It's been a while since Audi released a single official sketch and confirmed it would put the Nissan Juke-sized Q1 SUV into production, but this is the first physical evidence that the Q3's baby brother is nearing completion. Launching in 2016, it will headline a bumper 12 months for Audi with an all-new Q5 and A5 Coupe also due next year.
Although tightly wrapped in the obligatory swirly camouflage, there are plenty of clues to the Q1’s final form. Up front an interpretation of the new Q7’s 3D grille and sharp LED headlights can be seen bulging under the black and white wrap. The profile is clean and uncluttered, much like the new A4, while the wraparound taillights and neat twin exhaust is a nod to the A1.
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Positioned as a more premium offering compared to the all-conquering Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, the Q1 won’t use a jacked-up A1 platform, but be based around the smallest configuration of the VW Group’s scalable MQB architecture – the same underpinnings that are being lined up for the next-generation VW Polo and Audi A1.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told us recently that the Q1 will allow the company to speak to brand new customers, as well as acting as a step-up for A1 owners. Young people are the target market, and while 70 to 80 per cent of A1 sales are to women, it’s expected that the Q1 will appeal more to male buyers.
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“With A1 we proved that premium doesn’t mean big – people want a quality premium car but not one that is large,” Stadler told us. “Q1 will do exactly the same – it could really exceed all of our expectations as this area of the market is massively strong at the moment and is only set to get even stronger.”
Audi is currently building a brand new factory in its Ingolstadt hometown to produce the newcomer. And once it arrives in 2016, Stadler believes it will join the Q3, Q5 and Q7 in helping the brand’s SUV range form 50 per cent of its overall sales. If Audi is to deliver on its promise of offering a 60-model range by 2020, it needs a flurry of new niche models – and the Q1 is an integral part of that.
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The Audi Crosslane Coupe concept that previewed the Q1 measured 4,250mm long, 1,900mm wide and 1,500mm tall, with a 2,550mm wheelbase and the production model is likely to stick closely to those dimensions, making just a bit smaller than the A3 Sportback inside. Our exclusive image (above) shows how we expect the dinky SUV to look when it arrives.
Engines are expected to be carried over from the A1 supermini, meaning a range of petrol and diesel engines all with stop-start should be available from launch. An entry-level version with the same three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol from the VW up! is also a strong possibility.
Diesel options are likely to include a new 1.4-litre TDI, plus a higher-powered 1.6 TDI. A six-speed manual will be standard, and VW’s new 10-speed DSG – tipped to debut on next year’s new Passat – is expected to be the automatic option.
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The plug-in hybrid system currently found in the A3 e-tron could also be adopted for use the Q1 for a plug-in hybrid version with sub 25g/km CO2 emissions. The Q1 is likely to get a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the newly developed 10-speed DSG gearbox an optional extra on conventionally powered models.
A hot SQ1 could use the same powertrain as the current S1, namely a 221bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine and quattro all-wheel drive. However, MQB will allow the use of an S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission – the current S1 is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. Quattro 4x4 seems likely for both the SQ1 and the Q1 although the vast majority of Q1 sales will be front-wheel drive.
Now read our first drive review of the new Audi A4.