It was of course only a matter of time that the agile Audi A1 was to be equipped with a more powerful version of the formidable 1,4 litre four cylinder petrol engine, and indeed, we had the pleasure to take the 185 horsepower S line TSFI for a very enjoyable test drive.
We need not to tell very much more about the excellent finish, ergonomics and quality of this benjamin of the Audi family, we will rather comment here how the car handles and drives under all this power…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Sliding behind the wheel, we pushed the starting button, put the chromed S-tronic gear lever in the “D” position and drove out of the Press Car Park of the AudiContactCenter at Erps Kwerps.
We have to admit, we have grown very fond of the Audi A1, and it was already a pleasure to be behind the wheel of this car. This time we were immediately impressed by the smoothness of the engine and gearbox when driving the car sedately back to Brussels using the back roads around Zaventem airport, hitting the Brussels Ring Road at a spot where most traffic bottlenecks are avoided.
The gearbox makes optimal use of the good torque characteristics of the engine, and the engine itself is ever so smooth at these low revs, leaving the driver with the distinct impression of power being at hand at the slightest blip of the throttle. Indeed, when pushing the right foot a bit deeper, the engine emits a very refined but decidedly sporting deep growl, and pushes the Audi dynamically forward. Lifting the throttle again, the A1 coasts silently in the highest possible gear along theBrussels boulevards. Power and refinement, they go certainly very much hand in hand in this Audi.
Hitting the winding country roads beneath Brussels, we unleashed all the power, leaving the lever in D, initially not even choosing the “Sports” mode. Flooring the throttle indeed proved enough. The Audi catapulted smoothly forward under the beautiful staccato of its four cylinder thoroughbred engine, the gearbox having chosen the proper gear with velvet efficiency, and we saw the big needle of the rev counter hit the red line for some milliseconds, after which the box had changed up already. What a delight!
Under all this power, the pilot just has to hold the wheel a bit firmer, also when driving in a straight line, as some torque reactions are felt in the lower gears. When lifting the throttle, the car soon returns again to a sedate and economical cruising mode, choosing the highest gear possible.
To keep engine and gearbox in (full) song, one is advised to choose the “S” mode. The box then keeps the engine in the higher rev zones even at (very) partial throttle openings, and the A1 is now delightfully agile, enhanced by its precise steering and handling.
Of course one is also tempted to use the gear change paddles sitting at both sides of the steering column, being ideally at hand. You can keep engine power and revs now right where you want it, and drive the car in your very own (sporting) style. When the going gets very fast and demands the very most of your driving talents, it is good to know that the system is very forgiving.
It prevents you at all times from over revving the engine, will change up for you when you forget to do it, and when you change down inadvertedly in a very low gear, it will delay the downshift until the engine is happy with it.
Of course, the engine revs are kept up nicely when making down changes, the automatic short and sharp blip of the throttle to adapt the engine revs to the lower gear is then such a delight to hear…
The wonderful 1,4 litre double overhead cam engine has an impressively flat torque curve, with 250 Nm being available from 2000 to 4500 rpm. The maximum power of 136 kW is reached at 6200 rpm. The performance figures are of course impressive: acceleration from 0 to 100 takes merely 6,9 seconds, top speed is 227 km. Adopting a sporting, yet very responsible driving style, the average consumption hovered around the 6 litre mark and it was quite easy to bring this down to 5,5 litres.
The Audi A1 gives formidable driving pleasure with this beautiful 185 HP engine. The chassis, transmission and suspension cope very well with the power, and the car is a delight to own and drive in daily use. Of course, the quality of workmanship, the excellent transmission, which no doubt sets the standards in its class, are all (very) good reasons to take a close look at this Audi when deciding to by a sporting compact four-seater.
Hans Knol ten Bensel