Being part of the VW Group, Audi is obligated to use many ‘shared’ Volkswagen parts in their automobiles, benefiting overall production costs. As a result of this, the A1 is in some forms a Polo in disguise (very well disguised, but still). Of course it’s more high-end, competing with the Mini Cooper S, which by the way feels about as fast as the A1 1.4 TFSI. Audi has managed to make a compact, fast, beautiful, a tad expensive hatchback with executive pretensions. Let’s take a look through the magnifying glass.
Yes, the new A1 is expensive, but it looks it too. The use of high-quality materials and a refined finish is definitely noticeable. The split-design of the body and top of the car looks very attractive, giving the idea the car has a real ‘cockpit’ instead of a cabin that is part of the car. Audi’s characteristic line pulled from the headlights to the back is just as beautiful on the A1 as it is on the A8, proving that Audi is sticking with their current design battle-plan. A sporty spoiler finishes the roofline with sophistication.
The distinctive striped Audi-headlights make you switch lanes to the right immediately when seeing them in your rear-view mirror. A cheeky bodykit and a small diffuser make the front very aggressive and racy. In addition, the Germans made the grill wider, giving the car a more stable look. With shiny 18″ rims and slim Bridgestone tires finishing it off, the A1 just looks very good.
As told before, the A1 has some very strong competition from the new Polo and, for instance, from the little Fabia, especially with its high price-tag. But where the Audi distinguishes itself clearly is it’s luxurious interior. In a class where overall cost is the main driver of design and finish, Audi is consciously bucking the trend. The feel is just amazing with its all-black finishing , flat-bottom steering wheel and comfortable bucket seats.
Audi did a great job on the dash, positioning the buttons and indicators conveniently, and making smart use of directive lighting. The 8-inch screen is easily operated by a single turning wheel on the middle of the dashboard.
Being a very small car, not much was to be expected from the backseat. Though with the room available, Audi did a decent job. They did cheat a little by stealing some space from the trunk and reclining the seats to allow for more head-room. Also, they decided to make it a four-seater instead of trying to cram 3 miniature-spaces in an already small car. Good call Audi.
Before even starting the car, it is clear that this car is exceptionally well built. The car meets the performance expectations perfectly. The undercarriage, thanks to its short wheel base, is put together with great precision and this is clearly noticeable when cornering. The body roll of the car is minimised by its low center of gravity and low overall weight. Due to this is, it does feel a little jumpy from now and then, not being able to put all the power through the wheels onto the asphalt. The steering feels light and very responsive, things we are accustomed to when it comes to driving Audi.
As a first, Audi introduced Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to choose for three distinctive driving modes: Efficiency, Auto and Dynamic. The difference is very noticeable. In Automatic mode the car distributes shift speed and throttle in the best way it sees fit, offering the driver the right combination of power and efficiency. Efficiency mode drastically decreases the jerkiness and eagerness of the car, the throttle response slows down together with the shift speed. And now, the fun bit: Dynamic mode. Boy did Audi create something special here. The A1 turns into a go-kart Lewis Hamilton would be envious of. Throttle response is almost instant and even the laggy gearbox steps its game. Though comfort does go down a bit since the drive roughens up.
The Engine & Transmission
It has to be said that the 1.4 TFSI is a brilliant engine. In addition to the single turbocharger it produces 122 bhp, but given it’s very low weight, it’s certainly enough for some fast driving. Its throttle response is fair to good, yet is not matched by the shifting speed of the 7-speed automatic S-tronic. Switching to semi-automatic by toggling the shift paddles doesn’t change much either, it’s just not up to par. This is surprising to see from Audi, who are normally flawless when it comes to their powertrain. In conclusion, the engine is absolutely perfect for this car, yet the way the power is distributed does not align with the executive drive Audi is seeking here.
Features and Safety
EuroNCAP tested the Audi A1, 3-door hatchback with front airbags, side airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters as standard and it scored a full 5 star rating on overall, with a 90% rating for adult occupants.
The Audi enjoys an 8-speaker Bose set, but would benefit loads from a sub. Nevertheless, Audi did have to make a lot of effort on space-management, so not adding a big sub is justifiable.
The S-Line additions like the flat-bottom steering wheel, larger alloy wheels, lower and sportier suspension, xenon and LED head- and taillights, a sporty body kit and leather-upholstered sports seats make this car a real gem.
The Audi A1 with its 1.4 TFSI engine is a very well-built car. It offers everything you could ask of a car that is compact, fast, beautifully designed and has a certain status. The transmission is lacking, even for people who do not push their car to the limit. Despite its lofty price tag, buyers will always pay a generous amount just for the four rings on the grill. For people who fancy a small car that still offers the luxury and high-end quality they are used to, the Audi A1 is most definitely a brilliant buy.
|The Type||0–100||CO2||MPG||BHP||Price (MXN/USD)|
S1 TFSI Quattro 3dr
|5.8 s||162 g/km||40.4||231||MX$630,000 / US$38,180|
1.0 TFSI SE 3dr
|10.9 s||97 g/km||67.3||95||MX$358,000 / US$21,700|
The Most Efficient
1.6 TDI SE 3dr
|9.4 s||92 g/km||80.7||116||MX$385,000 / US$23,333|