Future Audi Off-roader will mix true grit with digital sophistication and emissions-free power. Picture:SUPPLIED
Future Audi Off-roader will mix true grit with digital sophistication and emissions-free power. Picture:SUPPLIED

While Land Rover’s new Defender got the most eyeballs at the Frankfurt motor show, a few halls away Audi design boss Marc Lichte was on stage sharing his imaginations of a future off-roader with the radical looking AI:Trail concept.

He says it could arrive as early as 2030 and get this; you may not own it but you can enjoy it through Audi’s vision of shared motoring, a system which allows subscribers to choose between any of the four AI cars that match your travel needs at any given moment.

The quartet of concept cars envisioned for this are Aicon from the 2017 Frankfurt motor show which offers a lounge-like space for occupants; the AI Race to take for spirited drives up mountain pass roads and race tracks, the AI:Me concept from the last Shanghai motor show which is a compact city car type idea; and this latest AI:Trail for bundu-bashing. “It’s how we imagine a future Audi SUV could look,” said Lichte to throngs of global media converged on the Audi stand.

The electric, four-wheel-drive concept has a length of 4.15 metres and rides on gigantic 22-inch wheels with the ability to adjust tyre pressures while on the move.

Luxury loft type interior has backward-opening rear doors and removable rear seats. Pic: SUPPLIED
Luxury loft type interior has backward-opening rear doors and removable rear seats. Pic: SUPPLIED

A 340mm ground clearance makes it a no-nonsense off-roader which can also ford water more than half a meter deep. Four electric motors positioned at each wheel not only allow for maximum cabin space but they provide a quattro all-wheel drive system.

The motors collectively produce 320kW and a hill-scaling 1000Nm of torque. Thanks to lightweight construction using a mixture of hi-tech steel, aluminium and carbon fibre, it weighs a relatively light 1,750kg. The concept is envisioned to do 250 off-road kilometres while able to drive 400km on pure tarmac with a top speed of 130km/h.

THE REAR PAIR OF SEATS IS QUITE FLEXIBLE AND COULD PERHAPS BE HAULED OUT TO BE USED OUTDOORS

Looking part glass capsule/part Jeep Wrangler, Lichte says the Level 4 autonomy moon buggy-like vehicle features many possible future Audi design cues that could be adopted for production models, like the pronounced belt line.

The AI: Trail is a four seater car. The rear pair of seats is quite flexible and could perhaps be hauled out to be used outdoors while further touches to the concept of an active lifestyle includes a compartment to stash dirty takkies in.

It also has a stack of detachable headlights that can be hung on a drone. The idea is for the drone to fly forward, lighting the path ahead should you be foraging forests in the night.