Thursday, October 16, 2008

Audi A1

Audi’s A1 Sportback Concept displayed at the 2008 Paris Motor Show picks up where the Audi metroproject quattro concept left off last year at Tokyo 2008. This time the preview to the upcoming A1 is in a 5-door guise instead of the Tokyo concept’s 3-door body.

Inside the engine bay is a 150 PS version of VW’s 1.4 liter TSI petrol engine with a nice 240Nm of torque between 1,600rpm and 4,000rpm. There is also a 27hp electric motor that can provide an additional 150Nm of twisting power whenever needed.

This motor seems to be smaller than the metroproject quattro’s unit which was capable of 40hp and 200Nm of torque. Also, in the previous concept car, the motor was positioned at the rear axle giving the car all-wheel drive but in this concept the motor is integrated into the drivetrain powering the front wheels together with the combustion engine.

When the Audi drive select is set to the default efficiency mode, the electric motor will be run selectively as the sole power source to minimize the use of the combustion engine. The brain that controls this also communicates with the onboard satnav system. For example, when you key in a journey that will take a distance of less than 50km, only the electric motor will be used.

The lithium-ion batteries that the motor draws its power from can provide enough power for up to a maximum of 100km on a full charge. The car is also a plug-in hybrid - the batteries can be recharged via plugging the car into a regular power outlet. Whenever maximum power is needed, both powerplants can function at once delivering maximum propulsion.

This is also one of the few hybrids which do not use a CVT transmission, instead sending power to the wheels via an S-Tronic dual clutch transmission with a new ESP-controlled active front differential lock.

Something else interesting is the Audi mobile device which has evolved from the mobile control unit that was found in the metroproject quattro. This time, such functionality will be available with any mobile phone that supports a special software you can download from the internet - I assume any J2ME phone would work. The phone would also need wifi support as it communicates with the car through an access point in the car.

The software will allow you to pre-plan your onboard satnav route from the phone while you are still in your home or office. But it won’t work if your office is very far away from the car park though as wifi range is not that far. You can also constantly monitor the status of your car such as whether all windows and doors are closed or not.

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