Com­pact but charis­matic is magic for­mula

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FEATURES - Keith Ward

TRA­DI­TION­ALLY up­mar­ket brands have in these strait­ened times seen fit to stick smaller mod­els, cheaper to buy and run, to the bot­tom end of their ranges. Pocket-sized but still posh is the for­mula; com­pact with charisma.

So although seen to do your bit to shoul­der the cri­sis as a re­spon­si­ble mem­ber of the Big So­ci­ety, you don’t lose face with the Jone­ses next door.

Step for­ward the Audi A1, a com­pact three-door hatch­back to take on the likes of BMW’S 1-se­ries. It stands about a foot shorter than the A3 next up the range, but with just enough legroom to al­low two pairs of av­er­a­ge­sized adults to sit be­hind each other. Taller oc­cu­pants should check the head­room.

The boot took lit­tle more than our two week­end cases, but some ex­tra stor­age could be found un­der the floor, thanks to the lack of a spare wheel.

To take more cargo, the rear seat backs will di­vide and slope for­ward, but the rear bench is one-piece, so to achieve a flat ex­tended floor you need to sac­ri­fice both rear seats. Other­wise, the in­te­rior is up to what you might ex­pect as a smart Audi stan­dard.

Our car had the most modest of the three en­gine op­tions: a 1.2-litre, four­cylin­der petrol pro­duc­ing 86 PS and a re­mark­able surge of power on the flat.

But on hills you need to work the five-speed box and on mo­tor­ways you might be look­ing for a sixth cog, which is stan­dard with the big­ger 1.4 litre petrol op­tion. Both they and the 1.6 diesel al­ter­na­tive boast tur­bocharg­ing and a stop-start func­tion when sta­tion­ary, which helps re­duce CO2 emis­sions from the 1.2 to a lowly 118 g/km, in­cur­ring nil road tax in the first year and just £30 an­nu­ally there­after. And although driven keenly, it re­turned 47.2 mpg.

In mid-ta­ble Sport trim, the 1.2 TFSI test car, at a base price of £14,165, would in­clude spe­cial seats, firmer sus­pen­sion which trans­mits road rip­ples, Blue­tooth in­ter­face and larger 16in wheels.

It also came hung with the sort of ex­tras Audi own­ers might crave and add to the bill. Such as a £1,225 tech­nol­ogy pack in­clud­ing

CREA­TURE COM­FORTS: Audi A1 three door hatch­back and in­set the Quat­tro model.

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