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Driving review: Audi A1

So what’s new when it comes to its already good looks?

WHAT IS IT?

The Audi A1 was launched internationally in 2010 and has sold 500 000 units since. It landed on our shores in 2011 and South Africa has seen more than 8 700 units sold. It’s Mini’s biggest rival, we cannot count the Opel Adam just yet as it is too soon to tell, but the A1 and Mini tend to go head-to-head. For me, the A1 is more grown up. I know, I know, BMW has done everything to make the Mini appealing to families and grown ups, but I see the A1 as more ‘mature’ if you will. Not as mature as the A3 mind you.

Audi A1

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

So what’s new when it comes to its already good looks? The front bumper has been revised, the headlights that were round are now rectangular and the grille has changed slightly. At the rear you will see the diffuser is different and the taillights now have a 3D design. It’s compact and this is probably what makes it so appealing to its buyers. Look, it’s not for the busy mom with loads of kids to haul around, but if you want a sexy, sporty hatchback that gets you around town in a jiffy, the A1 should be on your wish list.

Audi A1

WHAT DOES IT OFFER?

New on this generation is the electromechanical steering. It is direct but had some disconcerting torque steer when you put your foot down flat, on the 1,8T. Of course, when at low speeds, it is responsive and weighted enough. Also new is the Audi drive select system which varies the engine characteristics over three modes; auto, efficiency and dynamic. This is standard on the SE and Sport models.

The Audi A1 and A1 Sportback will be offer three trim levels;  S, SE and Sport. Customisation is where Audi nails it. The A1 can be customised in over 250 000 combinations. The interior is also customisable.

Audi A1 Sportback

The entry level A1, the 1,0T FSI S manual and S tronic (which is my choice out of the range) comes standard with a multi function steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, radio with pop-up LCD colour screen, driver information system with efficiency programme, new-design 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, manual air conditioning, and rear fog lights. The S trim level adds features such as rain and light sensor, automatic climate control, Audi Drive and Audi drive select.

The Sport trim adds even more with 17-inch alloys, front sport seats in cloth, S line exterior package, LED interior lighting package, sport suspension and aluminium look interior.

Read more on the Audi S1
11_Audi S1_72 dpi

HOW DOES IT DRIVE?

The A1 range is offered with new-generation TFSI engine in both three and four-cylinder variants. The previous 1,2T FSI 63 kW and 1,4T FSI 136 kW models have been replaced with a three-cylinder 1.0T FSI and four-cylinder 1,8T FSI respectively. No diesels are offered due to the quality of our fuel.

The entry-level engine would be my choice. It offers 70 kW of power and 160 N.m of torque. It has a claimed fuel consumption of just 4,3 l/100 km and it is completely exempt from emissions taxation as it has a CO2 emissions figure of only 98 g/100 km. It will be available in both manual and S tronic transmission, which is as slick and smooth as is expected from Audi.

The 1,0T FSI S manual is priced at R265 000, you can expect to pay R282 500 for the S tronic. The Sportback version of the S tronic is R290 000.

Audi A1 Sportback ultra

The 1,0 has more than enough power to nip through town, to overtake on an incline on the open road and get you from robot to robot quickly. What more do you need? Plus you save on fuel and emissions tax. It’s the whole package just with less bling and vroom. The 1,0 is only offered with S trim level but SE trim level will be optional by the end of 2015.

If you want more power and of course more spec, even if think it isn’t really necessary; you can look at the 1,8T FSI Sport S tronic for R382 500. The Sportback version comes in at R390 000. Otherwise, the 1,4T FSI SE is the perfect balance between the two engines and starts at R298 500 for the manual.

All A1’s come standard with a five year/100 00 km Audi Freeway Plan.

CONCLUSION

It’s compact, good looking, nippy and comfortable. If you are an Audi fan, you will love this sure-fire hit. If you aren’t a fan, this little hatchback might change your mind!

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