An Audi sports car of the future may possibly have just started the journey from drawing board to driveway in the shape of the Audi Shooting Brake Concept, a convention-challenging, technology-laden design study destined for the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show (October 22 to November 6).

Inspiration for the Shooting Brake Concept has come from sources as varied as the A4 DTM racing car campaigning the German Touring Car Championship, the RS Q coupé conceived for the film ‘I, Robot’ and the recently launched RS 4 quattro. Blending hatchback and coupé characteristics to stunning effect, it is every inch a sports car, but dedicates more inches than usual to valuable passenger space and practicality.

Outstanding dynamic ability is assured by an advanced new Audi Magnetic Ride adaptive damping system that complements the fully independent suspension. It allows maximum exploitation of the 250PS available from the 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine with its close ratio six-speed manual gearbox.

No less impressive than the dynamic aspects of the Shooting Brake Concept are the practicalities, thanks to a deceptively spacious cabin offering exceptional head and knee room – particularly for rear seat passengers – and a load bay with a maximum capacity of 730 litres.

The futuristic and meticulously finished interior combines a striking body-coloured ‘Electric White’ pearl effect finish for the centre console, door handles and air vent surrounds with a high-tech synthetic material for the instrument panel, roof and door trims.

Its focal point is a new version of the Multi Media Interface operating system (MMI) featuring innovative 3D navigation from a new touch screen monitor onto which destinations can simply be ‘written’ using the tip of a finger. The system’s character recognition facility enables it not only to read handwriting in a wide variety of scripts, but also to identify characters in the Latin and Japanese alphabets. Destinations and details can also be input via a PDA-style remote control handset.

Another interior highlight is an innovative chronograph designed using organic light emitting diodes (OLED) that make it substantially easier to read in adverse conditions than a conventional liquid crystal display (LCD), and enable it to show information in both analogue and digital forms.

Delivering 250PS at 6,200rpm and a 320Nm maximum torque output at 2,500rpm, the transversely mounted 3.2-litre V6 engine is capable of powering the Shooting Brake Concept from rest to 62mph in 6.0 seconds on the way to a governed 155mph maximum speed. With the benefit of high performance, fade-free ceramic brakes it can scrub off this speed just as effectively.

As impressive as the outright performance is the way the alert and responsive chassis channels it, helped by optimised weight distribution achieved through a number of measures including the mounting of the multi-plate clutch for the standard quattro four-wheel-drive system at the rear of the car.

Large 19-inch wheels with 245/40 R19 tyres are suspended by a front McPherson strut and four-link rear set-up bolstered by the new Audi Magnetic Ride adaptive damping system. Helping to keep the body flat and composed under duress, the system replaces conventional damper fluid with a special magnetorheological fluid whose viscosity can be influenced by an electromagnetic field. This effect enables the damping characteristics to be influenced electronically by the application of a voltage to the electromagnets.

The technology enables the Audi Magnetic Ride system to set the correct damping forces for every driving situation, thus optimising ride comfort and balance. It is governed by computer controlled sensors that determine the prevailing driving conditions in a matter of milliseconds, but the driver can also have input through a choice of two optional driving programs – a sports setting, in which the magnetorheological fluid exhibits high viscosity, or a more comfort-biased option.

The Audi Shooting Brake Concept is the latest in a long line of show-stopping Audi design studies, several of which have successfully made the transition into full production with the help of public approval at the world’s Motor Shows. Whether or not the new Shooting Brake Concept takes the same route as the A8 ASF study, the TTS (TT), the Al2 (A2) and the allroad quattro concept remains to be seen.