The Upcoming Audi A1
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Posted 14 October 2007 - 09:16 PM
We suspect youʼll be seeing these photos coming at you from numerous automotive websites within a few hours, and well you should. Amid rampant speculation that Audi is pushing last-minute changes to the design of their upcoming A1 compact, expected to debut next week at the Tokyo Motor Show, we humbly present you with an alternative take by independent designer Gabriel Rabhi – a story the artist has most generously shared with Audi enthusiasts first via this website.
You might remember Rabhi as a previous focus of Fourtitudeʼs Independent Design Focus series, having created an eye-catching impression of Audiʼs upcoming A7 four-door coupe. The French CGI artist, video game and graphical programmer first shared initial drawings of his take on the A1 at that time. Since then, Gabriel has rendered the car so extensively that heʼs been able to show much more than the stationary shots provided of the A7. With the A1, studio images are joined by action shots of the car, with several familiar colors from Audiʼs own palette sampled.
Of course, we all know that the A1 is coming. Audi executives have made mention of the car, and Volkswagen Polo bodied mules have been spied testing near the companyʼs home in Ingolstadt. Given the certainty of the new model, the French designer moved ahead with his own project to develop an A1 design.
Where should he start? Rabhi explains:
"The Audi A1 is a small, low cost car that will be on the same market as the Mini. The Mini is a neo retro car based on the original Mini Cooper. The A1 must be classic, larger, with a personality that can seduce lot of people. Itʼs a very high design challenge. As a low cost car, the freedom in the design is reduced by production cost: small wheels, classical architecture, and the VW Polo platform on which it will probably based.”
“I think key point is the urban philosophy. This car must be attractive, feministic, sympathetic, and not too aggressive, not to complicated but classic. It must look like a practical toy, with an image of youth and distinction. It must remain in Audi design distinction and language but reach the target of a small urban car cost.”
“All of these constraints make me define a car that is compliant with the Polo platform, with particular proportions that are specific to the near future Audi language. The design is also inspired by the Shooting Break concept car.”
As you can see, Rabhiʼs design is dynamic and consistent with Audiʼs own visual language. The headlights share a shape not far from the B7 A4, though more vertically positioned. The A1ʼs two-tone paintwork is dynamic, like a MINI, but more consistent with whatʼs been seen on the last-generation TT quattro Sport. From the rear, a family resemblance to the Audi Sport Brake concept is clear.
Just this week, reports from Automotive News shared details of Audiʼs concerns over the actual design of the car. A concept version is planned for next weekʼs Tokyo Motor Show says the industry magazine, however certain executives reportedly believe it may be too radical for production and changes might have to be made before the company begins expected series production in 2009.
A design recently shared with members of the press by Audi AGʼs own studios shows a look more radical and in a wholly different direction than Rabhiʼs A1. The Ingolstadt-sourced design features a rounded hood that continues the two-tone theme, as well as a sloped coupe-like roofline. Given this drawing came via Ingolstadt in a controlled release, it may not be far off from what weʼll see shortly on a show stand in Japan.
We recently had a chance to question Audi AG boss Rupert Stadler about the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show regarding possible U.S. sale. It turns out, the car has been engineered with the U.S. in mind, though Stadler thinks market conditions would have to change and Americaʼs appetite for more luxurious compact cars would need to improve before the A1 would make business sense. Translation: The option is there, though nothing has been decided as of yet. Thatʼs better than “no”.
It isnʼt the first time Audi has entered the compact market. This will be the third time actually, and quite in the spirit of the first attempt. In the 1970ʼs, Audi sold what was effectively a re-badged Volkswagen Polo with an Audi grille dubbed the Audi 50. In the ʽ90s, it returned to the segment with the A2 - an all-aluminum car that was technologically impressive but considerably overpriced due to its aluminum space frame. Neither benefited from quattro.
With the new car, Audi will again dip into the more cost-effective steel chassis component set of the Volkswagen Polo, though youʼll be hard pressed to spot any perceivable similarities. High-ranking sources within Audi tell us that quattro will be possible thanks to the same Haldex system utilized in the A3 and TT, and Audi engines will likely get higher power figures than their VW cousins.
Actual photography of the A1 could come any day if rumors of the Tokyo launch prove reliable. Until then, enjoy the numerous shots of Rabhiʼs A1 via our own photo gallery and the artistʼs website portfolio. Both are linked below.
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