With all of the styling cues that you would expect from Audi, the A1 Sportback Concept would appear to be a diminutive version of the sport sedan. Actually, the A1 is a fuel-efficient sub-compact hybrid.
Relative to other sub-compacts, the A1 is downright stunning to look at. It also is a 5-door, four seater that by most estimates is not only roomier than most economical sub-compacts, but despite its affordability still lives up to Audi’s reputation for quality and durability. The concept is powered by a 1.4 liter engine that produces 150 horsepower. The 27 horsepower electric motor kicks in during acceleration and adds another 111 pound-feet of torque. When both the engine and the motor are running, the A1 Sportback achieves 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and tops out at 125 mph. Not exactly a barn burner. But since it is marketed towards customers who want an efficient city car that is solid, reliable, and has a degree of style, that is as much power as it needs.
Most importantly, as far as gas mileage goes, the A1 is estimated to get 60 mpg on the highway and capable of running only on the electric motor for 62 miles. Efficiency is aided by regenerative braking and automatic start/stop technology. The lithium-ion batteries powering the motor can be recharged from any electric socket, according to Audi. The combustion engine engages once the capacity of the battery has dropped to below 20 percent. The car also has navigation software that can detect differences in altitude along a pre-planned route, meaning the regeneration phases and areas where more power will be required can be computed before you start a trip. Other features include 18-inch wheels, McPherson front suspension, four-link independent rear suspension and a new active, ESP-controlled front differential lock with improved stability and traction and utilizes the company’s “magnetic ride” technology, which uses electromagnets to precisely control damping, replacing conventional shock-absorbers.
Much like the newly announced Sony/Saab partnership, the A1 has a new system that enables commercially available mobile phone to be used for controlling systems like navigation and audio via a WLAN connection. The system also adds a degree of security that enables remote monitoring of the vehicle or tell you if your parking meter is about to expire. Audi has thought of just about everything.