Refreshed a1 roomier
Pleasantly surprised at 1.0TSI manual’s pulling power
TO THE delight of young up-andcoming professionals around the world, instead of stretching budgets to jump into an A3, traditionally the smallest and cheapest Audi hatchback for quite some time, the A1 made it possible for many people to drive a “cheaper”, yet still “premium”, four-ring car. As oxymoronic as that The new Audi A1 will be made available with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (85kw, 200Nm), a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with cylinder deactivation capability (110kw, 250Nm), and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (147kw, 320Nm). All motors are turbocharged with direct-injection and depending on which propulsion unit you go for, you’ll be able to choose manual or dual-clutch auto gearboxes.
First, I jumped into the model that’s probably going to appeal to most buyers, arguably because it’s going to be the cheapest way to jump into a new Audi – the 1.0-litre manual. After spending around 100km behind the wheel of the 1.0TSI manual, I came away pleasantly surprised at the unit’s pulling power and overtaking ability. Sure, you’ve got to rev the engine to make haste, but overall it’s not as laggy as I expected it to be, and the manual transmission’s ratios aren’t super eco-biased, which makes for decent (confident) acceleration from a standstill or while on the move. I then went for a 90km loop in the range-topping 2.0-litre TFSI, fitted with 17-inch alloys and an S-line kit. This car was also fitted with a six-speed S-tronic transmission, which ensured slick-shifting and fewer missed gears (we were driving left-hand-drive cars). Left in its standard settings (you can choose from a variety of sporty or eco-driving modes through the Drive Select button on the dashboard), the 2.0-litre is responsive in the same vein as VW’S Polo GTI; fast and comfy, but a little dull in terms of feedback and grin factor. sounds, in South Africa the A1 has done remarkably well over the years, considering the cheapest derivative (1.0TSI) currently sells for around R350 000. Sold in three-door and five-door guises, with petrol and diesel (now a dirty word at Audi) engines, manual and S-tronic, as well as tar-melting S1 formats, the old A1 You’ll immediately notice the new A1 because it is much more aggressive than the old one in its execution. Audi’s spokespersons call it a more masculine-looking car, and they’re spot-on. Nostrils under the bonnet hark back to the original Audi Quattro, mildly flared wheel arches hint at its sporty intent, and an extra fat C-pillar makes it look more purposeful and racy. The new A1 is also available in striking new colours, including the Python Yellow you see in the pictures, and Turbo Blue. Arrow-head inspired front and rear lights, with LED lamp technology, give it a distinct look as a “new” Audi, Measuring 4.03 metres in length, 1.74m in width, and 1.41m in height, with the boot at around 335 litres with the rear seats in place, the new A1 is roomier than its predecessor. It’s also around 50kg heavier, depending on the model, but you can’t really seemed to have all niches covered; young moms and dads that needed extra doors for small kids or easy access to baby seats, or petrolheads that live their lives a quarter-mile at a time… there was an A1 for everyone. Heck, let’s not forget the limited edition Quattro model that wasn’t sold here. too. On the inside, I particularly liked the driver-focused dashboard, with the centre console angled towards the driver for ease of access to multimedia controls. A full-colour touch-screen system (similar to the units fitted to the new A8 and A6) will be available for all models and you can even choose to upgrade to the full Audi Virtual Cockpit experience, complete with digital instrument cluster. The nicest part of the new A1 on the inside, though, has to be its fit and finish. Quality materials, whether it’s the cloth or the plastic or two-tone accents on the press units, show a more youthful charisma than the old car with its slabs of black plastic.
feel this extra weight when driving it. As a compact family runabout, it can work well, because it’s only available with rear doors now, and there’s no straining to get in and out of the back seat. Rear legroom and knee room has improved, too, so you can actually transport adults in the back.
For 2019, though, the secondgeneration A1 is going to do things slightly differently. Globally, there will only be a five-door model, the Sportback, and there won’t be an S1 or Quattro. I sampled two of the three Audi A1 derivatives that are coming to South Africa at the world launch in Spain last week: I’M RESERVING final judgment on the new A1 until it arrives in South Africa, in trims that are tailored to our market.
The left-hand-drive units I sampled in Spain drove well, and certainly showed the car’s cruising capabilities, but I’d like to negotiate more city traffic in an A1 to gauge what it’s like to pilot the manual 1.0-litre version in stop-start city traffic. The 2.0-litre turbo? Well, it lacked the kind of fizz I was expecting of a “hot” Audi and, to be perfectly honest, it might not be the one to go for when the cars eventually arrive in South Africa next year.
If it were my cash, I’d seriously consider a 1.0-litre model, with a few options, though, such as the S-line kit and maybe 18-inch alloy wheels.
Local pricing of the new A1 will be confirmed towards the middle of 2019, but you can expect a slight increase in retail costs compared to the outgoing model, according to Audi SA. | Drive360