The 2008 Paris Motor Show will play host to a new variation on the theme of a more compact Audi – the five-door A1 Sportback concept study – which combines cutting-edge styling with optimum economy of space, supreme quality and a series of visionary technical solutions that help to reduce CO2 emissions to just 92 g/km. The 3.99-metre long and 1.75-metre wide study furthers the many advances made by the three-door A1 project quattro show car which debuted in Tokyo in 2007.
A new version of the innovative hybrid technology employed in the A1 project quattro provides power for the A1 Sportback concept. Under the bonnet is a transversely mounted 1.4-litre TFSI engine developing 150PS and 240Nm, and directing this to the front wheels by means of the S tronic dual-clutch transmission. A 20 kW (27 hp) electric motor integrated in the drive train is able to deliver up to an additional 150 Nm of torque (110.63 lb-ft) when the vehicle is accelerating.
During the boosting phase, i.e. when the TFSI engine and electric motor operate simultaneously, the two power packs deliver impressive propulsion. The tried-and-tested front-wheel drive configuration – supplemented by the newly developed, ESP-controlled active front differential lock – ensures optimum power transfer to the road.
The electric motor is also capable of powering the vehicle unaided for zero-emission driving in residential areas, for instance. The capacity of the lithium-ion batteries gives the vehicle a range of up to 62.14 miles 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 of the Audi A1 Sportback concept by almost 30 percent compared to when it is running on the combustion engine alone. Despite its strong performance, with acceleration of 0 to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 124mph, the Audi A1 Sportback concept is nevertheless capable of returning up to 72.4mpg; CO2 emissions are an efficient 92 g/km.
Overrun, or the so-called regeneration phase, is one of the most important elements of this vehicle concept for optimizing efficiency as it transforms the braking energy released during deceleration phases back into electrical energy, instead of it being wasted and released as heat.
Power transmission to the front wheels is the task of the Audi S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. It allows the driver to change gear in fractions of a second without the use of a clutch pedal and with no interruption to the power flow. If required, the transmission performs the gear changes fully automatically, too. If the driver wishes to change gear manually, he or she can do so by using the shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. Reverse gear and neutral are engaged via the gear knob on the centre console. The park position is automatically selected when the electric parking brake is engaged.
Advanced chassis with new active differential lock
The fundamental ingredient for outstanding driving safety and handling dynamics is supplied by the sophisticated chassis design, comprising McPherson front suspension and four-link independent rear suspension. Large 18-inch wheels with 225/35 R18 tyres boost both driving pleasure and safety. Thanks to the newly developed active, ESP-controlled front differential lock, propulsive torque is distributed according to the driving situation, thereby achieving enhanced steering precision and directional stability as well as improved traction and handling when cornering.
The braking system with its large-diameter discs (measuring 312 mm across at the front wheels) is more than a match for the drive power. Bred on the racetrack, the system promises outstanding, fade-free stopping power.
The electromechanical steering with speed-sensitive power assistance is also a boon for agile handling. The system boasts optimum steering feel combined with low sensitivity to road surface irregularities and a considerable reduction in energy consumption.
Audi magnetic ride
The shock absorbers cushioning the A1 Sportback concept deploy a highly innovative technology in the form of Audi magnetic ride, which has already made its mark in the Audi R8 high-performance sports car and in the TT. Here, the conventional shock absorber fluid is replaced by a magneto-rheological fluid whose qualities can be controlled by means of an electromagnetic field. This effect enables the damping characteristic to be influenced electronically by applying a voltage to the electromagnets, ensuring that the appropriate damping forces are available in any driving situation. A computer linked up to a system of sensors interprets the current driving situation with split-second speed, and offers selectable handling or comfort-biassed settings.
Audi drive select with efficiency mode
Dynamic ability and efficiency in the A1 Sportback concept are also enhanced by Audi drive select, which is currently available as an option in the A4, A5 and Q5 ranges. This enables the driver to pre-select one of two specially adapted configurations for the drivetrain, shift characteristics and magnetic ride shock absorbers.
The default setting is the “efficiency” mode. In this mode, the engine and transmission respond gently to use of the accelerator and shift paddles. This setting is ideal for a relaxed driving style, as well as offering tremendous potential for effectively lowering fuel consumption, and therefore emissions.
In the “efficiency” mode the Audi A1 Sportback concept can be used for distances of up to 62.14 miles in purely electric mode, and at speeds considerably in excess of 62.14mph thanks to the powerful battery. The combustion engine only cuts in again once battery capacity has dropped to below 20 percent of maximum.
In this mode, the electric motor is not deployed as a source of additional torque; instead it is run selectively as the sole power source to bring about a tangible reduction in consumption. For this purpose, the system makes use of a host of parameters which can be fed to it via the navigation system. In the “efficiency” mode, for example, with a fully charged battery and a distance of less than
31 miles the vehicle is operated in principle on purely electrical power.
Thanks to the navigation system’s ability to detect differences in altitude along the route, regeneration phases as well as the increase in energy requirements on inclines can be computed before the journey has even started. This makes vehicle operation even more efficient through optimum utilization of the electric motor.
The sport mode is designed to produce dynamic yet comfortable driving characteristics. In this mode, the vehicle’s electronics also harness the torque available from the electric motor to achieve optimum acceleration along with excellent lateral dynamics.
State-of-the-art lighting technology
Externally, the taut lines of the A1 Sportback concept’s futuristic body are emphasized by flared arches that pay homage to the Ur quattros of the 1980s, and to today’s RS 6. At the front, the design of the three-dimensional main headlights using innovative LED technology is especially eye-catching. All light functions – low‑beam and high-beam headlights, daytime running lights and turn indicators – have been located in one flat housing, in concentrically arranged, parallel and squared-off strips. The layout, with light segments of varying sizes – the low beam taking up most space – completely changes the “face” of the A1 Sportback concept.
The rear lights, too, continue this theme and combine the function of tail and brake lights, turn indicators, reversing and rear fog lights into an unmistakable design. The interplay of acute and obtuse angles and the clear and coloured glass areas create a particularly dynamic look. A large-dimensioned, transparent cover over the entire width of the vehicle additionally combines both light units and emphasizes the horizontal design of the rear.
In the contrasting white and red interior, with its four individual seats and a surprisingly generous amount of space, a curved, wrap-around section combines the doors and the sporty cockpit into one single unit, with the dashboard and centre console designed entirely around the driver. The centre console accommodates the integrated selector lever, only extended in drive select dynamic mode, the start/stop button for the engine, the switch for Audi drive select and the armrest with an integrated mobile phone pocket.
The apertures of the sporty seats with their integral head restraints are made from a transparent, mesh-like fabric which further accentuates the airiness of the design, and details such as the turbine-look air vents and air conditioning controls add interest with their aviation inspired design. The vents’ air flow direction and volume can be regulated simply and intuitively by turning or pressing the control button in the centre of the vent.
Audi mobile device – the second generation
Whereas the Audi A1 project quattro study featured its own mobile control unit for infotainment and vehicle systems, the A1 Sportback concept takes one step further into the future: the driver can use a commercially available mobile phone (equipped accordingly) as a car phone, address database, navigation system and audio/video player. At the same time it can be used as a control unit for numerous vehicle systems in the Audi A1 Sportback concept. Several phones that are suitable for these functions are already available from various manufacturers.
All that is required is some additional software, which Audi will provide on the internet for the driver to download and install. He or she can then enter a route plan or adjust the sound system to suit individual preferences, all from the comfort of home, for example. The mobile phone and vehicle communicate via a fast WLAN connection, even over considerable distances.
The system also offers the user a security function: within the range of the WLAN it can constantly monitor the current status of the vehicle, for instance whether all windows and doors are closed. The additional software offers numerous comfort and convenience features such as continued destination guidance on the mobile device after the vehicle has been left in a car park. A maximum parking time can be set via the device, and the navigation software will then lead the user back to the Audi A1 Sportback concept - taking the current distance from the vehicle into account - in good time to meet the parking deadline.
During the journey the mobile device demonstrates its strength as a portable media player. If the user listens to a song in a certain driving situation – on the motorway, for example – it is entered in an appropriate playlist. The software registers when and where the user prefers to listen to particular songs. The music is then available at the right moment.
Next generation MMI
The MMI control unit in the A1 Sportback concept study is a further development of the familiar design. In terms of feel it is easier to operate, particularly while driving. Grouped around the central rotary pushbutton are four fixed-function hardkeys for the Navigation, Telephone, Car and Media basic menus. Four additional, backlit softkeys have variable functions which change within the individual menus.
All system information appears in the central display in the instrument cluster. This is designed in its entirety as a digital, freely configurable display with no mechanical elements. Superimposed glass elements make the graphics stand out with a three-dimensional look, producing a level of depth which could never be attained using a standard display.
As well as the virtual, large circular dial of the analogue speedometer, which is always visible on the right-hand side of the instrument cluster, numerous other displays can be called up on request, and can be selected via control buttons on the steering wheel. These include infotainment, classic navigation by pictogram or map, a rev counter, information on how to drive as efficiently as possible and a current status report on the hybrid drive.
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