Audi – smarter than Smart

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By KARLA PIN­COTT

MOVE over, iPad. Mercedes Smart.

Your po­si­tion as the ultimate city ac­ces­sory is about to be stolen by the Audi A1 e-tron.

The at­ten­tion be­ing given to the lit­tle two-door four-seater at Miche­lin Chal­lenge Biben­dum fore­casts there’ll be a queue when it ar­rives.

And there would have been a queue to drive it, but the baby on dis­play in its Sun­day best was strictly hands-off. So it was left to its big brother, the A3 Sport­back e-tron, to demon­strate on the test track some of what we can ex­pect from the A1.

The A3 at Chal­lenge Biben­dum is a re­search model, and an Audi en­gi­neer at the event said it was not be­ing con­sid­ered for pro­duc­tion at the mo­ment as the model was near­ing re­newal, but the A1 e-tron would be on the mar­ket over­seas late next year.



The sys­tem in the A3 re­lies on an elec­tric mo­tor with a con­tin­u­ous power out­put of 60kW, with peak out­puts of 100kW and 270Nm of torque, which drives the front wheels via a sin­gle­speed trans­mis­sion.

There are three driv­ing modes dy­namic, auto and ef­fi­ciency that change re­sponses to throt­tle in­put and also raise or sup­press the amount of power used. There are also four set­tings that ad­just how much en­ergy is re­cov­ered dur­ing brak­ing and in the sail­ing mode where the sys­tem de­cou­ples and the car es­sen­tially coasts un­til more power is needed.

The lithium-ion bat­tery rank can be recharged from dead-flat in nine hours from a house­hold sup­ply, and in four hours us­ing 400-volt three-phase cur­rent.

Audi says a sin­gle charge will give you 140km in the A3, but the lighter A1 e-tron will have a 45kW mo­tor that can peak at 75kW, work­ing with a range ex­ten­der in the form of a sin­glero­tor Wankel en­gine and 15kW elec­tric gen­er­a­tor to give a 200km drive.

On the track, the A3 e-tron’s over­all driv­ing feel is close to a nor­mal com­pact car, with all strong torque on of­fer and quite re­spon­sive han­dling.

The dy­nam­ics are helped by po­si­tion­ing the bat­tery rank through the cen­tre tun­nel and un­der the rear seat and lug­gage floor to im­prove bal­ance and give a low cen­tre of grav­ity.

The change into sail­ing mode is un­no­tice­able, and can ex­tend for quite a dis­tance un­less ex­tra load is de­manded.

It re­mains to be seen how well the sys­tem would do in a long run, but the per­for­mance of the A3 e-tron sug­gests the A1 will be a star in the city car stakes.

This is the car the early adopters will want to be in, and the uber-chic will want to be seen in.

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