Monday, August 30, 2010
Audi A1 Review
Audi A1 :A proper Audi in miniature. That's the idea of the Audi A1 which, its creator claims, is the first compact car in the premium sector. Is Audi seriously ignoring the Mini, the Alfa Mito, the socially mobile Citroën DS3? First off, a red one with silver roof hoops and a 122bhp, 1.4-litre, turbocharged engine. It looks neat, uncluttered, taut, confident, with a shorter front overhang than today's droopy norm. The look will age well.
The wheels are set more widely apart than the Polo's, the suspension is a little firmer, and the body sits a little lower on the wide wheels. The scope for personalising the decor is considerable, with various electronic enhancements including a hefty drive for music files whose album covers can be displayed, Apple CoverFlow fashion.
Audi A1 A five-door version arrives later. That it will be the only transmission offered in the future 180bhp, turbo-and-supercharged version is a shame. It seems there is no manual gearbox able both to fit the 1.4-litre engine and handle the "hot" version's hefty torque output.
It's an excellent small car and an excellent Audi A1, and I like it.
Audi will challenge BMW's Mini Cooper and the BMW 1-Series with a premium subcompact of its own.
The 2010 Audi A1's basic design will doubtless borrow heavily from parent VW's European-market Polo, but will likely not be a retrimmed version of that small hatchback. A current example is the VW Eos retractable hardtop convertible, which blends structural elements of the compact Rabbit/Jetta and midsize Passat, but has no Audi counterpart.
Have we reached Peak Supermini? MINI, MiTo, Polo, Panda, 500, Clio, Fiesta, DS3, Yaris… The facia combines Audi's exemplary switches and dials with the Polo's bullet-proof build quality. The penalty is a lack of storage space around the front-seat passengers, with tiny door pockets. There are three four-cylinder engines – two turbo petrol units (1.2, 85bhp and 1.4, 120bhp) and a 104bhp, 1.6 turbodiesel. The 1.2 and 1.6 engines have five-speed transmissions, while the 1.4 comes with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed, twin-clutch auto (a £1,420 option).