Sound the purist alarm, Audi has announced that it has completely sold out and will produce the tiny Q1 crossover. As if the Q3 wasn’t small enough, the Q1 will fit the bill as a challenger to four-wheeled micro-crossovers bearing the Mini and Fiat logos.

Maybe that was a bit dramatic, but I am certain that a large group of people let out a collective “what the…” with this confirmation. Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the super-small crossover segment is heating up, particularly in Europe, and Audi is trying to get in before anyone else.

Neither BMW nor Mercedes have anything quite this small in their crossover segments, as the X1 and GLA-Class are both more in the class of the Q3.

So, what in the world will the Q1 be and what will it offer buyers?

Updated 05/15/2015: While all we have so far on the Audi Q1 is pure speculation, we decided to create a rendering of what we think the Q1 might look like.

Continue reading my speculative preview on the 2016 Q1 to find out.

  • 2016 Audi Q1
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    1.4 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    8 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    120 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Rendering

2016 Audi Q1 Exclusive Renderings
- image 630409

Spy Shots

July 20, 2015 - first testing session

2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 637535
2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 637537
2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 637539

May 12, 2015 - Audi Q1 Mule caught testing

2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 629856
2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 629859
2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 629862

Exterior

2016 Audi Q1 Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 371523

Note: rendering
The looks of the Q1 are still not etched in stone, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Audi’s design language. Look for all of the standard cues to be in place, including the Singleframe grille, the new Audi lighting design, and Audi’s signature timeless appearance.

An exact size is hard to peg for the Q1, but given the Q3 is a step above it in size and it is 172.6 inches long, I look for the Q1 to be closer to the 156.4-inch length of the Audi A1 Sportback. Audi may stretch the Q1 out to 160 to 163 inches, but there needs to be a significant enough size gap between the Q1 and Q3 to make it work.

Interior

2015 Audi A1 Interior
- image 577647

Note: Audi A1 interior image
Given its positioning in the crossover realm, look for Audi to start the Q1 with lower-than-expected interior quality. I am not saying that Audi will skimp out on the Q1, but it needs to remain competitive with the models already in place. Unfortunately, the closest models to it in the luxury segment are too large, so it needs to align with sub-luxury models from Fiat and Mini.

For a good idea of what to expect in terms of standard interior quality, look at the A1 SE. It comes with cloth seating, a fairly simple audio system, and a smattering of premium tech gizmos, but nothing on the scale we are used to from Audi here in the U.S.

Drivetrain

The powertrain options are still unconfirmed, but reports indicate that it’ll use a series of 1.4-liter diesel and gasoline engines. The 1.4-liter gasoline engine will likely arrive with around 125 to 150 horsepower, while the TDI model will likely have around 120 ponies and around 175 foot-pounds of torque.

There are also whispers of an SQ1 with a 230-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and a plug-in hybrid model.

Shifting duties will be handled by either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven=speed dual-clutch transmission. Like the A1, the Q1 will come standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive will be an option.

Prices

The chances of the Q1 making it to the U.S. are slim to none, but if it did, it would likely check in at around $25,000. In the UK, look for prices to start at around £20,000.

Competitors

Mini Countryman

2015 Mini Countryman High Resolution Exterior
- image 549133

When thinking tiny SUVs, the Mini Coutryman should be one of the first models to come to mind. The Countryman has undergone some changes over the years, and it now looks more SUV-like than ever, but it is still very much a Mini. It’ll likely be good for about the same power as the Q1, thanks to its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 121, 181, or 208 horsepower, depending on the trim. Its prices in the U.S. start from $22,750 and range up to $35,350 for the John Cooper Works model.

Read our full review here.

Fiat 500X

2016 - 2018 Fiat 500X High Resolution Exterior
- image 579065

Another tiny crossover that only recently debuted is the Fiat 500X. With the looks and quirkiness of the 500 and the performance of a light crossover, the 500X is a good option for crowded cities. Thanks to its standard 160-horsepower 1.4-liter engine, the 500X seems plenty powerful in its base form here in the U.S., but its range-topping 2.4-liter with just 184 horsepower leaves a big gap between it and the Countryman JCW and the SQ1.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

The Q1 may seem like a waste to some folks, but to others it will be exactly what they need. These types of small crossovers give buyers a little extra ground clearance without needing steps to get in, and they typically at least have optional all-wheel drive for adverse conditions without driving like a traditional SUV. With Audi being the first true luxury automaker to hit this segment head on, it is getting a nice jump on its German rivals. For now, it appears as if neither Mercedes nor BMW have any plans to build crossovers smaller than the GLA-Class and X1, respectively, so Audi may have this market cornered for quite some time.

  • Leave it
    • Could be too narrow of a niche
    • Unlikely to make its way to the U.S.
    • Low-power base engine

Press Release

There is to be an addition to Audi’s Q model family. The Board of Management and the Works Council of AUDI AG today announced that a new model will roll off the assembly lines in Ingolstadt as of 2016: the Q1.

“The Audi Q1 is part of our broad-based SUV strategy. It is designed on the basis of the modular transverse engine concept and will round off our Q series at the bottom end,” stated Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. As an attractive entry into the Q family, the new model will make a strong contribution to the company’s ongoing growth and will strengthen its international competitiveness. Audi is continuing its model offensive with the Q1; by 2020, the automaker will expand its product range from the current 49 to more than 60 models. By then, Audi will reach total unit sales of more than two million automobiles each year.

The decision to produce the new model will help to secure utilization of capacity at the main plant in Ingolstadt over the long term. At this site, Audi produces models in the A and B segments, namely the A3 and A3 Sportback and the A4/A5 family. Peter Mosch, Chairman of the General Works Council, welcomes the decision: “This is a clear commitment to Ingolstadt as a production site. We will continue to make all efforts to develop the plant even further as the leading technological site of the Audi Group.” The decision on the new model is regarded as proof that employee codetermination secures jobs and that the internationalization of the Audi group is not taking place at the expense of the sites in Germany.

The Q family currently comprises the Audi Q3, RS Q3, Q5, SQ5 and Q7. The Q5 is the global market leader in its direct competitive environment. This year, Audi had already delivered 194,430 units of the Q5 to customers by the end of October, which is 17 percent more than in the prior-year period. Approximately 230,000 units of this model are planned to be built in 2013, which is more than half of the total Q volume. The proportion of the company’s total production volume accounted for by SUVs will be about 28 percent this year, and is planned to rise to more than 35 percent by 2020. Overall, Audi has produced and delivered to customers more than 1.5 million automobiles of the Q family since the market launch of the first SUV in 2006.

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