Audi A1 sketches

Published: 27 July 2007

Audi A1: the world exclusive

We always knew that CAR’s Georg Kacher is one of the best connected motoring journalists in the world. But even we were surprised when he rang the office with news that he’d ‘obtained’ official design sketches of Audi’s new Mini, the A1. Forget the artist’s impressions you’ll find elsewhere, CAR Online has three sketches smuggled out of Ingolstadt’s design HQ that show exactly how Audi’s baby will look.

It’s been a few years since the A2 ceased production, and Audi is chomping at the bit to join the ranks of the premium superminis. You can’t blame them after jealously eyeing five years of BMW success with the pricey Mini. Audi’s own supermini will be a classy hatchback laced with the brand’s design flourishes – and will form a crucial plank in its strategy to become the world’s biggest premium car maker by the middle of the next decade.

The A1 will also be among the first VW group models built around its new MQB formula (that’s platform boffin-speak for modular transverse matrix). Sounds a bit dull, but the important thing is this: it will also underpin the next A3 in 2010 and other minis elsewhere in the group, and it’s designed to be cheaper to build, easier to assemble and more flexible to drop in different modules to tailor the spec for different brands. Audi reckons it’ll be $1000 cheaper per car than today’s small-car architecture.

See the new 2018 Audi A1 here

Wow. Describe the A1 in more detail then

Audi plans four different A1 versions: a chunky three-door hatch (revealed here in our exclusive sketches), a roomier five-door hatch, a two-door coupe and an open-top model. Will it be a four-seater cabriolet or a two-seater roadster? We don’t know yet. It may be something else altogether, like an evolution of the interesting A2 Open Air concept we saw at the 1999 Frankfurt show. Former chairman Martin Winterkorn, now at VW, is very proud of his new baby. ‘It demonstrates our packaging skills – this is a more attractive second car. With the new four-door Polo waiting in the wings, conceiving a structurally similar but visually very different version for Audi is not exactly rocket science.’ Audi will equip the A1 with quattro four-wheel drive. That’s one reason why it won’t be based on the new 2008 Polo’s front-drive only PQ25 architecture. Why introduce quattro in this price-sensitive segment? Because premium customers don’t mind spending money on comfort and safety options – and quattro is writ through Audi DNA like a stick of Blackpool rock. All-wheel drive gives planned S1 and Q1 derivatives more kudos, too.

A four-wheel drive, turbocharged Audi S1… sounds like a genuine pocket rocket!

The S1 is tipped to get angular flared wheelarches like the 1980 quattro coupe, and will be powered by a 200bhp turbo engine driving all four corners for all-weather traction. This official Audi sketch shows how a butch, bodykitted S1 could look with large alloys, tarmac-hugging spoilers and LED daytime running lights. Base A1 models will of course be front-wheel drive, and the engines will be direct-injection from bottom to top. Audi plans to offer five different derivatives of the same 1.4-litre petrol. With and without turbo, the power output ratings are 65, 85, 105, 140 and 170bhp. The same reduce-to-the-max strategy applies to the diesels. Here, it’s a new 1.6-litre four-pot, which has been selected to do the job in 75, 90, 105 and 130bhp guise. The transmission of choice is a heavily re-engineered low-cost dual-clutch unit dubbed DSG250 which boasts seven forward ratios, a world first in this price segment. The new management team at Audi needs to make sure that the A1 will be a true Audi – in the way it looks, in the way it is put together, and in the way it drives. Under four metres short and a tad lower and wider than most rivals, the A1 models will be shaped to rival the Mini in terms of street credibility and to eclipse it in terms of practicality. Audi hopes to build 100,000 units in its first full year of production, 2010. But once the open-top version and the Q1 are in production, Audi intends to boost the capacity in Brussels to an ambitious 190,000 vehicles. To make sure the new car takes off like a rocket, prices are expected to start at €16,000 (£10,700) in today’s money, thereby undercutting the least expensive Mini by almost 10 percent.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet