Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI S Tronic Advanced Review
Spiritual Brand Essence


15 Apr 2020
 

Elements like the tri-vented faux inlet above the grille, bumped-out wheel arches, thick ‘C’ pillar and even its pushed-out tail lights; hint strongly of the iconic styling of both Quattro cars.

Audi first introduced the A1 back in 2010. A 3-door hatchback of small proportions, which was a very personal car. Later, the Sportback, essentially a 5-door variant was released, and with the addition of rear doors, it made the A1 a more practical vehicle. The Audi A1 offered quality everything externally, and the same was also said of its pretty solid interior. The A1 was an attractive premium hatch, but at the same time it conversely catered to a niche market due to its price point.

The first generation car carried Audi’s period design elements, including its refreshing signature one-piece grille which was still quite new at that stage. It featured interesting boot lid-mounted single-piece rear tail lights, which also meant that a secondary set of rear-facing lights hidden under the boot lid had to be in-place (for reasons of safety) once the boot was opened.

The second generation Audi A1 has taken a look back in time for its inspiration, and this came from both the Audi Ur Quattro and the shorter Sport Quattro models.

Elements like the tri-vented faux inlet above the grille, bumped-out wheel arches, thick ‘C’ pillar and even its pushed-out tail lights; hint strongly of the iconic styling of both Quattro cars.

Inside

We like how Audi added some playfulness to its signature high quality finished interior. Matching Phyton Yellow accents, surrounding the instrument panel, and centre console, and even in the door lever wells, adds a touch of the exterior into the inside.

A full digital instrument cluster which comes standard utilises a 10.25” screen, and replaces the analogue dials the previous car was equipped with, offering users flexibility in customising its display. The Audi Virtual Cockpit is also available as an optional extra. The central stack which includes Audi’s MMI 10.1” touchscreen is tilted to favour the driver.

Rear passengers benefit from a decent amount of legroom, thanks to its 2,563mm wheelbase (94mm longer than the previous car), and two adults of average proportions will fit quite comfortably.

The larger footprint of the A1 is also reflected in the increased cargo capacity. The 335 litre boot is a vast improvement over the previous 270 litres. Foldable 40:60 seatbacks extend available cargo space, and you also benefit from molded bag hooks resting above the rear wheel wells.

The Drive

While it might be safe to say that the A1 Sportback is not going to come anywhere close to the Audi Sport Quattro which it takes a styling leaf from in terms of outright performance, or even earning a place in history books as one of the cars that defined something great in automotive history. We however found that it does impress in its own right.

Its 3-cylinder engine, a teaspoon short of a litre, which dishes out 116hp and maximum torque of 200Nm from a rather narrow 2,000 to 3,500rpm, relies on its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission; which under normal driving likes switching up early in the game, keeping the engine well within this narrow band of torque.

While the early upshifts are intended to keep fuel consumption low, you do get quite a bit of exhaust resonance intruding into the cabin below 2,000rpm, which mars an otherwise pleasant in-cabin experience. I tend to flick the transmission into Sport mode to hold the gears a little longer for better response, and also to eliminate this in-cabin hum, by staying on a gear lower.

There is quite little build up before you experience its full-flavoured 200Nm, which happens almost all at once. Bang on the throttle, and the engine willingly spins up, with just a slight bit of flatness above 5,000rpm. Its distinct 3-cylinder growl would have you thinking that you are accelerating a little quicker than you really are, though its benchmark 100km/h is done in a humble but decent 9.4 seconds.

In a time where most premium cars are getting quite increasingly disconnected in their drive, the Audi A1 is refreshingly rather direct, ‘analogue’ as the guys at Audi would say. And this proves to be quite true. Steering feel is spot on, and it turns in accurately too. The suspension setup is slightly on the firmer side, and coupled with its short wheelbase, the A1 is heaps of fun to chuck around. Even with its garden variety tyres on 16” rims, the stiffness of the group’s MQB A0 architecture (which it shares with the related Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza), ensures that the small Audi stays planted around the bends, with a good amount of bite.

Our Thoughts

The A1 may be tiny in size, but engineers have managed to package the car well, squeezing in ounces of valuable interior space, especially at the boot. There are few minor things, like the slight road noise from its tyres at highway speeds, and the intruding hum penetrating the cabin below 2,000rpms.

However, I cannot deny that the baby Audi is superbly built from ground up, and unlike most Audi cars, feels more directly connected.

A1 does cost a fair bit of moolah. At $131,055* for this Advanced trim model, and $132,211* for the mechanically identical S Line model (Audi will sell only the S Line once stocks of the former run out).

The 5-door MINI ONE sets you back at $111,888*, the VW Polo with its fancy Beats audio package retails at $96,900*; while Spanish sister car, the SEAT Ibiza starts from a more humble $79,999*.

*Prices accurate at time of Roadtest.

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In Summary

We Like

Well designed and built. Stiff underpinnings brings great handling. Heaps of fun around the bends. Real handbrake lever. Pretty coloured accents.

We Don't

Intruding hum below 2,000rpm and road noise during cruising does affect an otherwise lovely driving experience. Costly.

Verdict

Fun to drive and to own. The Audi A1 would make a good personal car. There are however similar-priced and even cheaper chic options available.

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Engine

Engine Capacity 999cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 116bhp
Torque 200Nm

Performance

Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type 5 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4029 x 1740 x 1409) mm
Wheelbase 2563 mm

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs