photo: Fourtitude (drawing), Audi AG (Cross Cabriolet quattro)
It appears that Audi is working on its own unique approach to a crossover-based Cabriolet. With models such as the Q5 and Q7 now Audi of America’s top sellers (and crossovers red hot the world over), the idea of convertible versions was probably a foregone conclusion. As is typical of the brand of the four rings, Ingolstadt aims to create their own tech in order to create their own take on a planned market entry. This simplistic patent filing drawing points to that.
Is Audi planning to make a car that looks like the drawing above? No. Simply put, the media has gotten pretty good at digging around patent filings from certain companies and determining what new product will look like. Clearly there’s some engineer in charge of this filing who is thumbing his nose at those media outlets with this one. The drawing itself shows what it needs to show in order to file the patent, and beyond that may as well have been carved on a cave wall by an adolescent neanderthal.
Well played Audi patent team. Well played.
Given the drawing above doesn’t look like what Audi is planning, what can we glean from this? Well, one might start by considering the Audi Cross Cabriolet concept shown several years ago. That vehicle teased the first-generation Q5, which puts its age in perspective. Clearly it didn’t have the top technology seen here, nor did it have the current Lichte-inspired design language of Audi in 2018. Even still, it’s enough to show you what an Audi crossover cabriolet might look like, so we’ve added it here for reference.
It’s probably also worth addressing the elephant in the room. Convertible crossovers aren’t exactly a thing. The Nissan Murano convertible was an odd duck in the market. Even still, it was conceptualized at a time when sedans still ruled the automotive sales volume roost. That’s changed, especially at Audi where the Q7 may sell in smaller numbers than the Q5, but still outsells the once sales-leading A4.
Adding in the idea of a folding hard top is an interesting play, and that’s what’s hinted at in this drawing first revealed by Fourtitude. Folding hardtops became a hot trend in the convertible market several years ago when the BMW 3-series, Volkswagen Eos and Volvo C70 all came to market at about the same time.
Audi skipped that trend, sticking with its class-leading fabric soft tops that allowed for the same or even better levels of noise reduction, while allowing the top to operate at higher speeds. Audi has thus far stuck with that strategy, but a folding hardtop may make more sense for a crossover. The aforementioned Murano and its traditional upright crossover shape looks a bit ridiculous with its folding soft top up (much less down), though one wonders just how a more fastback low slung crossover such as the upcoming Q8 might fare with just such a folding hard top.
Time will tell. In the meantime, check out Fourtitude for more information on the cave drawings above.