ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: AUDI A1
Everything Audi, but smaller – DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says the German carmaker has hit the nail on the head with its new A1 range.
LESS is more, or so they say, but having just spent a very enjoyable week at the wheel of Audi’s new baby, I have to say that I concur.
The A1 may look as though it has shrunk in the wash, but it’s unmistakably Audi, whether you’re looking at the LED running lights at the front of the car, or the rather uninspiring interior, which is, well, pretty much the same as any other Audi.
It turns heads too, of all ages, which I found slightly surprising, but proves that Audi has got it exactly right with this car. Often accused of creating models for the sake of it, like the A7 Sportback, which fills a gap in the very extensive range which most observers wouldn’t have even noticed was there in the first place, the German manufacturer seems to have got it exactly right with the A1.
Modern, stylish, customisable to your own taste and pocket, and very attractively priced for what is unquestionably a good quality car, Audi has lapped up heaps of praise from the motoring press, but more importantly customers themselves, many of whom will buy one as a second, or even third car.
There’s a good choice of petrol or diesel engines to pick from, plus three trim grades, SE, Sport and S line.
I have spent the last few days playing with this very smart Misano Red model, powered by a 1.4-litre engine which delivers performance that belies it relatively small size. I’m a big fan of the Golf GTI. Having owned one myself many years ago, it was the first proper car that I had and has therefore always held a special place in my heart. I loved that car. It was finished in Mars Red, a colour quite similar to the bright red paintwork of this A1, but it was more than the colour that made me link the two.
The performance is also quite similar, although the Golf had a 1.8-litre engine and this version of the A1 has a 1.4-litre engine, it demonstrates just how far the technology has moved on in recent years. The 0-62mph sprint is despatched in 8.9 seconds and it has top speed of 126mph, but unlike my lovely Golf of early Eighties vintage, the A1’s will return better fuel consumption figures than even diesel cars of that era could achieve, with over 64mpg claimed on the extra urban cycle, and 53.3mpg on the combined cycle.
My test which included quite a bit of town work, and a run up to North Yorkshire and back at a fairly “enjoyable” pace on quiet, but entertaining roads covering around 225 miles, saw a return of 36.5mpg. No doubt, a more sedate pace would have seen that figure rise considerably, but I did enjoy myself.
With very powerful cars, the performance is almost effortless – you don’t need to stir the gearbox too much to extract the performance, and it really is almost a case of point and squirt for the driver. For these reasons, less powerful cars, which need more effort and thought about what you are doing, to time overtakes correctly, and be in the right gear at the right time for corners, are much more involving to drive, and this is what I enjoyed so much with this car. It is quite quick, but you have to work a bit to get the best out of it. When you do, it’s a truly engaging little car. The handling is good, with plenty of grip through long sweeping bends, even when the road surface is less than perfect, there are few dramas, and whole experience is accompanied by a rorty soundtrack which we are led to believe comes from the exhaust, but which actually comes from a sound generator in the engine bay – yes, really! It does work though, and adds to the sporting theme.
Inside, there is room for four/five people at a squeeze, but rear tall occupants will find it a bit of a squeeze.
The boot is a reasonable size for the car, and the back seats can be folded down to increase luggage space when needed.
Equipment levels are reasonable, and include an engine start/stop system to reduce fuel consumption, alloys, air con, a CD player with MP3 compatability and ESP with a differential lock system.
Audi has an extensive options list which they like you to tick to personalise your car and then pay a lot more for it, so think carefully about what you really need. I liked the silver stripe around the edge of the roof, for example, but it will cost you £350!
Trendy, fun and engaging to drive, I believe the A1 will be a big hit for Audi. An impressive collection of awards from the motoring press prove that it’s got off to a great start already.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport.
AUDI A1 RANGE: From 1.2 TFSI SE 3dr (£13,420) to 1.4 TFSI S line (185ps) S tronic 3dr (£20,705).
ENGINE: 1390cc, 122PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 124g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 126mph. 0-62mph in 8.9 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 41.5mpg.
Fuel tank: 45 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 15.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.