The Audi A1 has certainly won many hearts since its introduction: indeed, everybody who is looking for style, premium finish and driving pleasure in the compact segment has taken a long look at this Audi, and has bought it, or plans to do so in the future. The choice will now even be wider: the four dour version, introduced at the latest Tokyo Motor Show, is already quite a few months among us. Read our driving impressions….
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Different and very distinctive looks
The new Audi A1 Sportback is several millimetres wider and taller than its three-door sister model, offering 11 millimetres (0.43 in) more headroom and more comfortable access to the rear seat. The car looks just as good, and some may find even better. The design is now actually more mature, more complete.
The proper style of the new five door Sportback is also accentuated in the colour concept.
The contrasting finish includes the entire roof and not just the roof arch.
As in the “normal” A1, it pays to spend some time behind your PC and go carefully through the car configurator, and get that colour and wheel/trim combination which makes your A1 just look superb.
The increased rear headroom lets two adults sit properly in the rear of the car, and then there might be room for a small grown up in the middle.
The finish of the interior is really beyond reproach, and can be defined as one of the very best in the compact class. Actually, the finish levels are top notch across the whole Audi range, right down to the A1.
The boot space is adequate, and with rear seats folded down stand their own against the Mini Clubman for instance. The rear seats do not fold down completely flat, but this is no major issue actually. When testing the car, we were in the midst of a house move, and we could use the carrying capacity of “our” Audi very well…
We already said much about the ride, handling and comfort of the A1. The car feels just “right” in many instances, and we just like the comfort and suspension setup of the base level versions. When you step up the equipment levels, the suspension gets harder, without ever becoming obtrusive.
We drove the excellent 1,6 litre TDI engine again, and also this time it did not fail to impress us with its excellent torque characteristics, its willingness to deliver power at the slightest movement of the right foot.
Despite its excellent injection and fine tuned combustion when cold, it does not reach the uncanny smoothness of the petrol engine(s), and we suggest that at least you should drive the A1 of your choice also with a petrol engine, even the 1.2 litre “base” version is just amazing, and the way it delivers its power certainly adds extra character to the car.
What remains is the frugality of theTDI engine. It was not difficult to stay well below the 5 litre/100 km mark, even when driving in dense town traffic. The secret is using low revs, as is now well known. Just obeying the gear change indication(s) gets you quite rewarding consumption results.
The feel one gets behind the wheel of the A1 is Audi in its pure(st) form: classic round dials, everything being within reach in the cabin, firm, excellent and widely adjustable seats, giving you an ideal seating position, even when you are quite tall.
The controls all have that good “quality feel” about them, and inspire confidence. The choice and composition of the chosen materials is also excellent to say the least, as we said earlier.
You want all the things which make Audi’s so great and timelessly desirable in compact form? Well just take a long look at the A1, and take it for a (test) drive. You will be convinced… and you are at the start of quite a few years of pure driving pleasure!
Just keep looking at our colums, as A1 driving will not be over soon. We are looking forward to test the new 1.4 TFSI with 103 kW (140 hp), which will follow at a later date, is particularly interesting.
When operating at part load, the cylinder on demand system deactivates two cylinders. This reduces the average fuel consumption to below five litres per 100 km (47.04USmpg). We are very anxious to drive this one for you…
Hans Knol ten Bensel