Audi carves a turkey

The Ci­ty­carver is a mildly crossover­i­fied ver­sion of the A1 that doesn’t en­tirely make sense

CAR (UK) - - First Drives - JAMES TAYLOR

Seems a sound plan. While car buy­ers flock to crossovers like moths to can­de­labras, dip a brush in the SUV Styling Cues pot and ap­ply it to the A1 (to­gether with a mildly silly name, in best cross­over tra­di­tion), stand back to ad­mire hand­i­work, reap pos­si­ble re­wards.

Said hand­i­work in­cludes an ex­tra 40mm of ride height, a grille swap from the A1’s usual hexagon to an oc­tagon (as per Audi’s Q-se­ries SUVs), and whee­larch cladding – al­beit gloss­ily fin­ished, in keep­ing with the up­mar­ket A1.

The re­sults are mild, more akin to an ad­di­tional trim level than a stand­alone model. Other faux-off-road su­per­mi­nis such as the Ford Fi­esta Ac­tive and Kia Xceed add roof rails for added vis­ual height but the Ci­ty­carver dis­dains that trick. It’s sim­ply a slightly jackedup A1 with chunky sills and bumpers.

That’s ex­actly how it drives, too. There’s more body­roll and your head sways a lit­tle more in cor­ners than it does in a reg­u­lar A1, but oth­er­wise it’s busi­ness as usual. Rec­om­pense for the ex­tra roll is com­fier ride qual­ity, like driv­ing an au­to­mo­tive Air Max trainer.

There’s a choice of two petrol en­gines: a 148bhp 1.5-litre four-cylin­der, or a 114bhp 999cc three-cylin­der, which is what we’ve tested here with the con­ve­nient and swift-shift­ing (but £1540) DSG au­to­matic gear­box. That would feel ex­trav­a­gant in any other city runaround, but it barely stands out in the A1 Ci­ty­carver, be­cause it’s so pricey to start with.

The en­try-level 1.0-litre man­ual costs £22,040, around £2295 more than an equiv­a­lent reg­u­lar A1 and enough to get you into a big­ger cross­over such as 1.5-litre VW T-Roc, or a top­spec Fi­esta Ac­tive with a chunk of change to spare. Our op­tioned-up test car weighed in at over £28k. At first, the in­te­rior feels wor­thy of the stiff price with its glossy touch­screen and dig­i­tal in­stru­ments, but then the nov­elty wears off and the low qual­ity of some of the plas­tics be­gins to grate.

First ver­dict

Rides nicely and has a strong vis­ual pres­ence but sti price is hard to jus­tify over a roomier cross­over or cheaper su­per­mini +++ ++

Which way to the prize­giv­ing for daft names? This way

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