Through careful cultivation, the Audi A1 hatch (Sportback in Audi-speak) sets out to be every buyer’s new best friend. And because the maker spent lots of time and pots of money on feedback from potential buyers, mainly male says Audi, it might just have hit the sales jackpot.
The result is the MY19 (say MY20) Sportback, due to high demand around the world, only recently dropped in Down Under. The second-generation A1 comes with three petrol drivetrains, all with direct injection and turbocharging, linking optimum performance with fuel efficiency.
We tried out the mid-range variant, the 35 TFSI, powered by a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged intercooled engine with innovative design made of composite material. Peak power is 110 kW and top torque of 250 Nm from a nicely low 1500 rpm. The motor is mated with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The mid-range A1 Sportback, at $35,290, plus on-road costs, lives up to expectations of a premium compact vehicle with a high level of standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, powered and heated outside mirrors, DAB+ digital radio, with six-speaker audio, multi-function steering wheel and cruise control with speed limiter.
There’s a convenience key, wireless smart phone charging and auto dimming interior mirror. The test car, however, was complemented with a Style package 2 ($2990) adding LED headlamps with rear dynamic indicators, LED colour interior lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels, plus heated, power adjustable, folding exterior mirrors with passenger-side kerb view.
Technik and Premium Plus packages are also available for some models.
The A1 Sportback is offered with the Audi service plan package, at $1480, for three years, or $1990 for five.
With male buyers firmly in mind, the A1 Sportback has taken on a more aggressive demeanour. In the eight years since it first appeared, the car has grown considerably, with the latest design taking on the looks of the legendary Audi Sport quattro.
The busy front takes away some of the sameness about earlier Audi models, adding its own character, which is undeniably sporty. This was emphasised even more with the test car being fitted with the Audi Style package 2 ($2990), which included 18-inch Sport alloy wheels, LED headlamps and rear dynamic indicators.
Exterior heated mirrors folded away and incorporated a view of the kerb on the passenger side when reversing.
Occupants are the ones to gain in the new car’s expansion over the previous model, with additional head (7 mm), shoulder (36 mm) and elbow (29 mm) room. Wheelbase extended by 94 mm makes a difference also.
Seats are set low, sports style, and the steering column offers generous telescoping adjustment. Instruments are driver-centric and storage includes bottle holders in the front doors. Pity about the tiny centre console offering.
These days, infotainment and connectivity are paramount in any vehicle, with the latest technology available from the entry-level A1 up.
Apple Carplay and Android auto are on offer, while the Audi MMI system is displayed and controlled via an 8.8-inch touchscreen, and driving info projected clearly on a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.
Available with the 35 TFSI and standard on the 40 TFSI is MMI Navigation plus, with 10.1-inch touchscreen, Audi virtual cockpit, 3-D navigation with Google Earth mapping and wireless connectivity.
Audi connect plus uses online connection to the driver for such things as fuel pricing, parking information, weather and destination entry via Google maps on a smartphone, plus the ability to pinpoint traffic jams.
In Australia, this connects to the Telstra mobile network for data services, the cost being covered in the price of the vehicle for at least the first three years of ownership.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged intercooled engine is of innovative design and made of composite material. Peak power is 110 kW and top torque of 250 Nm from a low 1500 rpm. The motor is mated with a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission.
Audi A1 Sportback has earned a five-star safety rating thanks to a suite of innovative driver assistance systems designed to protect occupants as well as pedestrians and cyclists.
These include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and advanced pre-sensing features. There are six airbags, plus Isofix points on the outer rear seats.
Parking in tight spots is made easier with front and rear sensors and reversing camera standard across the full A1 range.
There is little to fault in the way the new 1.5-litre TFSI turbocharged engine and seven-speed S tronic transmission go about their business, the A1 happy to engage in stop-start city traffic but with a little extra to please the driving enthusiast on the open road.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.8 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. The test car came up with around seven litres in the city and five litres at motorway speeds.
Ride and handling are top notch, the car showing little tendency to come unstuck even when pushed to the limit on fast bends and undulating country roads.
However, there was some noise from around the exterior mirrors and varying amounts of road noise, depending on coarseness of the surface.
Audi says the second-generation A1 Sportback is roomier than its predecessor and, at 335 litres, has more luggage space, the downside being the replacement of a spare wheel by a tyre inflator.
Behind the front seats things take on a mixed message. Head room is okay, but leg room is lacking and the cargo area is a squeeze to take anything bigger than a couple of small travel bags, or minor shopping. The small door opening also creates some difficulty getting in and out of the back.
Little touches like convenience key, Audi phone box light wireless smartphone charging and auto-dimming interior mirror set the A1 apart from many of its rivals in the market segment.
The new A1 Sport back has a larger interior than the first-generation A3 and is only slightly smaller than the second-generation Audi A3, making for a versatile vehicle particularly suited to city and suburban conditions, all with a pinch of performance spice.
AT A GLANCE
Audi A1 30 TFSI Sportback $32,350
Audi A1 35 TFSI Sportback $35,290
Audi A1 40 TFSI Sportback $46,450
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi A1 35 TFSI 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol, S tronic 7sp automatic, 5dr Sportback)
Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 5000-6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 1500-3500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.8 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 132 g / km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed S tronic 7-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4029 mm
Wheelbase: 1524 mm
Width: 1740 mm
Height: 1433 mm
Turning Circle: 10.5 metres
Kerb Mass: 1240 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 40 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres