Although Audi modestly terms this A1 quattro a prototype‚ in our opinion, it’s certainly ready for the showroom. So it’s a shame we’ll have to wait a year for the finished car. The fun of the 182bhp 1.4-litre TFSI engine is enhanced with quattro traction and stability, and the subtly updated body and cabin strike the right balance. The blend of small car luxury, performance and four-wheel-drive traction is a desirable one, although for most buyers, the front-drive version (due in a few months’ time) will be the one to go for.
Meet the baby Quattro with serious bite! Packing a 182bhp 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged engine, along with four-wheel-drive traction, this is the fastest and most capable Audi A1
The grippy pocket rocket goes on sale early next year – but Auto Express got behind the wheel for an early drivein a prototype on snow-covered roads in Canada. Is it the ultimate all-weather hot hatch?
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi A1
Following in the wheeltracks of the range-topping front-wheel- drive A1 1.4 TFSI – revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September and on sale later this year – the A1 quattro, which uses the same engine, is aimed at buyers who want maximum traction in all conditions.
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Used car tests
And it certainly delivers. With the engine’s impressive power output going to every wheel, the car gives you so much more confidence than a regular front-wheel-drive version, even with ESP.
The A1 quattro uses the latest version of quattro all-wheel drive for smaller cars, first seen on the TT and hotter TT-RS, so it is a dynamic package we already know well. But in a smaller
car, it’s even more fun.
Power and torque can be swapped 100 per cent front to rear instantly – and there was no time on either the cold, hard tarmac or on the snow-packed ice track when we felt out of control, the A1 behaving predictably and safely. The engine is very impressive, too. There’s a wide power band and really punchy performance all the way to the 7,000rpm red line. Audi quotes a rapid 0-62mph time of only 6.9 seconds, and it feels every bit as quick as the figures suggest, while 250Nm of torque available from only 1,500rpm makes for easy overtaking manoeuvres.
Beyond the performance improvements over the standard car, the body gets a sinister extended rear roof spoiler. On the inside, the backs of the seats are coloured the same as the exterior paintwork – rust orange in the case of our car. The cabin is also available in sporty S line trim. With Alcantara suede touches, it really is a smart place to be.
When the A1 quattro arrives in the UK next year, it will be available with 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, with 17- and 18-inch rims as options – the same as on the front-wheel-drive machine.
Part of the reason for the delay in bringing the four-wheel-drive model to our shores is that Audi will time its launch to coincide with the S1 quattro flagship, which will feature a 220bhp 1.6-litre TFSI engine.
Another reason is that a six-speed next-generation automatic will also be ready by then as an option.
The quattro set-up is not solely planned for the 1.4 TFSI engine trim, but also for the 1.6 TDI. Expect to pay about a £1,500 premium for all-wheel drive. That’s certainly not cheap, but if you live in the wetter or colder parts of the country – or you simply want the security that quattro brings – this little machine comes highly recommended.