Modern-day Messerschmitt concept could have a production future — as an NSU
10 August 2011

Following Autocar's scoop pics of an all-new Audi city car on Monday, Audi has released a series of official sketches depicting an urban concept car that is set to be unveiled at next month’s Frankfurt motor show as part of a new city mobility project.

The new two-seater, referred to simply as the Audi Urban Concept, brings together contemporary design, construction, packaging and driveline ideas on a compact city runabout reminiscent of the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller.

Read more about Autocar's scoop on the new Audi concept city car

The Urban Concept is based around a central carbonfibre monocoque, which supports four individual 21-inch wheels mounted outboard and covered by complex cycle guards. But in a move aimed at quashing rumours that it is based around the same structure as parent company Volkswagen’s similarly conceived XL1, Audi says the new car is “not based on any previous model”.

The exterior styling combines various elements of Audi’s current design language, including a prominent single-frame grille, trapezoidal-shaped headlamps and a ‘tornado’ line beneath the glasshouse, with new aero industry-inspired cues, including a pillarless wraparound windscreen.

Entry is via a jet fighter-like canopy that slides towards the rear. The canopy forms part of the body sides, but Audi’s official sketches reveal that there is a high sill to negotiate.

Inside, there is space for two on low-set, slightly staggered seats in a layout that Audi describes as 1+1. Although spartan in appearance, the interior is constructed from high-quality materials, including carbonfibre and aluminium.

The dashboard, shaped like an aeroplane wing, appears to form an integral part of the structure and supports a square steering wheel and pedals that can be adjusted to suit.

Audi is not revealing much about the concept’s driveline or performance prior to its unveiling in Frankfurt, saying only that it uses two electric motors and a lithium ion battery.

Further details remain scarce, but Autocar can reveal that Audi is preparing other, less extravagant versions of its new Urban Concept, which it also plans to put on display in Frankfurt in a bid to gauge public reaction before deciding whether it should progress them further.

Recent rumours in the German automotive industry have linked Audi to a new city car brand in the mould of Mercedes-run Smart. Suggestions are that it could resurrect the NSU nameplate on a new range of urban-based models hinted at by its latest concept. NSU, purchased by then Audi parent Auto Union in 1969, was once the world’s leading producer of motorcycles.

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