Classic reimagined

A model from the 1970s gets a new electric lease of life.

It looks every inch a car built for today, but while the EP4 uses a modern drivetrain, the car itself harks back to the beginning of the 1970s.

10 July, 2023

The look is contemporary and sporty, while the drivetrain is all Audi e-tron, but the compact ‘ep4' was actually born way back in 1971, starting life as an NSU Prinz 4. Now, the resurrected NSU sports a sharp new body and interior and its original 30 horsepower (22kW) two-cylinder petrol engine has been replaced with a 176kW electric motor straight out of a 2020 Audi e-tron.

The car is a special project undertaken by a group of Audi apprentices to mark the 150th anniversary of the Neckarsulm site where the NSU Prinz was built by NSU Motorenwerke from 1961 to 1973.

Given the designation ep4, the ‘E’ indicates the car’s new electric drive, while the ‘P4’ simply stands for Prinz 4 – the car’s original model designation. The 12 apprentices were drawn from numerous disciplines, with some working on the badly corroded body of the little NSU while others turned their attention to the new electric drive and suspension.

Given the designation ep4, the ‘E’ indicates the car’s new electric drive, while the ‘P4’ stands for Prinz 4

From the early 1970s to today.

The ep4 strikes a balance between honouring its origins and embracing the future

The ep4 strikes a balance between honouring its origins and embracing the future, with design elements such as the front and rear lights from the 1970s retained along with the characteristic shoulder and roof lines. But to accommodate the new electric driveline meant using a modified floorpan from an A1 including it brakes and axles and this in turn necessitated widening the body which now has more muscular and modern appearance. The wide fenders were designed in conjunction with Audi Design and produced using state-of-the-art 3D printing and these in turn accommodate wider wheels shoed in sticky new performance rubber.

Unmistakable too is the large rear wing – certainly not an inclusion on the NSU Prinz models of the late 1960s or early 1970s – but right at home on the ep4. This wing connects directly to the car’s roll cage (another new addition), which dominates the otherwise minimalist interior which features a Recaro Podium seat and a single-board computer and corresponding screen which serve as the vehicle's speedometer and onboard computer and perform diagnostic tasks.

Painted in Suzuka Grey and Brilliant Black, with 150 anniversary graphics applied, the modern-day NSU Prinz looks completely contemporary. Under the skin, the battery – which comes from an Audi Q7 TFSI e quattro model – has been housed up front under the bonnet where the original car’s fuel tank would have been, and a large air intake under the bumper allows the new assembly to breath. The tailgate also improves cooling and can be fixed in a half-open position, revealing the new electric power plant.

It’s a striking piece of design and execution that brings a car from over 50 years ago racing into the modern age, where, with the styling treatment and modern powerplant, it looks right at home.

“With admirable commitment and considerable creativity, our apprentices have built a tremendous car,” says Xavier Ros, Audi Board Member for Human Resources.

“They can be really proud of the result … Projects like this show that our company has a strong future thanks to our young talent."

The 176kW electric motor is from an Audi e-tron while the battery comes from a Q7 TFSI e- quattro