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.

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