Drives squeezed in over lunch or on the finish of the day replicate the A1 e-tron’s unlucky standing: Stillborn prototype, reasonably than fully-fledged manufacturing mannequin.
And after driving it round Berlin’s crowded streets, we predict that is a disgrace.
The Audi A1 is a subcompact automotive bought in Europe, primarily based on the same platform to that of the equally Europe-only Volkswagen Polo.
It is bought in each three-door and five-door ‘Sportback’ hatchback variants, and normally comes with a variety of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines.
The e-tron is reasonably totally different.
Audi has binned the reciprocating combustion engines in favor of an 85 kW (114 horsepower), 221 pounds-feet electrical motor. Inner combustion hasn’t disappeared fully though–under the trunk ground is a small Wankel rotary engine performing as a range-extending generator.
The idea is that the Wankel’s compact dimension makes it ultimate for a small automotive just like the A1; its small capability and fixed engine velocity reduces the gas consumption rotary items are normally identified for; and as a rotary it is, far smoother–and subsequently much less intrusive–than an everyday piston engine.
We did attempt to take a peek on the rotary unit beneath the trunk ground, however a chunky (and firmly screwed-down) metallic cowl thwarted our efforts.
Audi A1 e-tron first drive, Berlin
We had been in a position to check that smoothness for the briefest of moments as we switched on the e-tron, the faintest of hums emanating from the rear of the automotive for ten seconds or so.
The automotive’s conventional-looking shifter means that you can make the most of rotary energy from the beginning if wants be, for these hypothetical zero-emissions cities that will require you to carry the battery’s 31-mile cost for coming into metropolis limits.
With the lever in ‘D’, it is similar to some other electrical automotive: Close to-silent.
The moment torque and compact physique makes it a breeze to drive in site visitors too. Allied with fast steering, it encourages you to dart for gaps you’d suppose twice about in a combustion equal.
0-62 mph acceleration is quoted as 10.2 seconds, however as with most electrical automobiles, it feels somewhat faster on the road–mainly as its lower-speed acceleration is unhindered by gearchages.
Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to decide your stage of braking era in 4 ranges, from none in any respect to fairly sturdy regeneration. It is within the strongest setting the A1 e-tron’s unfinished prototype standing is betrayed. The transition from acceleration to deceleration occurs with a jerk, and never for the need smoother driving–even probably the most delicate of motions on the accelerator pedal ends in learner-like lurching because the regen kicks in.
That is decreased within the lesser settings, however even then, clean driving wasn’t simple. And stepping away from the mark is somewhat sudden too.
Audi A1 e-tron first drive, Berlin
Speaking with the site visitors
One of many A1 e-tron’s cleverest options is its potential to speak with the town round it.
A type of expertise that’ll little question be showing throughout manufacturing vehicles within the coming years, the e-tron is aware of simply what the following site visitors sign is about to do, and shows it on the small instrument display screen in entrance of you.
Thus, if you happen to strategy a inexperienced mild however the automotive is aware of you will not make it by way of earlier than it turns purple, it alerts you–allowing you to decelerate early to avoid wasting power.
Likewise, when sitting at a purple mild it shows simply how lengthy the sunshine has to go, so you’ll be able to sit again and chill out till the ultimate few seconds.
Intelligent, flawed, and missed
It is an actual disgrace that Audi hasn’t continued with the e-tron as any greater than a check automobile present in fleets throughout Germany.
The rotary range-extending engine is an endearing idea, as attention-grabbing from an engineering standpoint as it’s sensible for its clean, quiet traits.
As a package deal it is a good little automotive to drive, even when the rotary automotive’s improvement was reduce down in its prime and means the automotive is not fairly as clean to drive as different electrical vehicles we have examined.
Beforehand, price was cited as the rationale for the A1 e-tron being canned. At round $50,000 per automobile, it merely would not have been a viable automotive for Audi to supply.
Nonetheless, talking with Audi on the occasion it was additionally instructed that inside disagreements led to the mission being canned. What these disagreements might need been we won’t ensure, however they’ve killed a promising little range-extended electrical automobile.
Extra promisingly, it is unlikely Audi has merely discarded what it is realized from the A1 e-tron, and similar to the R8 e-tron supercar, these applied sciences can be heading in direction of real manufacturing electrical automobiles just like the A3 e-tron.
Audi offered airfare, lodging, meals and refreshments to allow us to carry you this first-person drive report
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