Compact but charismatic is magic formula
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.