Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S tronic (122 bhp) Review
Small Wonder

Small Wonder
24 Mar 2011
 

Audi says that the A1 is a compact car that thinks big. Is it good enough to take the fight to the Mini and will it be really the next big Audi. Raymond Lai spends a weekend with it to find out more.

Introduction, styling

These days, premium brands like Audi, BMW and Porsche among others are entering or even creating all sorts of new niche markets to increase their sales volume. In the case of Audi, models like the A4 and A6 might make up the core of the brand's worldwide sales but surely, the brand can only shift that much A4 and A6 models before the executive saloon market reaches saturation and hence the need to explore new niches to expand its product portfolio and eventually, sales volume.

The head honchos at Ingolstadt have obviously noticed BMW's success with the Mini brand since the latter's relaunch a decade ago. The Mini's success came as it managed to fill a gap in the market that was never exploited previously - the premium compact city car. With the new A1, Audi hopes that it has what it takes to take on the Mini in this increasingly popular and competitive sector.

Audi first showed its intention to compete with Mini as far back as 2007 when it showcased the metroproject quattro concept at the Tokyo Motorshow. The metroproject quattro was Audi's vision for a possible compact city car. It evolved into various other concept cars, including the A1 project quattro and the A1 Sportback concepts the following year before the production version was finally unveiled at last year's Geneva Motorshow.

Visually, the series production A1 isn't far off from the original metroproject quattro's bar refinements made for production like the grille inserts, headlamp lenses, wing mirrors, wheels and bumpers. Up front, the A1 has the typical Audi face - headlamps with LED daytime running lights in a unique wave pattern acting as eyes and the latest iteration of the single frame grille first seen on the A8. Along the flanks, the A1 features the typical Audi one third glasshouse, two thirds body panel proportions while its designers are particularly proud of the ‘tornado' line that outlines the edge of the bonnet and runs all the way to the tailgate. The swoopy roofline gives the A1 a distinctive silhouette that is further accentuated on cars with the roof arch painted in matte aluminium. According to Audi, the wraparound tailgate is the result of high quality and precision design processes that results in three-dimensional looking tail lamps that are uninterrupted by shut lines.

Just like the Mini, Audi will offer graphics options for the A1's exterior as well as themes like the ‘competition' pack on the car here. The ‘competition' theme has obviously been inspired by the racing colours of Audi's iconic ur-quattro rally cars from the 1980s. On the outside, this not only comes with the graphics but a high mounted tailgate spoiler as well as ‘flower petal' style 18-inch alloy wheels.

All in all, the A1, in its basic form, looks well-proportioned and very pretty indeed as well as having an air of sophistication and premium feel that was unheard of in small cars previously. In addition, the ‘competition' themed car adds an extra touch of sportiness and playfulness to the A1's overall look.


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Engine

Engine Capacity 1390cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1
Power 122bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 108.4 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 8.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 203 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 19.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF

Measurements

Body Type 3 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(3954 x 1740 x 1416) mm
Wheelbase 2469 mm
Turning Circle 10.7 metres
Kerb Weight 1125 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs