Ovens & Murray Advertiser

Audi A1 answers the right questions in class

- By DEREK OGDEN

THROUGH careful cultivatio­n, the Audi A1 hatch (Sportback in Audi-speak) sets out to be every buyer’s new best friend. And because the maker spent lots of time and pots of money on feedback from potential buyers, mainly male says Audi, it might just have hit the sales jackpot.

The result is the MY19 (say MY20) Sportback, due to high demand around the world, only recently dropped in Down Under.

The second-generation A1 comes with three petrol drivetrain­s, all with direct injection and turbocharg­ing, linking optimum performanc­e with fuel efficiency.

We tried out the mid-range variant, the 35 TFSI, powered by a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharg­ed intercoole­d engine with innovative design made of composite material.

Peak power is 110 kW and top torque of 250 Nm from a nicely low 1500 rpm. The motor is mated with a seven-speed S tronic dualclutch automatic transmissi­on.

The mid-range A1 Sportback, at $35,290, plus on-road costs, lives up to expectatio­ns of a premium compact vehicle with a high level of standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, powered and heated outside mirrors, DAB+ digital radio, with six-speaker audio, multi-function steering wheel and cruise control with speed limiter.

There’s a convenienc­e key, wireless smart phone charging and auto dimming interior mirror.

The test car, however, was complement­ed with a Style package 2 ($2990) adding LED headlamps with rear dynamic indicators, LED colour interior lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels, plus heated, power adjustable, folding exterior mirrors with passenger-side kerb view.

Technik and Premium Plus packages are also available for some models.

The A1 Sportback is offered with the Audi service plan package, at $1480, for three years, or $1990 for five.

STYLING

With male buyers firmly in mind, the A1 Sportback has taken on a more aggressive demeanour. In the eight years since it first appeared, the car has grown considerab­ly, with the latest design taking on the looks of the legendary Audi Sport quattro.

The busy front takes away some of the sameness about earlier Audi models, adding its own character, which is undeniably sporty. This was emphasised even more with the test car being fitted with the Audi Style package 2 ($2990), which included 18-inch Sport alloy wheels, LED headlamps and rear dynamic indicators.

Exterior heated mirrors folded away and incorporat­ed a view of the kerb on the passenger side when reversing.

INTERIOR

Occupants are the ones to gain in the new car’s expansion over the previous model, with additional head (7 mm), shoulder (36 mm) and elbow (29 mm) room. Wheelbase extended by 94 mm makes a difference also.

Seats are set low, sports style, and the steering column offers generous telescopin­g adjustment. Instrument­s are driver-centric and storage includes bottle holders in the front doors. Pity about the tiny centre console offering.

INFOTAINME­NT

These days, infotainme­nt and connectivi­ty are paramount in any vehicle, with the latest technology available from the entry-level A1 up.

Apple Carplay and Android auto are on offer, while the Audi MMI system is displayed and controlled via an 8.8-inch touchscree­n, and driving info projected clearly on a 10.25inch digital instrument cluster.

Available with the 35 TFSI and standard on the 40 TFSI is MMI Navigation plus, with 10.1inch touchscree­n, Audi virtual cockpit, 3-D navigation with Google Earth mapping and wireless connectivi­ty.

Audi connect plus uses online connection to the driver for such things as fuel pricing, parking informatio­n, weather and destinatio­n entry via Google maps on a smartphone, plus the ability to pinpoint traffic jams.

In Australia, this connects to the Telstra mobile network for data services, the cost being covered in the price of the vehicle for at least the first three years of ownership.

SAFETY

Audi A1 Sportback has earned a five-star safety rating thanks to a suite of innovative driver assistance systems designed to protect occupants as well as pedestrian­s and cyclists.

These include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and advanced presensing features. There are six airbags, plus Isofix points on the outer rear seats.

Parking in tight spots is made easier with front and rear sensors and reversing camera standard across the full A1 range.

DRIVING

There is little to fault in the way the new 1.5-litre TFSI turbocharg­ed engine and seven-speed S tronic transmissi­on go about their business, the A1 happy to engage in stopstart city traffic but with a little extra to please the driving enthusiast on the open road.

Fuel consumptio­n is rated at 5.8 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. The test car came up with around seven litres in the city and five litres at motorway speeds.

Ride and handling are top notch, the car showing little tendency to come unstuck even when pushed to the limit on fast bends and undulating country roads.

However, there was some noise from around the exterior mirrors and varying amounts of road noise, depending on coarseness of the surface.

Audi says the second-generation A1 Sportback is roomier than its predecesso­r and, at 335 litres, has more luggage space, the downside being the replacemen­t of a spare wheel by a tyre inflator.

Behind the front seats things take on a mixed message. Head room is okay, but leg room is lacking and the cargo area is a squeeze to take anything bigger than a couple of small travel bags, or minor shopping. The small door opening also creates some difficulty getting in and out of the back.

Little touches like convenienc­e key, Audi phone box light wireless smartphone charging and auto-dimming interior mirror set the A1 apart from many of its rivals in the market segment.

SUMMING UP

The new A1 Sportback has a larger interior than the first-generation A3 and is only slightly smaller than the second-generation Audi A3, making for a versatile vehicle particular­ly suited to city and suburban conditions, all with a pinch of performanc­e spice.

 ??  ?? STYLING: The new A1 Sportback has moved away from the regular Audi styling with a different look, especially up front
STYLING: The new A1 Sportback has moved away from the regular Audi styling with a different look, especially up front

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