Photos: Small premium concepts from the Paris Motor Show
Audi, BMW, and Mini each had small concepts to show off at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. These cars epitomize the trend that smaller is better.
Audi continues to explore the idea of a small car with the A1 Sportback concept, following on its A1 Quattro concept shown at auto shows last year. This new concept is a five-door hatchback and uses a hybrid power train. The engine is a 1.4-liter turbo, with a 20-kilowatt electric motor for extra boost and low speed electric drive.
The Audi A1 Sportback uses Audi's dual-clutch transmission. Audi says the car would go from 0 to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds and get a fuel economy of 60 mpg. Audi seems serious about filling up its model line with a small car, but no announcements have been made for putting the A1 into production.
Audi uses a novel idea for the A1 Sportback's cabin tech, powering it all off of a mobile phone. As phones now have GPS, full data connections, music, and video, the car would merely act as an interface and amplifier. The phone would be the brains of the cabin tech.
BMW has been getting into building smaller cars, most recently with the launch of its 1-series. The X1 concept applies similar downsizing to its SUV line. The X1 would enter a crowded but popular market, applying BMW's unique handling traits. BMW is expected to launch an X1 model next year, which will probably look very similar to this concept and employ similar engine choices to that found in the 1-series.
Built on the same platform as the BMW X1 concept, Mini actually had to upsize from its current model lineup to build the Mini Crossover concept. This concept uses all-wheel-drive and a higher seating position than current Minis, along with greater ground clearance, adding a utility model to the lineup.
Mini already actualized the idea of asymmetric doors with its Clubman model, and the Crossover concept continues this design. But the concept uses a sliding rear door on the driver's side, and a standard hinged rear door on the passenger side. The rear gate swings out as one piece.
The Mini Crossover concept's most exotic feature is its center globe, adding a 3D element to Mini's traditional large speedometer in the center dash. The globe uses a laser projection system to display information at different levels within the globe. Although Mini is serious about making a crossover, possibly as a 2011 model, the globe probably won't carry over.