As luxury automakers focus more on how to extend their brand into smaller packages that maintain the prestige and performance of their larger models, Audi has a few advantages.
Its new 2011 Audi A1 subcompact hatchback can draw on the full experience of its parent, Volkswagen Group, while selling for much more money than the 2011 Volkswagen Polo that's roughly the same size.
Teasing Justin Timberlake
We don't know for sure that the 2011 Audi A1 is headed for the States, but it will debut in March at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. Audi has already released an official teaser and announced that singer Justin Timberlake will star in an Internet campaign for the 2011 A1 next spring.
Now, our sister site Motor Authority has published a photo of the Audi A1 and Timberlake, taken during a video shoot in Los Angeles. It clearly shows the car's LED headlights, an expensive feature that indicate this is meant to be a prestigious and pricey hot hatchback.
Audi brand ambassador Justin Timberlake
In Europe, many models
In Europe, the A1 will come in three-door and five-door models, along with a convertible and perhaps even a crossover version. Gasoline and diesel engines options overseas will run from 1.2 to 1.6 liters, and the highest-performance "S" model could produce as much as 200 horsepower.
The 2011 Audi A1 has been shown in two different concept versions. The first was the Metroproject Quattro hybrid concept from the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, followed by the Audi A1 Sportback Hybrid Concept at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
Those concepts indicate that Audi may also offer a mild hybrid A1 model. The Sportback Hybrid Concept featured a 150-horsepower, 1.4-liter engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic manual gearbox, and a 20-kilowatt (27-hp) electric motor. When combined with a stop-start system, Audi quoted fuel efficiency as high as 60 miles per gallon.
In the hybrid concept, the electric motor propels the car for up to 60 miles at lower speeds (up to 60 mph). Under higher loads, it assists the gasoline engine. While the concept's lithium-ion battery pack can be plugged in to recharge it, a production Audi A1 hybrid wouldn't be a plug-in.
Coming to the U.S.?
While it's still speculation, we think the A1 could well be offered in North America. Last September, Audi executive Peter Schwarzenbauer said selling the A1 here would help in achieving an ambitious goal: making more cars globally by 2015 than either BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
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