Will Smith has probably been in more modern movie cars than anybody outside of the Fast & Furious franchise. However, one vehicle stands above them all, the Audi RSQ Concept which was purpose-built for his 2004 blockbuster I, Robot.
The concept pre-dates the Audi R8 supercar which it resembles but like so many sci-fi vehicles promises to be self-driving. Its cutting-edge shape, created by Audi designer Julian Hönig, may have been a little out of character for a technophobic detective. But it wowed a whole generation of Audi lovers. Specifically, my generation.
While I loved the futuristic R8 with spheres instead of wheels, I knew very little about the RSQ. This is why I gave this video from the YouTube channel Supercar Blondie a chance, learning quite a bit from it as a result.
The RSQ is Audi’s first major attempt to get into a franchise, and unlike the quattros and e-trons in the Marvel universe, it’s completely bespoke. It also has the benefit of being based on an existing concept vehicle Le Mans quattro, which had been presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Basically, this was the preview to the R8 sports car and as a result, the RSQ is a working, driving vehicle.
During the film’s release period, Audi thus stated that the RSQ was powered by a twin-turbo 5.0-liter V10 engine. Which was just a paperweight for the movie, since all the driving was done in CGI. However, it’s interesting to point out that the concept vehicle. People believed this has a paddle-shift gearbox like a Lamborghini. But no, hidden behind a panel in the central tunnel is the 6-speed manual gearbox.
Manual gearbox, twin-turbo supercar V10 engine, Audi spaceframe chassis: all these things could have made the RSQ the best-handling concept car ever. However, it doesn’t have good tires to back it up. Hidden behind those spherical sci-fi wheels are a set of super-skinny tires, small enough to turn within the confined bodywork.
The RSQ has hidden design features
Audi wanted the RSQ to be instantly recognizable to any person with basic car knowledge. So it has many distinctive features seen on other Audis of that era, like the singleframe grille and the dash design that would have been seen on any post-2001 Ingolstadt car.
The metallic, wet look of the body was meant to look like a yacht floating on land and this fish-like finish is achieved through Lunar Silver paint on top of a glass fiber custom body.
The idea of spheres instead of wheels reportedly came from the movie’s director Alex Proyas who wanted to ground the vehicle in the year 2035. Through CGI magic, the RSQ was able to move more freely in any direction and defy our expectations of what an Audi can do.
Where is the RSQ now? In the movie, this fine piece of German design is wrecked while the protagonist battles hordes of robots. However, the real RSQ concept survives. It’s been sitting in Germany at Audi’s “treasure trove” collection in Ingolstadt.