The name Audi has given to its Grand Turismo study pays homage to one of the greatest racing car drivers of all time while bringing together the Audi Nuvolari quattro's progressive technology and the history of the brand with the four intersecting rings, which, on the road and in car races, has always stood for both style and sport.
Design and Innovative Engineering: the Exterior
Gran Turismo - the term is synonymous with the ultimate high-performance, road-going long-distance sports car. Time and time again, GTs were among the most fascinating and most beautiful cars of their day. Like no other type of vehicle, a classic GT combines the aura of performance and speed with styling that derives its aesthetic appeal from technology and dynamism rendered visible to the onlooker.
Without a doubt, the Audi Nuvolari quattro, which has a Luna Silver paint finish, is such a car - this becomes clear the very first time you see it. The coupe silhouette of this 2 + 2-seater is dominated by the long engine hood and the roofline dropping smoothly towards the wide rear end. The windows are extremely shallow, emphasising the proportions of the 4.80-metre long, 1.92-metre wide and 1.41-metre high Nuvolari quattro.
The combination of systematic lightweight design and a highly rigid body is doubly important in high-powered GTs such as the Audi Nuvolari quattro - for the car's performance and also for resistance to vibration, which is a vital precondition for dynamic, comfortable driving.
The decision on how to build the body-in-white was therefore easy: the latest-generation Audi Space Frame proved to be the best concept currently available in both the weight-saving design and rigidity departments.
Like the current A8's frame architecture, the Nuvolari quattro's Audi Space Frame (ASF) consists of a combination of extruded aluminium profiles and cast parts connected tightly together, for a combination of minimum mass and maximum strength.
Ambience and Ergonomics: The Interior
Leather and aluminium: the atmosphere in the Nuvolari quattro's interior consists of a dialogue between organic and highly technical materials. The contrasting Stromboli black and Carrara white leather elements and the cool metal surfaces add structure to the layout of the dash panel, doors, and centre console.
The four individual, heavily contoured seats with integral belts are of typical sports car design and provide ample space for the driver and passengers. The high, substantial centre console, which continued through to the rear of the interior, has also been designed according to the classic GT philosophy: the driver and front passenger will feel themselves to be almost part of the vehicle. The three-point seat belts are attached on the insides of the seats. The tiptronic gearshift lever has one shift gate. If the driver prefers to select gears manually, he or she can do so at shift paddles behind the three-spoke sports steering wheel - as in the Le Mans-winning Audi R8. The shift lever is then only used to select the P, R, and D modes. Like the pushbutton-operated electro-mechanical parking brake, the gear shift mechanism has no mechanical connections whatsoever. In addition to the particularly tidy centre console which this provides, it opens up new potential uses for the console itself. The one in the Nuvolari can be opened to reveal an additional, easily accessible storage compartment for the driver. There is also storage space for the rear passengers' use in the rear section of the console.
High power output, maximum torque, refinement and a fascinating sound - these are the basic characteristics of a perfect GT engine, with a fascination that lies both in its potent performance and its everyday usability. The 5.0-litre 'biturbo' V10 has these features plus the 'bite' that comes from ample torque in all engine speed ranges and a willingness to run up to high speeds that is second to none.
This engine is a new design, capable of mobilising an impressive 441 kilowatts of power (600 bhp). FSI petrol direct injection, the advanced technology that is setting new standards and has already paved the way for historic victories in the 2001 and 2002 Le Mans 24-hour races and the American Le Mans Series, makes a decisive contribution to the engine's performance.
Among the most impressive features of the Audi Nuvolari quattro's ten-cylinder 'biturbo' FSI engine's are its willingness to rev freely and the vigorous power flow available at all engine speeds. It accelerates the Gran Turismo from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds and on to a maximum speed that has been governed to 250 km/h. The maximum torque of 750 Nm is available at an engine speed as low as 2,000 rpm and remains constant over a broad engine-speed range. All this results in powerful, not to say supreme, forward thrust, the ideal precondition for driving long distances in a sporting style and also when storming up winding mountain passes.
Quattro Permanent Four-Wheel Drive
The Nuvolari quattro transmits the power from its engine to the road via the quattro permanent four-wheel drive layout, which is still unrivalled and provides excellent traction and lateral stability while minimising the effects of the driveline on the self-steering properties. This is a precondition for the car's enormous cornering speeds and high dynamic stability. In other words: it offers maximum levels of both driving pleasure and active safety.
Driving pleasure was of course one of the main requirements that the Nuvolari's chassis designers were asked to satisfy, because apart from having a powerful engine, GTs are expected to be extremely easy to handle and responsive.
To meet these requirements, the Nuvolari quattro has an aluminium chassis with four-link front and controlled-toe trapezoidal link rear suspension, and both of these concepts lead to enthusiastic cornering ability and high steering precision. A racing-car brake system with large cross-drilled discs is appropriate to a car of this kind, and can be glimpsed through the 9-arm alloy wheels.
The adaptive air suspension - 4-corner air springs with continuous damping control - is the first system of its kind in a GT that resolves the traditionally conflicting goals of excellent handling and comfortable shock absorption on long journeys.
The lowered ride height at high speeds improves the Nuvolari quattro's aerodynamics. Three pre-defined ground clearance levels are available: normal, with a ground clearance of 100 mm; the "autobahn" level (from 160 km/h upwards) with a ground clearance of 90 mm and the raised level with a ground clearance of 110 mm, which is ideal for driving on bumpy roads up to a maximum speed of 40 km/h.
Electronic control of the adaptive air suspension allows drivers to adjust the chassis characteristics and thus the driving dynamics to suit their own preferences in three modes - Automatic, Dynamic and Lift. Depending on the selected mode and the actual speed, the system automatically adjusts the damping characteristics and the car's ride height.
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