The A1 is an Audi unlike any other. As a newcomer in the compact class, it will appeal to a modern customer group – a young, urban, lifestyle-oriented public. The A1 is both a modern city car and a sporty all-rounder for an active lifestyle. It is the first premium car in the subcompact segment – a true, fully-fledged Audi.
The car’s agile chassis and its line-up of efficient, highly advanced engines immediately propel the A1 into the sporting category, and it athletic character is evident from the very first glance. But while the three-door’s design is arresting and contemporary, it is also unmistakably part of the extensive Audi family.
While the front end is dominated by the large single-frame grille and expressive headlights, the profile’s defining visual features include the distinctive roof arch, the coupé-like C-pillars and the generous wheel arches.
Short overhangs, the prominent bonnet and the smooth slope of the rear hatch frame the body’s compact shape, while the three-dimensional treatment of the tail light clusters is unmistakable by day or by night.
The interior: airy and animated
The interior of the A1 is surprisingly spacious, bright and airy. The instrument panel resembles an aircraft wing; its four round air vents are reminiscent of jet engines. The clean, clear control layout is just as much a classic Audi trademark as the high level of fit and finish.
The attention lavished on numerous details underscores the premium character of the A1. In addition to the Attraction and Ambition trim lines, Audi also offers a media style package focused on infotainment and interior design.
Innovative materials and modern colours emphasise the youthful character of the A1. Customisation is a core theme, and ranges from air vent surrounds in different colours and striking LED interior lighting to upholstery in expressive hues and patterns.
While the entire range is earmarked by a high level of standard equipment, the extensive options list allows countless opportunities to match the A1 to the driver’s own personal style.
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching customisation opportunities is presented by the ability to choose from a range of contrasting colours for the A1’s trademark roof arches. Customers can even order some of the optional features after the initial purchase, in response to a new trend or personal whim.
The range of infotainment and multimedia systems on offer is drawn directly from the luxury class. For instance, the top-of-the-line MMI navigation plus system is a media centre that sets new standards in the compact segment.
It borrows from the system used in Audi’s new A8 flagship, including a monitor that folds out from the instrument panel and a control unit employing MMI logic.
The connectivity package, which is based on the concert radio, includes a navigation system preparation so that a navigation system with map view can be installed at a later date – another innovative concept.
The optional 465 watt Bose surround sound system is just one example of the high-end complementary modules that are optionally available.
Great fun to drive
The agile chassis ensures the A1’s position at the top of its class in dynamic terms. Whether it’s driven in the city, on interurban roads or on the highway, the newest Audi is always great fun to drive, thanks to its sporty setup, the favourable weight distribution and the direct steering.
The hatchback’s ESP stabilisation program with electronic limited slip differential, offered as standard on all models, ensures that the A1s handling traits are not only extremely precise, but also enhance driving safety.
A sporty demeanour is only one aspect of the new A1. It also sets new efficiency standards.
In South Africa, Audi is rolling out the new model series with three four-cylinder engines: two TFSI turbocharged petrol units, and a TDI turbodiesel powerplant.
All of the engines follow the downsizing principle – they substitute turbocharging for displacement and draw their fuel through direct injection units. The performance range extends from 63 kW to 90 kW.
A start-stop system and a recuperation system, which recovers energy during braking, help to deliver the efficiency that is standard on all A1 models. All versions of the A1 impress with exemplary fuel economy, while CO2 emissions levels vary between 103 and 124 g/km.
A new temperature management system in the 1.2 TFSI further helps to reduce fuel consumption.
High-tech and efficiency: the seven-speed S tronic
At Audi, efficiency always means high-tech. The A1 is available with the marque’s seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, which shifts extremely quickly, comfortably and with no perceptible interruption to the flow of power.
Unique in this segment, S tronic can be operated in fully automatic mode, or used manually, with shift paddles on the steering column, behind the steering wheel, available as an option. While the seven-speed S tronic allows tremendously driving fun, it also further reduces fuel consumption – as one would expect of Audi.
Comprehensive range, strong value
In South Africa, the A1 line-up currently consist of seven models, spanning a choice of four engines, two transmissions and two specification levels. In addition, the sporty S-Line exterior package can be optionally fitted for an even more dynamic appearance.
The entry-level A1 is powered by a force-inducted 1.2 TFSI four-cylinder engine delivering a maximum power output of 63 kW at 4 800 r/min, linked to a 160 Nm torque peak sustained between 1 500 and 3 500 r/min.
Four of the six A1 derivatives are fitted with a 1.4 TFSI turbocharged petrol engine, credited with 90 kW of maximum power at 5 000 r/min, and maximum torque output of 200 Nm, sustained between 1 500 and 4 000 r/min.
The range-topping 1.4T FSI S line is also the performance star of the A1 line-up. It’s powered by dual-charged version of the 1.4T FSI engine, wit an impressive maximum power output of 136 kW, linked to a torque peak of 250 Nm.
The last engine on offer is a four-cylinder 1.6 TDI turbodiesel unit, delivering 77 kW of maximum power at 4 400 r/min, together with 250 Nm of torque between 1 500 and 2 500 r/min.
While the 1.2 TFSI and 1.6 TDI are only offered in conjunction with five-speed manual gearboxes, the 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission is available on both the Attraction and Ambition versions of the A1 1.4 TFSI. It is also the only transmission choice on the 1.4T FSI S line.