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Light rail, urban lofts and mixed-use developments are popping up across any and all historically urban/suburban landscapes. Credit goes to a variety of factors, and include the higher cost of commuting, the desire for twenty-somethings to delay both families and backyards, and the intrinsically more interesting landscape afforded by downtowns and bars open late. Into this revitalized urban arena drives Audi and its urban concept technology study. Notably, the end result of this new concept is smaller than its title.

The question - How much car is necessary to deliver driving pleasure and urban mobility in an entirely new way? - was the starting point in the urban concept's development. We're told a model sailplane was in the studio during the development process, reinforcing the guiding principle of 'less is more.' (Of course, they might also have displayed a Morgan Trike, BMW Isetta or Lotus Seven for similar - and arguably more relevant - inspiration.) The end result is a contemporary take on a minimalistic four-wheeler, with just enough room for two, a hyper-efficient drivetrain and Audi's typically high levels of fit and finish.

The concept's body profile was inspired, at least in part, by the Auto Union racecars of the 1930s. With an overall length of just 126 inches, and standing just 66 inches wide, the urban concept's footprint isn't much bigger than a twin bed. To more easily meet the width requirements, seating is offset - an idea we wish the airlines would take as their own. And the car's canopy can be closed or open, supplying weather protection or wind in your hair, all at no additional cost. A Spyder convertible has also been developed, for warmer climates or your seaside rental.

Under the 'hood' sits a lithium-ion battery driving two electric motors. They, in turn, are connected to a single-speed transmission. While taking a reported 17 seconds from 0-62 mph, a more relevant figure - 0-37 mph - comes up in just six seconds. What Audi terms the 'action radius' (also known as the vehicle's range) is roughly 45 miles, and the battery can be recharged completely - using a 400-volt three-phase current - in just twenty minutes. Ausgezeichnet!


See more coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.


DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.
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