One for the road

By Nick Jones

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 23rd October 2011, 1:46 pm

We all know that Audi make big cars nowadays – the A8, A6, Q7 and Q5 for example.

I remember driving the much smaller A2 at its launch in Scotland.

But here we have Audi’s smallest so far, the A1.

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In a world that demands Tardis-like space from the smallest possible external footprint, it has actually taken the public a long time to accept that small doesn’t mean cheap.

And the A1 offers big car quality in a small package at a price that defines the mantra.

The range starts at £13,400, quite high when compared with, say, the cheapest Renault Clio at £8585.

So, it’s not cheap. But is it worth the money.

It carries all the bigger Audi cahracter traitsw in the looks department, the large Audi grille at the front really standing out on such a small car.

It has the prowling eye-look of a predator with the headlamps, and a sloping bonnet.

Just one door each side, slightly fluted arches and plenty of glass space.

At the rear, things get sleeker, with thinner rear light lenses and a cute roundness, but all still very Audi stable – the brand image being very carefully retained.

You can have a choice currently of four power plants, from the 1.2 TFSI in SE, Sport or S-Line guises, which pumps out 84bhp.

Next up is the more powerful 121bhp 1.4 version, in which you can have an automatic gearbox in the Sport and S-Line derivatives.

As the 1.4 TSFI the engine delivers a stonking 185bhp which you can have a four-wheel-drive version if you opt for the Audi’s legendary Quattro.

Diesel is saved for the 1.6 TDI, available in SE, Sport and S-Line variations.

On the road, the 185 will deliver 0-60mph in just 6.9 seconds and a top speed on the naughty side 140mph; pocket rocket is a phrase that springs to mind.

Emissions are very good through Audi’s green technology, they range from just 118 to 140g/km, and even the 185bhp version can achieve over 45 miles to the gallon so heaven only knows what the diesels and lower-output petrol’s can achieve.

Internally, at the risk of sounding repetitive and boring, it’s very Audi – all the traditional dials, switches and stalks are here, the familiar controls for the stereo and windows, the seats and seating position et al; indeed, you could be sitting in any Audi you care to mention.

Build quality is mesmerizing for such a small car, and on that subject it’s only when you look over your left shoulder you realise that this is the smallest car in the Audi line-up.

But it’s big on space.

Is it worth the money? Well, there’s no gimmickry. Residuals are likely to be good and its engineered to Audi’s usual German high standards... In short, it does what it says in the brochure. And very well.