The Audi A1….is it up to scratch?

By Philip Hedderman
There’s nothing more despicable than a coward.
Now, we’re not talking cowardice on the battlefield or indeed in the theatre of sport.
No. It’s far more serious than that.
We are talking about the sub human species who clips a car and quietly snibbles off without saying a word.
Unfortunately, they don’t have horns or prickly skin, but they do possess the morals of a sewer rat and the principles of a common criminal.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the ODC (ordinary decent criminal), but hanging is too good for these repugnant creatures.
Anyway, I being forced to relive the trauma by writing these very words which brings the rage flooding back.
Thankfully that rage has subsided and what remains now is just a sickness in the pit of my stomach.
Wracked with guilt, I must take full responsibility and for that I apologise.
What makes being a victim of a random act of vandalism almost impossible to bear is the sneaking suspicion that the odious reptile responsible actually got some enjoyment from it.
You see the car in question was none other that the fabulous new Audi A1.
A creation of modern beauty.
A piece of automotive engineering to behold …  a splash of colour in an otherwise grey world.
It can create a myriad of emotions from lust to love to envy.
Enough envy to disfigure such a work of art? – almost certainly.
Billed as the ‘next big thing for Audi’, this little dynamo will literally blow you away.
Take the retro design – young and funky, yet undoubtedly Audi.
It’s the ultimate city car for the ultimate city slicker.
The compact, uber sporty look, which can be altered to suit taste or need is sure to appeal to young professionals, especially women.
Colour coded exteriors (including alloy wheels matching the roof arch) as well as interiors work really well and makes it stand out from the crowd.
But it’s inside where the fashionistas will be truly smitten.
Luxury two-tone bucket seats awaits the dinkiest of derrieres while a sporty dash is both functional and heaving with technology.
Take the optional Concert radio system (€576) complete with fold-out 6.5inch colour screen which allows the driver to access all the car’s settings including hands-free phone, radio, CD, MP3 and SDHC memory card reader.
The on-board computer is also displayed including digital speedo, and technical data like fuel consumption which I thought was faulty as the reading hardly changed.
The 1.6 litre 105bhp diesel powerplant, although a little raspy for some Vorsprung aficionados, is both nippy and more that capable both on motorway and meandering country roads.
But this compact gem is more about fun than refinement and the throaty growl adds to the experience.
It’s a driver’s car and comes into its own when pushed a little harder – but don’t expect any real madness.
Some die hard hot hatch fans will be disappointed, as it is what it is – even if it looks a little more.
The entry level 1.2 litre TFSi petrol unit churning out 86bhp is a tad dull.
That said, the 1.4 petrol TFSi does up the ante with 122 bhp and a 0-60 in just over 9 seconds.
But diesel is the buzzword in Ireland today, and Audi will be pushing the oil burner.
Thanks to stop/start technology it is returning a class-beating 60 plus mpg while keeping emissions down to an astounding 103g/km.
This translates into road tax of just €104 per year.
Designed to be different, A1 is a serious contender to the Mini range and will undoubtedly give its German cousin a run for its money, but be careful of the Audi extras list.
The Ai range starts at €18,995, but for the sport model shown, it’ll cost an extra €9,000 on stuff you can’t see.
The Sport model I tested cost €23,550 and standard equipment includes 17’inch alloys, air con, ESP, driver information system, electric mirrors, electric windows, sport seats, fog lights, sports suspension and stop/start.
The €4,454 options list included;
Electric heated mirrors – €135
Xenon Lights with LED daytime running lights – €1,219
Audi Bluetooth – €406
Concert Radio System – €576
Multi Function Steering Wheel – €176
Contrast roof line in Silver –  €475
Climate Control – €475
Audi sound system upgrade – €340.
That brought the price up to a whopping €28,004.