Putting such a large engine into the A1 doesn’t seem like overkill. Despite its supermini dimensions, the Quattro system ensures that the A1 has the grip to match the power. What’s more, Audi has retained perhaps the A1’s biggest asset – it’s ‘big car’ refinement. But now it has the performance to worry larger rivals too.
At last year’s Paris Motor Show, Audi confirmed there would be a Quattro version of the A1. Then, at the beginning of this year it unveiled a prototype with a 1.4-litre turbo engine, which we drove in the snow in Canada.
But the German firm is set to spice up the A1 line-up even further by dropping a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol unit into the engine bay of its smallest Quattro-equipped car.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi A1
From the outset, the A1 2.0-litre Quattro doesn’t appear much different from its smaller, less powerful siblings. It has all the usual cabin refinements and build quality we’ve come to expect from Audi, and the same, restrained exterior styling.
The difference comes when you take the wheel for the first time. Our car is a prototype, but the retains the A1’s impressive refinement at medium speeds. But just like a junior Golf GTI, once you accelerate hard, the A1 has a serious turn of speed and a vocal exhaust note to match, and all with the reassurance of four-wheel drive grip.
The 2.0-litre petrol is the same 208bhp turbocharged unit that’s used across Audi’s range. In our car, this was coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. No figures have been released, but Audi has said unofficially that a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds is possible, a full second faster than a Golf GTI, and top speed will be electronically limited to 155mph.
What’s more, the 2.0-litre TFSI A1 is tipped to be the first Quattro version of the supermini to arrive in showrooms in early 2012.