Small luxury package
Its humble origins are well disguised under Audi class
The idea of paying $30,000-plus for a small car would have been thought ludicrous only a few years ago, but such has been the shift in the market that it’s no longer out of the question.
As buyers downsize from larger prestige models some makers are building small cars with the works.
Audi’s A1 came in at the top end of the small-car market but presented the downsizing prestige car buyer with just about every feature from a larger model. The A1 shared its platform with the VW Polo, a related rival and an accomplished little car.
There was just the one body style, a chunky three-door hatch that featured Audi’s distinctive grille style and four-ringed badge.
Inside there was adequate room for four adults to be conveyed in comfort, and there was a generous boot and a 60-40 split-fold rear seat to add to its capacity and flexibility.
Three models made up the range, starting with the entry level Attraction and then via the mid-range Ambition to the range-topping Sport. Engine options were petrol and diesel. The petrol option was a 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder (90kW/ 200Nm) but importantly the torque was available from 1500rpm for a smooth, flexible drive.
The diesel option was a 1.6-litre turbo that produced 66kW and 230Nm. It was no fireball but with that sort of torque it made for a comfortable driving car.
For gearboxes, buyers could choose between manual and DSG autos. When the petrol engine was chosen it came with a six-speed manual, the diesel had a five-speeder, but both could be had with the sevenspeed DSG.
All three models were well equipped, the features befitting a prestige model.
Audi has been the aspirational badge for many Australians tired of the BMW/Benz stranglehold on the prestige business.
As with any of the European brands, Audi prestige comes at a price that goes beyond the sticker on the new car.
Servicing them is more expensive and the cost of parts is generally higher than brands from other parts of the world.
One of the most important things to do is to locate a reputable and competent independent mechanic who will not only be able to service your car well, but also much more cheaply than the factory dealer. Also, when things go wrong most independent service mechanics who really know their stuff will be able to bring in much more affordable parts.
Sharp mechanics today use the internet to source parts worldwide and they are usually able to save their customers a heap on the cost of repairs.
The things to watch out for with the A1 are rough running on cold start, oil consumption on the petrol models, and odd behaviour with the DSG.
VW uses the same DSG transmission and there are many owners unhappy with it and the response they have received from VW when they have reported problems.
The most serious issue has been the car cutting out at random, sometimes at the most dangerous of times when drivers are cutting across traffic streams while making turns, on busy freeways etc.
VW recently announced a recall of some vehicles with the DSG transmission and Audi has joined in.
It should also be noted that the petrol engine uses the more expensive PULP.
Stylish, practical small car.