Audi's new A1 might be chasing the Mini, but the e-tron version, should it make production, will be after the Chevy Volt's scalp.
Unlike the first e-tron, which featured four electric motors, one for each wheel, and the second e-tron concept, which had two, one for each rear wheel, the A1 e-tron features a petrol engine, albeit one whose sole purpose is to keep the car's battery pack topped up.
The A1 e-tron's electric motor takes pride of place at the front of the car. The electric motor drives the front wheels and is powered by a Lithium-ion battery pack underneath the rear seats. In an arrangement similar to the Chevy Volt, there's a petrol engine, dubbed a range extender, to keep the batteries topped up. Unlike the Volt, though, the petrol engine sits at the rear of car, below the boot floor.
Even more intriguingly, the A1 e-tron's range extender engine is a single rotor Wankel engine (pictured above). After a blaze of glory in the 1960's, only one auto maker, Mazda, has persisted with this type of engine. Today it can be found powering the RX-8 sports car.
Audi has been priming the public for its Polo/Yaris-sized luxury city car for a while now, rolling out tonnes of sketches, as well as street art (above). The Mini-chasing A1 will soon go on sale in Europe with a variety of conventional petrol and diesel engines.
The navigation screen and interface controls in the e-tron look the same as in the standard A1, suggesting the same cabin tech. However, the e-tron uses an electronic display for its instrument cluster.
The navigation system comes with a 60GB hard drive and has detailed 3D topographic maps. Of the 60GB of hard drive space, 20GB can be used to store music. The available Bose audio system uses a 10-channel 465-Watt amp powering 14 speakers, which should equal a lot of sound for a small space.