Belfast Telegraph

Review: Audi A1

Audi’s smallest ever car is still big on style and appeal, finds Jim McCauley, due to the A1 sticking closely to the manufacturer’s DNA

Picking up the mantle of the Volkswagen Polo and its European Car of the Year crown, Audi has clothed the underpinnings in its own distinctive bodywork to offer its smallest car ever — the A1. And the success begins immediately with its enticing looks, inviting you to come closer and discover how far the Audi DNA has filtered down into its new-range opening model.

The interior reflects the charm of the exterior, with an urge to get in and drive.

This report features a duo of petrol and diesel engines — the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol unit and the 1.6-litre diesel, both turbo-charged. A 1.2-litre petrol engine is also on offer. Off the line to the 62mph mark, and the petrol engine establishes its initial superiority, but overall pace with more aggressive mid-range response gives the diesel the winning hand, despite its 1.6-second lag in the 0-62mph sprint behind the 8.9 seconds of the petrol-engined car.

However, for those who favour automatics, this is available only with the petrol engine, and maintains both the initial acceleration time and top speed of 126mph. At the same time, it manages to stretch the combined MPG to one mile more at 54.3mpg while reducing CO2 emissions from 124 gms/km to 119. Against this, the diesel car tops out at 118mph, returning 74.3mpg on the combined cycle and dropping CO2 emissions to just 99 gms/km.

The test models came with the optional Dynamic suspension, which gives a firmer ride and sharper settling response than the standard set-up.

Both manual gearboxes, six-speed on the petrol and five-speed on the diesel, neatly slice through their ratios, while the S-tronic offers the option to override with manual selection. However, this is best achieved with the steering wheel paddles on the optional multi-function steering wheel adding a modest but necessary £95 to take full advantage from the automatic ’box.

SE is the opening trim level, stepping up through Sport at a premium of £1,840 and S Line at a further cost of £1,545. Setting out to conquer the opposition from Mini and Alfa MiTo among others, the SE trim includes manual air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, electric windows and door mirrors, as well as sports steering wheel and quality radio, with flip-up large central display screen.

Sport sees the wheels increased to 16-inch, front sports seats with height adjustment, multi-function steering wheel, driver’s information system and front fog lights, while Bluetooth connectivity with voice control is also added.

S Line receives another step in wheel size to 17-inch alloys, with the lowered and firmer suspension and other upgrades which are mainly cosmetic.

For load carrying, the split rear seat folds flat, and with the tail-light cluster incorporated in the wide hatch, LED repeater units are set into the rear edges to maintain signals if driving with the hatch partially open.

Safety-wise, the car comes as standard with ESP and Audi’s latest version of their electronic differential lock to help maintain neutral handling, while twin front, side and head airbags are also standard.

Styling-wise, there is no mistaking the Audi family genes from the front, but to extend its visual identity the car requires the £350 option of the roof edge panels. These come in a choice of four colours and not only confirm the signature of the car, but greatly add to its appeal and attraction, augmenting the personality aspects.

The hallmark of a manufacturer can be found in its small car range, and the helium-filled A2, with its pioneering design and construction elements drifted skywards to an extent that even Audi lost sight of it.

The A1 is a weightier solution drawing on established practice and acknowledged excellence in the latest generation Polo. It delivers the same goods, but with much more charm and does not short change in displaying its Audi heritage. Strangely, more than any other car, colour is an element of its appeal and is something that would be better viewed in the flesh than from a sales brochure.

Overall, the A1 represents a firm handshake for Audi in a model that will introduce younger buyers to the brand and persuade them to stay with it as life progresses.

The basic car lends itself to a degree of personalisation at each trim level, while a five-year/50,000 mile service plan at £250 helps budgeting |and aids residuals, predicted in-house to be 20% better than the equivalent Mini after three years and 30,000 miles.

Details

Audi A1 1.6 TDI

Engine: 1.6 litre, 105 PS @ 4,400rpm. 250Nm torque @ 1500-2500rpm

Drive: Five-speed manual to front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph (100km/h) in 10.5 seconds; max, 118mph (188km/h)

Fuel on combined cycle: 74.3mpg (3.8 l/100km)

CO2: 99gms/km; VED Band A for zero annual car tax

Trim: SE

Price: £14,480

Insurance: ABI Group 14 (new 50 band ratings)

Warranty: Three-year/60,000 miles, 12 years’ anti-perforation cover and three years’ roadside assistance and recovery

Benefit-in-Kind: 13%

Euro NCAP: 5-Star

Available extras: Bluetooth connectivity, £300 (standard on higher trim levels); electric sunroof, £895; metallic paint, £510; rear parking sensors, £305; five-year service plan, £250

Audi a1 1.4 TFSi

Engine: 1.4 litre, 122 PS @ 5000rpm. 200Nm torque @ 1500-4000 rpm

Drive: Six-speed manual to front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph (100km/h) in 8.9 seconds; max, 126mph (202 km/h)

Fuel on combined cycle: 53.3mpg (5.3 l/100km)

CO2: 124gms/km; VED Band D for annual car tax of £95

Trim: Sport

Price: £15,670

Insurance: ABI Group15 (new 50 band ratings)

Warranty: Three-year/60,000 miles, 12 years’ anti-perforation cover and three years’ roadside assistance and recovery

Benefit-in-Kind: 15%

Euro NCAP: 5-Star

Available extras: Climate control upgrade, £330; leather seats, £1,225; roof side bars, £350; cruise control, £235; metallic paint, £510; five-year service plan £250

Belfast Telegraph

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