Audi's radical new urban concepts have been unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show.
Constructed in both coupe and spyder guises, the urban concept is described by Audi as a developmental study that is being used by a team of in-house designers, engineers and electrical experts to explore new avenues in styling, small car packaging, ultra lightweight construction and driveline efficiency.
Combining cues from basic German bubble cars such as the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller and more contemporary aerospace design, the two urban concepts use a common central tub to which Audi has attached a race car style pushrod suspension that supports outboard mounted 21-inch wheels.
In coupe form it receives a canopy that automatically retracts back to reveal a snug two seat cabin featuring staggered seating. The spyder receives a cut down windscreen and partial side windows in a move reminiscent of Audi’s E-Tron spyder concept. Various details, including the triangular shape of the headlamps, is said to mirror that of future Audi models.
At 3200mm in length, 1700mm in width and 1200mm in height, the plug in electric city cars are 505mm longer, 140mm wider and 340mm lower than the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Based around a carbon fibre monocoque, they are also claimed to weigh under 500kg – or less than half that of Audi’s current entry level model, the A1 1.2 TFSI.
Powering the low slung urban concepts is a 15kW brushless electric motor mounted at the rear and providing drive to the rear wheels. It draws energy from an lithium ion battery pack, providing each of the urban concepts with a range that Audi officially puts at between 31 miles (50km) and 37 miles (60km) – sufficient, claims the German car maker, to meet the needs of most city commuters.
Performance is described as being equal to that of existing superminis, with 0-37mph (60km/h) in 6.3sec. To protect battery charge, top speed is limited to 62mph (100km/h).
Although Audi has already denied claims it is pursuing a car along the lines of the urban concept for series production, it says lessons learnt in its construction will have a positive rub off effect on its more traditional models. "Just as our earlier Avus concept led to the creation of our first aluminium space frame model, the urban concept is forging the way forward for carbon fibre in volume production," an insider revealed.