First spyshots of the Audi Q1 (2016)

Published: 21 July 2015

► First pictures of Audi Q1 prototype
► Will rival BMW X1, Merc GLA
► Scheduled for launch in 2016

Say hello to Audi’s littlest SUV (for now, at least). You’re looking at the upcoming Audi Q1, caught on camera for the first time.

We’ve previously snapped Q1 test mules built around VW Tiguan bodyshells but there’s no cross-dressing this time – this is the genuine article.

What’s under the bodywork?

A shorter-wheelbase version of the next-generation Audi Q3’s chassis, with a similar footprint to a three-door Audi A3. The Q3, meanwhile, is set to grow in size to create clear air between the two models.

Suspension, electronics and basic architecture components will be shared with both the Q3 and next-gen VW Tiguan, all three cars using elements from the VW Group’s modular MQB platform.  The older Polo-derived chassis that underpins the Audi A1 won’t be a part of the Q1 recipe.

Some of the existing A1’s engine range will be, however. Being an MQB baby, there are all kinds of powerplants the Q1 could be compatible with, including three-cylinder units and plug-in hybrid drivetrains, but we hear that from launch it’ll be straightforward four-cylinder Euro6 fare.

A warmed-up SQ1 derivative is likely to top the range, and could feature a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with more than 230bhp and as much as 369lb ft of torque. Plans for a faster-still RS Q1, which could borrow the 300bhp+ 2.0-litre TFSI lump from the Audi TTS, are yet to be ruled out.

Audi Q1: design

Viewed in profile, the Q1 appears more Allroad Sportback than blocky SUV. It’s been deliberately designed with a sportier, more car-like stance than the more upright Q3.

A key feature is the broad C-pillar, a theme that dates back to the Crosslane concept shown at the 2012 Paris motor show. On the production Q1 it’s evolved into a layered, blade-like design.

The Q1’s appearance is clouded in these pictures not only by the swirly stickers but also by the test mule’s narrow steel wheels. Picture it wearing a chunky set of alloys for the full premium crossover effect.

When, where and how much?

The Audi Q1 is tipped for an unveil early in 2016, and will go on sale in Europe a little later the same year. Markets further afield such as North America may need to wait a little longer.

It’s highly likely to be built at Audi’s home plant at Ingolstadt on the same assembly line as the A3, following transfer of Audi Q5 production to Mexico. 

Incidentally, sources suggest Audi would really rather call the car the Q2, to leave room beneath the Q1 for a smaller-still SUV spun from the next-generation A1. That nameplate’s currently in the hands of the Fiat Chrysler group, however, a situation Audi’s reportedly keen to change.

Click here for the full story on Audi and Fiat’s ongoing badging spat.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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