2014 Audi SQ5 - First Drive, September 2013Enlarge Photo
The world loves its SUVs, but SUVs aren't best known for loving the world back.
These big hulking behemoths are often accused of being a catalyst for climate change, and it's true that efficiency isn't the SUV's strong point. But people like them regardless. So what to do?
If you're Audi, you join companies like Nissan with its Juke and MINI with its Countryman and develop a more efficient, compact crossover, the Q1.
According to Auto Express, just such a car is expected to appear in early 2016, marking the entry point for Audi's off-road-style Q range, topped by one of those aforementioned behemoths, the Q7.
Like most small crossovers, the Q1 is expected to offer front-wheel drive only for most models, though Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system could be an option on range-toppers. The new car will sit on the Volkswagen Group's MQB architecture--the same that underpins cars like the Volkswagen Golf--yet tout smaller proportions than the Nissan Juke.
Engines should be shared with the next generation of Audi's A1 city car. Auto Express suggests a three-cylinder, turbocharged 1.0-liter unit could sit at the bottom of the range (based on the unit used in the Volkswagen Up), with 1.2, 1.4 and 1.6-liter gasoline engines and a brace of diesel TDIs--both 1.4 and 1.6 liters in capacity.
Most relevant here is the possibility of a 1.4-liter plug-in hybrid model. As VW's MQB platform is also used in Audi's own A3, a development of the A3 e-tron's plug-in drivetrain could appear in the Q1.
What isn't as clear is whether such a model would be sold in the U.S. Audi has declined to sell the A1 on American shores, instead selling the A3 executive compact as its smallest model. Perhaps America's love of the SUV--both large and small--could convince it otherwise.