Audi A1 1.4TFSI S-Line Auto22 | 08 | 2010Scotcars rating

    New miniature Audi, the A1, is set to become its biggest-seller ... and it's good

    THE AUDI A1, a much-hyped car if ever there was one, will arrive in the Scotland via a rather circuitous and interesting journey including Ingolstadt and Tokyo. Ingolstadt's inclusion is obvious, being the German HQ of the manufacturer. Tokyo? Well the A1 was first seen at the Tokyo Motor Show two-and-a-half years ago as the metroproject quattro concept.

    One of the A1's strengths is the fact Audi has essentially carried over the vast bulk of the concept's designs into the full production model. This, Audi's smallest and cheapest model, is now set to become the biggest-selling model in its history. There's a feeling though this is a return to an area where Audi has been before. Remember the A2?

    Back in the late Nineties, Audi rocked the establishment with its last compact car. Beautifully and uniquely engineered, the all-aluminium A2 was so far ahead of people's expectations — and because of its reliance on aluminium, expensive — that it struggled to achieve its sales targets. By 2005, production had been halted.

    The strange thing is, A2s are now like hen's teeth and much in demand. Its brilliant combination of high build quality, performance, economy and versatility is just what today's driver needs. I know, because I've had a 2004 1.4TDI for two years; it's brilliant, and I wish I'd bought one earlier. Will the A1 carry the same desirous appeal in six years? Only time will tell.

    Certainly, unlike the A2, the A1 is a far safer corporate bet for Audi; prices start at £15,345 when it goes on sale in October. From launch there will be a choice from three engines: a 1.2 TFSI, a 1.4 TFSI and a 1.6 TDI. A 180bhp, turbo-and-supercharged hell-raising version will follow, probably next year.

    A1 raises the bar to a whole new level of sophistication and refinement

    Number of clever design touches

    Under the A1's cute looks, much of its DNA stems from the Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. The front-wheel-drive A1 shares its steel-based platform with all three. That though is no bad thing and, from a corporate perspective, highlights economies of scale within the Volkswagen Group necessary to keep A1 costs low.

    Stop and take a look at the A1 before you get in and you'll immediately identify a number of clever design touches which have migrated from larger models in the extensive Audi range. One, which falls into the Marmite conundrum — you'll either love or hate — are the ‘wing-design’ LED daytime running lights, such a familiar facial feature of new Audis.

    I put the range-topping 120bhp 1.4 TFSI model through its paces. Fitted with the optional seven-speed S Tronic gearbox, in S Line trim the A1 will set you back £18,280. But it's money well spent, believe me. Out on the road the A1 feels reassuringly bigger, and definitely more substantial, than its petite external dimensions. And considering its relationship with the Polo, et al, that's something of an achievement; but it should come as no surprise.

    While the Polo has previously set the benchmark, the A1 raises the bar to a whole new level of sophistication and refinement within its class. There's a definite 'big car' feel to the A1, so much so, in fact, that in many ways it actually feels like a mini-A3.

    Steer away from optional big alloys

    Despite the fact the A1's suspension is a little firmer than that found in the Polo, allied to the fact the body sits a little lower on the wide wheels, the little Audi has an inherent ability to nip round corners and curves as though it was glued to the road surface. It's something which is helped by the fact the wheels on the A1 are set more widely apart than the Polo's.

    Motorway cruising is a delight, aided by the fact the weight of the A1's steering is heavier than anything in its class — another clever touch which enhances the big car feel — and overall the ride is smooth, though I'd recommend you don't go for the optional big alloys; they just won't cope with Scotland's potholed roads.

    Inside the cabin, it's as you would expect; it exudes premium quality in the way that every Audi should. It may be the cheapest and smallest car in the range, but there's no question this is an Audi. In the front, all the touch-surfaces are expensive-feeling, smooth and solid, again highlighting the feeling of a premium world.

    I loved the MMI sat-nav which pops out of the top of the dash; neat and very stylish, the idea is one which could easily gravitate up through the rest of the Audi range. The A1, thanks to its efficient turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, will be cheap to run.

    Through the range, all models will return at least 50mpg, with the 1.6 TDI diesel giving you more than 70mpg. Standard kit too is impressive with all versions coming with alloy wheels, air conditioning and ESP stability control as standard.

    Stylish, chic and sophisticated it may be, but there's no denying the A1 is definitely an Audi in miniature.

    Craig James

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £18,280 / £19,110
    Engine / Power: 1398cc / 121bhp
    How fast?: 0-60 mph 8.9secs, Max 126mph
    How big/heavy?: H1400mm W1750mm L3990mm / 1125kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 54,3mpg / CO2 119g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: TBA / TBA
    Alternatives: Mini, VW Polo, Skoda Fabia, Citroen DS3

    User Comments

    Login or register to post comments.
    Send to friend
    Click here to add message:

Car Review Finder