2000 Audi Steppenwolf.
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When released in 2000, Audi's Steppenwolf concept sounded like a quasi-ute masterpiece - almost too good to be true and even after all these years, it still looks good and is almost better than anything being shown today
Following the successful launch of the Audi Allroad quattro, the Steppenwolf concept shows how the company's development engineers visualise a high-performance all-rounder for the compact class. This three-door, four-seater vehicle represents the consistent evolution of contemporary Audi design.
The "Steppenwolf" project also provides evidence of the kind of "Vorsprung durch Technik" thinking that has become synonymous with the brand, making use of Audi's quattro expertise and experience with a height-adjustable air suspension.
The 3,2-litre V6 engine develops 165 kW and 320 Nm of torque across a wide rev range, accelerating the Steppenwolf from 0-100 km/h in under eight seconds and pushing it to a top speed of well over 230 km/h.
The quattro permanent four-wheel drive system ensures maximum traction and excellent directional stability in all conditions, and in all types of terrain.
An electronically controlled Haldex clutch distributes power between the front and rear wheels. If the front wheels slip, part of the torque is applied to the road smoothly via the rear wheels as required.
An electronic diff-lock distributes torque evenly between the wheels on one axle. And an electronic stability programme (ESP) helps the driver remain in control when confronted with potentially hazardous driving situations at the limit.
A special feature of the "Steppenwolf" vehicle is its four-level air suspension, offering an adjustment range of 60 mm. This ground-breaking Audi system qualifies the compact three-door model as an all-rounder in a class of its own: ground clearance of up to 223 mm for difficult terrain is just as useful as a low centre of gravity and optimum aerodynamics at high speed.
Audi's development engineers have come up with an innovative solution for the parking brake, which acts on the rear brake discs. An electronically controlled electro-hydraulic system performs the function of the conventional, manually activated handbrake.
As on the Allroad quattro, the "Steppenwolf" has two control strategies for the air suspension - an automatic and a manual mode.
Automatic control is dependent on the vehicle's speed. At speeds of 80 km/h and 130 km/h, the system lowers the body in two 20 mm stages from the normal to the low level, raising the body to the normal level when speed is reduced. The vehicle shares a platform (and transversely mounted engine) with the A3.
(Photo courtesy of Audi USA)
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