1,111kg, 300 less than the TTS on which it’s based.
Exotic materials abound all over the car. Not only does it have a carbonfibre bonnet, roof and bootlid, even parts of the body in white are made from the stuff — the rear end, central tunnel and B pillars. With the floor and hinges made of magnesium, about 100kg has been shaved from the car’s body.
In an effort to further improve the ride and handling, a lot of focus has also been placed on reducing unsprung mass. Or course, there are your obligatory carbon-ceramic brakes, but then there are also other innovations like fiberglass-reinforced plastic springs, as well as special, 20kg-lighter wheels, with aluminium spokes bolted to a carbonfibre rim.
Even in the powertrain useful savings have been made. The TT Ultra uses a new variant of the EA888 engine as seen in the new S3 (rather than the EA113 from the regular TTS), but modifications to the crankcase, crankshaft, balancer shafts, flywheel and oil sump trim 25kg, and boost power to 300bhp. There is also a titanium exhaust system, and best of all, a six-speed manual with the R8’s click-clack open-gated shifter!
The great news though, is that with so much weight cut elsewhere, this car can afford to retain all its creature comforts like air-con and electric windows, and even comes with rear-view cameras instead of wing mirrors. Carbonfibre trim features on the doors and centre console, while the seats come straight off a R8 GT and cut 22kg over the standard items.
Will you be able to buy one? Not likely, unless as a final swansong to the current TT (a new one based on the MQB platform should be unveiled next year). But do expect some of the tricks learnt from this project to be applied to future Audi models. It’s a definite "Yes please!" from us to less weight and more performance!