Most people might not realize this, but Audi knows a thing or two about fuel efficiency. Its road cars don’t exactly break any new ground in this area, but it is by squeezing every last mile out of a tank of fuel that they have largely retained their dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now Audi’s plan is to at long last bring a bit more of this thinking to its road cars. The first step is a small city car, based on the A1 platform, which will achieve 282 mpg from a 1.0-liter engine. That’s quite a number, and it perhaps should be noted that this is based on European fuel economy ratings, which tend to be optimistic to the point of delusion. But even once we adjust to the more realistic EPA numbers which we use in the US, we’re still probably talking about a car that gets more than 200 mpg, and that is nothing to scoff at.
Audi hasn’t released much in the way of details, but Autocar managed to discover that this will not actually be related to the diesel-powered Volkswagen project, the XLR-1, another hyper-miler currently in the works. VW’s project is actually more or less complete, whereas the Audi project is still a good three years from being ready. Audi has also said that its project, currently referred to internally as the “1.0-liter car”, won’t concentrate as much on weight saving as VW did, although it won’t be completely ignored either. The interior is supposed to be much lighter than normal, and the suspension system will also weigh less. The body itself might be made out of a new kind of injection-molded carbon fiber, which is much faster to manufacture than carbon fiber which is made in the traditional fashion. The styling will apparently borrow much from the recent Crosslane concept.
The Audi will also be more affordable than the VW, if you can imagine it, and will seat four in the relative comfort expected from a small city car. It will also use some form of hybrid drivetrain, something else the superlight VW has had to avoid because of the heavy batteries. We’re very curious to see how these huge fuel efficiency numbers will be achieved, but we’re guessing that Audi will be guarding that secret very closely for as long as possible.