At the Detroit Auto Show, a month before Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, Audi unveiled a concept vehicle that had more than a few cold-weather-lovers daydreaming of six more weeks of winter. Derived from the automaker’s forthcoming, Volkswagen Tiguan–based compact sport-utility vehicle, the Q3 Vail Concept pays tribute to one of the world’s great ski destinations with dramatic styling touches and a host of artfully designed and engineered enhancements.
Audi’s relationship with skiers is strong, thanks in no small part to its partnership with the United States Ski Team. So there’s more to the Vail concept than an (admittedly gorgeous) coat of Energy Red paint and 20-inch five-spoke wheels, including sculpturally beautiful aluminum roof rails that were conceived with the needs of skiers and snowboarders in mind. Wide-angle LED floodlights illuminate the darkness—perfect for those nighttime trips to Eagle’s Nest.
Behind its single-frame grille, the Vail’s 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine delivers 314 hp through a 7-speed manu-matic transmission and, of course, Quattro all-wheel drive. Audi claims the car will sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 5.5 seconds and press on to 163 mph.
The Q3 is set to arrive in the United States for the 2014 model year, priced comfortably below the Q5’s $35,600 starting figure. Expect most of the Vail Concept’s wintertime enhancements to join the options lists (or the Audi collection catalog), and the turbocharged 5-cylinder power plant may find its way here eventually, too. At launch, however, look for Audi’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline and diesel engines. (audiusa.com)