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Audi decided to hide a very enviro/green/futuristic powertrain beneath the body of a car which should become the A1. Designed to compete against Mini, a company owned by Audi’s cross-country rival BMW, the Metroproject Quattro features a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine which sends its 150 bhp to the front wheels.

Power sent to the rear wheels is provided by a 41 horsepower electric motor. This Audi can be plugged in to an electrical outlet at your house, just like the future Chevrolet Volt. The lithium-ion battery is presumed capable of 100km without firing the 1.4L gasoline-fed engine.

All the mechanical stuff is out of sight, of course. On the exterior side of things, Mini Cooperesque cuteness is thrown to the wayside in favour of Audi’s aggressive grille, wide tires on 18″ wheels, and a high-class chrome treatment on the window surround. It’s all very Audi; which is to say modern, unique, and sporting.

Copying the Mini would have spelled disaster. Downsizing the A3 would have spelled bland. Whether you like it or not; whether you wish to plug your car into your garage or not – you must admit Audi styled a striking small car with a trick card up its sleeve. An environmentally-friendly solution in what must surely be a lightweight and ‘clean’ car to begin with scores big points in 2007. I doubt that fact will change by 2009 when A1’s arrive in European showrooms.