A standard production Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Quattro has a kerb weight of 1,425 kgs, its structure already optimised with the advanced weight-saving technologies that the German carmaker has developed over many decades. Its body weight of just 206 kgs plus 98 kgs for the detachable body parts is testimony to the outstanding lightweight construction expertise, specifically, the Audi Space Frame (ASF).
Now the engineers have pushed the envelope in saving weight and removed another 43 kgs from the body structure which, together with the optimized detachable body parts, gives a total weight reduction of weight saving of 100 kgs, dropping the kerb weight to 1,111 kgs or about 310 kgs less than the production model.
With this weight, the special model – referred to as the Audi TT ultra quattro concept – can achieve a weight-to-power ratio comparable to thoroughbred super sportscars even with a 2.0 TFSI engine that produces 310 bhp/400 Nm. With less weight to move, the acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h is said to be as low as 4.2 seconds. No speed-limiter for this car so it can goes past the usual 250 km/h ‘voluntary limit’ to a claimed top speed of 280 km/h.
Audi has adopted an intelligent mix of materials according to the motto: the right amount of the right material in the right place. The TT ultra quattro concept uses carbonfibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) in the rear end, the centre tunnel, in the B-pillars and in the roof. Magnesium components in the floor and as hinge reinforcement reduce weight even further.
The combination of lightness and sportiness is also reflected in the looks. Compared with the showrooms model sold to the public, the Audi designers have sharpened the concept car’s contours further. With its large spoilers, the TT ultra quattro concept proudly displays its motorsport genes. The base of the rear wing is manufactured as a supporting component from milled aluminium while the wing, as a functional element, is made of visible carbon.
The concept car is painted in the special colour of crystal white. The CFRP used on the exterior adds a striking touch on the bonnet, the roof, the sides and the boot. Inside, the same material can also be found on the door trim, the centre console and the cross-bracing that replaces the rear seat bench. Bucket seats from the R8 GT are fitted; their chassis alone, made out of fibreglass-reinforced plastic (FRP), reduces weight by 22 kgs.
Surprisingly, cutting out that much weight has not meant sacrificing comfort and the concept car retains air conditioning, electric window controls and uses an electro-mechanical parking brake. However, the door mirrors are replaced by compact cameras which transfer the images directly into the digital cockpit.
To reverse the weight spiral, the Audi ultra lightweight construction concept is applied to all elements in the automobile, with further optimization of each component. The front brakes feature ceramic discs with an aluminium fixed caliper; the exhaust system made out of titanium ends in a single central tailpipe. The wheels also reduce weight by 20 kgs and their spokes made out of high-strength aluminium bolted directly to the CFRP wheel.
Every gram counts, particularly on the suspension. Here the unsprung masses have been reduced, thus improving comfort and handling. The coil springs are not made out of steel but from FRP and at their core are long glass fibres twisted together and impregnated with epoxy resin. A machine wraps additional fibres around this core, which is only a few millimetres in diameter, at alternating angles of +/- 45 degrees to the longitudinal axis. These layers support each other and act in either compression or tension. The use of FRP at this point cuts weight by 40% while maintaining good characteristics.
To further improve the handling, the engineers eliminated weight from the ends of the car and moved it into the middle. The starter battery, for instance, is located in the cabin (under the driver’s seat) and is a lithium-ion type with a more compact casing and weighs just under 4 kgs.
Though the lighter weight already means improved performance, the engineers tweaked the 4-cylinder TFSI engine a bit, putting it on a par with the power of the V8. Modifications to the crankcase, the crankshaft, the balancer shafts, the flywheel, the oil sump, the bolts and certain ancillary units made the engine 25 kgs lighter.
The technologies used for the TT ultra Quattro concept are expensive and while they may not be used in high-volume models, Audi says that they might be adopted for future small-batch products.
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