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New Audi A1 Citycarver 2020 review

The new jacked-up Audi A1 Citycarver brings SUV looks to the supermini sector

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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While the Audi A1 Citycarver is an easy car to like, it’s a harder proposition to justify given that the only real benefit that it offers over the standard A1 Sportback is a slightly softer, more comfortable ride. You’ll have to really like the SUV-style design add-ons to justify the price, but for those who will buy one, it’ll fulfill the brief nicely.

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The SUV boom is so far-reaching and such a successful money-spinner that brands are now injecting more ‘lifestyle’ into conventional cars to boost profit-making potential.

Take Audi and the A1 Citycarver. Essentially it’s a standard A1 Sportback supermini with around 4cm more ground clearance and a ‘robust off-road look’, according to Audi. So some psuedo-SUV black plastic wheelarch cladding, then.

Best superminis available

It is in effect a trim level of the A1 range, and is available with the 35 TFSI engine, or this 30 TFSI unit we’re testing here. That denotes Audi’s 114bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol, which comes with a six-speed manual gearbox.

The powertrain is as good here as it is in a regular A1 – smooth, torquey and refined, with a nice, slick gearshift. The 0-62mph sprint takes 9.5 seconds, which is quick enough, while the cabin offers enough space; combined with the 335-litre boot, it’s practical.

What is different to the regular A1 is the ride. With that extra suspension travel to soak up bumps, the Citycarver feels softer and more settled. There’s no loss of steering precision, grip or poise, just a more forgiving edge to the damping, which is as much a bonus on B-roads and motorways as it is in the car’s intended environment: around town.

Citycarvers feature LED lights, different trim on the grille, sports seats, an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system coupled with a 10.25-inch digital dash, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, cruise control, parking sensors and – a must for any city car – autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, so they’re pretty well equipped.

But then you’d hope so for the price. The Citycarver costs £1,400 more than an A1 Sport, which comes with a similar level of kit. It’s on this basis that it’s difficult to recommend the Citycarver over the standard car, especially given the fact that some interior materials feel less than premium given the A1 Citycarver’s price, even if it’s clear the tech offering is the best in this class.

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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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