Audi’s new green baby is shaping up!

29 Oct, 2008 1:45pm Jack Carfrae

German giant planning new eco city car which blends stylish looks with great economy.

Take a look at the smallest, most beautifully formed Audi ever. Auto Express has learned that the German firm is planning a new city car – and it will be based on VW’s ultra-economical micro-machine, the up!

The new baby blends fuel economy and style never seen before from Audi. It will share nearly all its underpinnings with the VW, while maintaining the badge appeal and executive air that buyers have come to expect from the four-ringed brand.

Bosses had previously hinted at the possibility of a small car, and speculation suggested it would be based on the same platform as the A1 concept, first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

But now it has come to light that the platform will be shared with the up! – which will also spawn a raft of other models from fellow VW Group brands Skoda and SEAT.

Audi’s new car will rival top-end versions of the Ford Ka and Fiat 500. As you can see from our pictures, the model adds a distinctive body to the chassis of the up!, with a gaping grille, neat headlamps, beefy wheelarches and a sculpted rear end. But the most innovative move – and potentially the model’s biggest selling point – is the choice of ultra-economical powerplants. Engineers at the VW Group are working on a pair of 600cc two-cylinder turbocharged units – one diesel and one petrol.

Fuel economy is predicted around 95mpg, with super-clean CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km – meaning the Audi won’t cost a penny in road tax under current rules. The company is also toying with the idea of introducing a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine.

Yet near-100mpg fuel returns are clearly not enough – as an electric powertrain is also under development. Details are sketchy at the moment, but ultra-low running costs and emissions are guaranteed.

In addition, Audi has hinted that an eco-minded replacement for the A2 could be on the way. Rupert Stadler, chairman of the manufacturer’s board of management, told us: “We have intentionally left a gap between the A3 and forthcoming A1. Although it’s too premature to talk about the car that will fill it – as it needs time – the A2 had a certain type of DNA with its aluminium body, and this should be respected. But electric drive is a must.”

This newcomer could be based on the larger, MPV-style space up! displayed at 2007’s Los Angeles Motor Show.

However, the up! project is not without its problems. Originally, VW had planned for a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout, devised to provide more interior space. But top brass have since revealed that this threw up issues in testing, with the car proving unstable in cross winds and suffering difficulties with engine cooling.

So, a more modern and straightforward front-engined, front-wheel-drive layout is likely to be adopted. The up! is due on sale in 2010, with its Audi sister model following in 2012.

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