Current Trends in Small Cars - Small is Big

Audi e-Tron
Yes, the sexy two-seat electric sports car unveiled at Detroit has the same name as the two-seat electric sports car that Audi showed at Frankfurt last fall. But whereas the previous car was obviously a tweaked Audi R8, this latest E-tron is dramatically smaller, with standout styling all its own. Two electric motors drive the rear wheels and are powered by a mid-mounted lithium-ion battery. The car uses aluminum-spaceframe construction with composite body panels. Audi claims a curb weight of 2976 pounds (60 percent of which is over the rear wheels) and a 0-to-62-mph time of 5.9 seconds. Although Audi has said it plans a limited production run of the R8-based E-tron, no such statements were forthcoming regarding this car, but executives did hint that they are considering a range of E-tron offerings. The show car's crowd-stopping good looks, mid-mounted powerplant, and compact dimensions had others excited at the prospect that this E-tron could in fact be a first look at the long-rumored R4 mid-engine sports car. This more affordable coupe/roadster would slot below the R8 in the lineup and would be twinned with versions for Volkswagen and Porsche.

On sale: Sometime . . . maybe
What's the big deal? Could be a preview of a new, small R4 mid-engine sports car.
Stats: Rear-wheel drive, two electric motors, 204 hp, 0 to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds

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