With the very good looking A1, Audi is making literally an entry with style into a new car class. Needless to say the car has been an instant hit amongst buyers… who are now waiting in line for “their” A1.
We drove the Audi with the 1,6 litre 77 kW (105 hp) TDI engine, which will this year be accompanied by a 90 hp version of the same engine. We can tell you here already that the car drives, handles, performs like a little gem, or, shall we say, a true Audi?
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Sporty and compact with style…
Stepping into the car one is surprised to find the roominess and ‘cabin feel’ of a ‘big’ Audi, at least on the front seats. This impression is even more pronounced when one sits on the front passenger seat.
The instrument panel resembles an airplane wing, but breathes also the typical Audi ‘facture’: its four round air vents are reminiscent of jet engines. The clean, clear controls are every bit a classic Audi strength as the superior workmanship. Many lovingly designed details underscore the premium character of the A1. Our test car sported the Ambition trim line. It features standard an on-board computer with efficiency program and shift indicator.
Needless to say the A1 I is a very good looking compact car. The design with the encircling shoulder line integrates the youngest Audi into the four ringed model family.
The front end with the dominating single-frame grille, the side line with the distinctive roof arch, the coupé-like C-pillars and the large wheel arches are typical style elements for the A1, and make the car look sleek despite its less than 4 metres body length (3.95 meters (12.96 ft) to be exact). The hood and the rear hatch wrap around the body, adding a further dynamic touch.
Already from the first meters behind the wheel, the Audi A1 feels unmistakably solid, and steers very precise. No small wonder if one knows that high- and ultra high-strength steels comprise two-thirds of the new compact model’s body.
The strongest of these are the hot-shaped steels, which draw their extremely high tensile strength from a dramatic temperature increase during the shaping process. These hot-shaped steels are used primarily in the passenger cell. They are indeed the basis for the precise, sporty handling, the good comfort, the quiet interior and the excellent passive safety of the A1.
Its road holding and handling make it one of the sportiest Audi’s, and indeed, on every type of open road the small Audi truly excels. The direct-ratio steering adds to the fun. The ESP stabilization program with electronic limited slip differential, which comes standard on all A1 models, makes the handling even more precise while also enhancing driving safety.
This ESP program minimizes understeer when cornering at the limit by means of slight braking, distributing the power evenly over the front wheels. This also improves traction of course…
The engine proved quiet and vibrationless, with a very smooth clutch and gearbox. The Audi pilot has only five gears at his (her) disposal, but this is quite sufficient for good performance and economy. With the 105 HP engine, the A1 is certainly no sluggard: 190 kph top speed, and 0 to 100 km in merely 10,5 seconds, need we say more? Following the indications of the gearshift indicator, it was quite possible to reach the very low consumption figures in city driving, and indeed we consumed less than 5 litres/100 km in these conditions.
The Audi A1 certainly is a very convincing compact car, stylish, sporty and (very) frugal. In the coming months we will test the car with the 1.4 TSFI engine. Keep reading these columns!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Audi styling all over... including the typical "signature" of the headlamps...
and the sport seats of the "Ambition" trim, which envelop driver and passenger for some spirited cornering...