Audi A1 quattro

3 Dec, 2012 11:00am Damion Smy

The new limited-edition Audi A1 quattro offers stunning pace – but it comes at a massive price


The Audi A1 quattro is a blast to drive, combining stunning performance with the same usability as lesser A1s. Such power could be overwhelming, but the quattro’s balance and grip are exceptional. The price is steep, but the limited production run guarantees its exclusivity. This A1 looks sure to go down in the hot hatch hall of fame.

The A1 quattro is the most ferocious Audi A1 you can buy. Or should we say could buy – as all 333 examples (19 of which were earmarked for the UK) have already been sold. Still, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put the model through its paces on British roads.

You can tell this A1 has more bite just by looking at it. There’s a set of white turbine-style 18-inch alloys, aggressive headlamps with red-hued LED daytime running lights, a chunky rear spoiler and wider tailpipes, while a race-inspired bodykit gives the quattro the look of a rally car.

Shoehorned into the A1’s engine bay is the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo from the previous-generation S3, while that car also donates its six-speed manual box and quattro all-wheel drive. Power output is a huge 252bhp – that’s 70bhp more than the next-best A1, the 182bhp 1.4T quattro.

The power-to-weight ratio of 182bhp per tonne is better than the heavier S3, which has a figure of 174bhp per tonne. But the two cars post identical 0-62mph sprint times, at 5.7 seconds.

Inside, the leather sports steering wheel, textured gearlever and aluminium pedals are well placed, while a low-slung driving position adds to the drama.

When you fire up this A1, the sports exhausts instantly deliver a warm burble. At a standstill, it sounds like a rally car. Press the throttle and it goes like one, too.

There’s a gutsy roar backed by a turbo whistle as you surge forwards – no wheelspin, no fuss, it just grips and goes. And while there’s a hint of lag at low revs, throttle response is razor sharp once the turbo is spooled up.

The car’s poise is impeccable in a straight line and through corners, where it’s remarkably flat. Shifting gears takes some muscle, but the box is so smooth you’ll be changing up and down for the sake of it. With plenty of feedback from the steering, the car is nimble at high speed and easy to manoeuvre when the pace drops, with strong brakes giving confidence into corners. What lets it down is the price and that limited production run.

If you can find an A1 quattro, and are able to afford it, it’s one of the best hot hatches we’ve driven.

Disqus - noscript

It is so anoying that audi abused their trademark - quatro by designating with it 4wd systems of completely different class. A1 and A3 models use a Haldex on-demand type system used also in VW and Volvo (sure Lamborghini and Bugatti are there as well). It has nothing to do with the real permanent 4wd quatro installed in the higher models. So I guess I drive Volvo s60 T6 quatro.

41 bags of sand for a shopping trolley?! Fools and money, spring to mind.

So stivans , please help me. Is the Haldex pt/time 4WD a RWD first, then 4WD to the front? As desirable as that would be I doubt its the case. That set-up would mark Audi out surely as unique in the hot hatch segment, with maybe the exception of the bread van 1 from Bavaria. And Mr Walsh, I'm curious what you'd throw your 41 bags of sand at. I wouldn't throw any bags at a LHD car, as was the case with this car. Which brings me to the article. Most of what was said was irrelevant and immaterial. So, 19, LHD, hot hatches for the UK, all sold. At least AE you got to have a logic-defying bash at Audi, with one word.......massive, in your headline. Surely its no more than a 'high' priced version of a down stream model, just like every car company does. You blackened the car, then went on to sing its praises, almost as though any money would be right for this spectacular little hot hatch, destined for the hall of fame. Umm, who's hall of fame would that be btw? You threw your credibility in the air with this contradicting article. They were all pre-sold!! Then a whopping 19 of the total, all LHD, for the UK. It was a 'titilation article' only that had a wrong start and contradictory end.

Key specs

  • Price: £41,035
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power: 252bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 152mph
  • Economy/CO2: 32.8mpg/199g/km
  • Equipment: Unique bodykit and paintwork, red headlamps, sports suspension, sports diff, bucket seats, 18-inch wheels
  • On sale: Sold out