Photo: Automotive Intelligence
It is a gathering place for automobile enthusiasts on account of the "Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Race". Every year in June, up to 160 fearless drivers tackle this 12.4 mile (almost 21 kilometer) long run, which has straights on which 125 mph (200 km/h) can be reached but also 156 corners with loose stone surfaces, unprotected by any form of crash barrier.
Three victories have made the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Race part of the successful history of Audi Motorsport. In 1985 it was won by Michèle Mouton, the first woman driver ever to win a world championship rally. A year later, the legendary American race driver Bobby Unser proved to be unbeatable, and in 1987 Walter Röhrl in the Audi Sport quattro S1 scored a much-admired overall victory by conquering the Peak in the new record time of 10:47.85 minutes.
The qualities possessed by the Audi Pikes Peak quattro exhibit definite parallels with the world of rallying, that high-speed sport mostly conducted on loose-surfaced roads and tracks. However, the Audi Pikes Peak quattro for 2003 is considerably more versatile than the Audi Sport quattro that was so successful 15 years ago.
The idea behind the Audi Pikes Peak quattro
This four-door 4+2-seat hatchback is a draft design that indicates the systematic evolutionary path that current Audi design could take - but it is more besides: the Pikes Peak quattro illustrates the novel AUDI AG concept that spans several segments in the premium automobile category.
The Audi Pikes Peak quattro is notable for the manner in which it combines the sheer power of the legendary Audi quattro and an advanced design concept that brings together elements from widely varying types of automobile.
The Audi Pikes Peak quattro is a crossover model. It possesses typical qualities from a number of different automobile categories. From the luxury sport sedan it adopts dynamism and comfort, but its off-road competence comes from its variable-height adaptive air suspension and quattro driveline. This is not all: the Audi Pikes Peak quattro is equally convincing with its innovative seating concept with variable elements as used in luxury vans.
What makes the Audi Pikes Peak quattro a truly forward-looking concept are its restrained but elegant proportions, with a confident air of supremacy and styling full of character that set it well apart from clumsy attempts to interpret the theme of a 'go-anywhere' vehicle.
Eight-cylinder, 500 hp engine with twin turbochargers and direct gasoline injection
Well known from the Audi RS 6, the V8 engine with twin turbochargers has been further developed and now has a power output of 500 hp. A decisive factor in this power hike is the advanced FSI direct gasoline injection principle, which indicated that new standards were about to be set when it was used on the competition cars that scored historic victories in the 2001 and 2002 Le Mans 24-Hour races and in the American Le Mans Series. Powerful FSI engines are already in production for the Audi A2 and A4 models.
In the Audi Pikes Peak quattro the eight-cylinder twin-turbo FSI engine is notable for its free revving and vigorous pulling power at all engine speeds. It accelerates the Audi Pikes Peak quattro from 0 to 100 km/h in only 5.0 seconds (0 - 60 mph in 4.7 sec) and takes it on to a governed top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h). Its maximum torque of 630 Newton-meters is available from as low an engine speed as 2000 rpm upwards and remains constant over a broad speed range. This supreme, massive pulling power is ideal for fast cross-country driving and for negotiating off-road sections of the journey.
Audi is systematically exploring new paths
The concept chosen for the Audi Pikes Peak quattro unites the most varied demands that can be made of an automobile: it is a sedan with abundant sporty style, suitable for serious travel purposes, it is powerful off-road transport and it is a stimulating leisure vehicle with a versatile interior layout for passengers and loads.
The Pikes Peak quattro is further evidence of Audi's proverbial technological lead as expressed in its slogan "Vorsprung durch Technik". Audi is systematically exploring new paths: quattro, TDI, FSI and Audi Space Frame are just some of the examples of its pioneering technical achievements.
When developing new vehicle concepts, Audi deliberately goes beyond conventional limits. Short-lived fashion trends are not the objective - Audi's aim is to establish new milestones. The Audi Pikes Peak quattro is yet another example of this.
The Audi Pikes Peak quattro shows that the existing definition of the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) must be modified, and new values added. It extends the activity component in this definition to include such typical Audi attributes as the quattro driveline with variable-height adaptive air suspension, and matches the dynamic road performance of many a high-class sports car. With its 4 + 2 seating system, which is operated electrically and therefore needs no manual effort, it adds a new quality to the term versatility. And in addition, its sporty, elegant styling is visually satisfying.
The Audi Pikes Peak quattro is therefore more than another SUV: it unites the best characteristics of several different automobile worlds at the very highest level, to achieve a hitherto unattained level of overall harmony.
(January 9, 2003)