Audi’s A1 looks and feels like a prestige model without the price tag, writes Craig Duff
AUDI HATCHES A PLAN FOR THE SMALL CAR PRESTIGE MARKET
BRAGGING rights for the least expensive prestige car now belong to Audi’s A1 — just don’t expect to tell your friends about it from in the car. A $29,900 starter price for the Attraction model is a showroom lure, but Bluetooth comes as part of a media pack that costs another $1800, or 6 per cent of the base price.
At a time when $ 15,000 vehicles have Bluetooth as standard, it’s a calculated gamble by the German company, which is confident the sub-compact car’s Mini-esque ‘‘ extreme customisation’’ options will be compelling for its target audience.
And they’re probably right. The A1 is steering straight at urban professionals with projections that half the buyers will be women who will pay to personalise their vehicles.
The Mini experience — very few Minis are sold standard — backs that up, but it will also quickly push the Audi well into the mid-$30,000 bracket and beyond if you tick enough boxes.
THE basic proposition is compelling—$30,000 or $169 a week for three years will put you behind the wheel of a base model that feels and looks every bit like a prestige Audi.
The styling is classy and signature Audi inside and out, meaning the fit and finish are as good as anything this side of a Bentley.
Against that is the fact most of the vehicles at last week’s launch were about $35,000, and fully optioned-up Ambition models were approaching $50,000.
Standard gear includes a single-disc CD system with a glovebox-mounted auxiliary input SD memory card slot and a 16.5cm colour display.
The basic mechanicals are more impressive with a chassis and engine that, while borrowed from the Polo, are a better drive than its VW Group stablemate.
The 1.4-litre engine uses a turbo and directinjection to generate 90kW and 200Nm, with the six-speed manual doing it while using only 5.3litres of petrol for 100km, and emitting 124g of CO a kilometre 2 The seven-speed S-tronic is another $2300, but it is probably the pick for most buyers and is just as fuel-efficient and marginally better on emissions.
That puts it at the top of its class for fuel consumption and will be a big part of the A1’s appeal.
The stop-start system is standard on both transmissions and fires up so quickly it’s virtually seamless when the clutch/accelerator is depressed.
Inside there’s a high-resolution 16.5cm monitor that pops out of the dash, but you need to tick the multi-media interface option to make it really trick. The optional LED interior lights and xenon headlights are also worth the investment, both in looks and practicality.
THE looks are the first obvious appeal of the little Audi. It’s not retro-chic like the Mini, but it isn’t aiming to be. With the ( optional) contrasting roof arches, the baby Audi is an imposing sight.
It cuts through the wind well too— extensive wind-tunnel testing has cut the drag co-efficient to 0.32, making the A1 one of the slipperiest cars in its class.
The interior is clean and attractive in regular trim, but really comes alive with a splash of colour. The A1 is an inviting place to be with the colour-coded air-vent sleeves and door trim
Customise: Audi is targeting buyers who will pay to personalise their vehicles.