Just when you thought Audi couldn’t do any worse, the VW-owned German manufacturer is now planning to release a subcompact hatchback called the Audi A1 Sportback. Currently only shown in concept form at the 2008 Paris Auto Show, the A1 wants to take aim at the Mini, but will most likely become known as an overpriced Yaris competitor.
Geeky styling aside, the prototype drivetrain is more interesting. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.4-litre TFSI engine developing 150 hp and 240 Nm of torque, mated to a front-wheel-drive platform and an S tronic dual-clutch transmission. A 20 kW electric motor delivers an additional 27 hp and an extra 150 Nm of torque when the vehicle is accelerating. Acceleration is highest during the boosting phase, which is when the TFSI engine and electric motor operate simultaneously, giving a total of 390 Nm.
Concept features include an ESP-controlled active front differential lock to reduce torque steer due to the front-driven setup, as well as magnetic adjustable shocks, 18-inch wheels, Audi’s useless MMI multimedia system, navigation and a futuristic interior that won’t make it to production.
The electric motor is apparently capable of powering the vehicle alone using lithium-ion batteries, giving the A1 a range of up to 100 km in pure electric mode. The motor can be recharged from any power socket. The automatic start/stop facility, energy regeneration and phases of purely electrical operation reduce the fuel consumption and emissions by almost 30 percent compared to when it is running on the combustion engine alone. Audi says 0-100 kph acceleration happens in 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 200 kph, with a fanciful fuel-consumption claim of only 3.9 litres per 100 km. We’ll believe it when we see it.