Audi Nanuk Quattro concept, the 544-hp off-road monster with familiar chops


Does a 5.0-liter V-10 turbo diesel, turning wheels the size of an average meteor, packing 544 hp and 738 lb.-ft. of torque, powering to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds and vowing off-road prowess as well as on seem completely preposterous? The Audi Nanuk Quattro concept is indeed that. By all known measures, it comes off insane.

Except that Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, released the Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour, based on a 550-hp Lamborghini, at the Geneva auto show last March. It too sports Swiss Army knife-like adaptability, and packs spookily similar performance specs from its V-10 motor. So why are we seeing this concept again in the form of an Audi?

The Nanuk Quattro promises to provide neutral handling and efficient maneuverability, made possible by rear wheels that turn the opposite direction to the front by up to nine degrees, reducing the turning radius by almost 33 feet. Additionally, the rear wheels turn 2.5 degrees in the same direction as the front, offering a more stable car under high-speed cornering. (A less aggressive system is used in the new Porsche 911 Turbo S -- another member of the VW family.) Adaptive ride-height adjusts automatically to suit changing road surfaces, while at 4,188 lbs., the Nanuk remains a hefty brute.

From its look to its practicality, the Nanuk Quattro poses an interesting concept. But given we've effectively seen it before, do we still care? Volkswagen's leaders have promised all of the brands, from Bugatti to the low-priced Seat, will share more parts in the future, but this feels like a case of Audi reheating Lamborghini's leftovers. Perhaps Giugiaro's public mishap at Goodwood meant VW needed another off-road/on-road/sports car/SUV amidst its list of wacky concepts? If it avoids the hay bales, it'll be doing better than its predecessor.