Meet the exciting new small Audi that’s on the road to compact car glory! This is the A1 – and Auto Express has been given exclusive access to it ahead of its world debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.
The model marks a new entry point to Audi ownership, and there is no hiding its intentions – it’s going head-to-head with the MINI. In a cheeky side-swipe at its chief rival, the company even describes the A1 as “the first premium car in the small compact sector”.
Available to order in May with prices from £13,000, it will have BMW bosses worried – and buyers licking their lips. As well as a stylish shape, classy cabin and great scope for personalisation, the A1 offers ultra-efficient turbocharged engines and what Audi says will be the sportiest driving experience in the class. As you can see from our exclusive pictures, the car has lost none of the visual strength of the metroproject quattro – the concept that previewed it at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2007.
It’s 3.95 metres long, 1.74 metres wide and 1.42 metres tall – that makes it bigger than the MINI, and similar in size to a three-door Ford Fiesta. Stand-out features include the coupé-like roofline, in contrasting colours. There’s also a bold single-frame grille and striking headlamps, which can be ordered as a full LED set-up, with xenons and daytime running strips.
Other highlights include sharp shoulder lines, a neat roof spoiler and lower diffuser. The result is a chunky and athletic shape that looks every inch the baby Audi, yet has a character all of its own. Inside, the dashboard is a masterpiece of design and quality, and has four bold air vents – in the shape of a jet turbine – plus the option of LED ambient lighting. Buyers can pick from a variety of colours for the vent nozzles, armrests and centre console.
Gadgets include a pop-up dial for the MMI system. This cabin control set-up not only incorporates 3D sat-nav, voice control, Bluetooth and music storage, it also has a 465-watt, 14-speaker Bose stereo.
Lower-spec models get a retractable display that allows Audi sat-navs to be retro-fitted, along with iPod connectivity.
The all-turbo engine line-up comprises two TFSI petrol units and two TDI diesels, all with stop-start and energy recovery. Kicking things off is an 85bhp 1.2-litre TFSI, which promises 0-62mph in 12.1 seconds and a 111mph top speed. It also returns 55.4mpg combined and emits 119g/km of CO2. It will be sold alongside a 120bhp 1.4 with figures of 9.2 seconds, 124mph and 52.3mpg. This has the option of the seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox.
The 89bhp 1.6-litre diesel does 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds, returns 74.3mpg and puts out only 99g/km. A 104bhp version posts a time of 10.8 seconds and offers 72.4mpg economy.
The front-wheel-drive platform features traditional MacPherson struts up front and a rear torsion beam. But engineers will offer a fun driving experience with direct electrohydraulic steering, an electronic differential and optional sports suspension.
Deliveries of the three-door A1 start in November, with a hot S1 and a five-door following later.