A new version of the 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 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.
The shock absorbers cushioning the A1 Sportback concept deploy a 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.
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 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.
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.