Audi A1 Sport tested in Australia by an Australian

A new writer joins the Next Gear team, Blake lives in Australia and will be bringing us road tests from there…Huraaah!

 

Audi A1 Sport (185bhp) TFSI 3-door

Road tested by Blake James.

Sydney, Australia.

 

IMG_1046

AUDI ADD SOME SPICE TO WHAT WAS AN ALREADY TASTY PROPOSITION.

 

Base price: AUD $42,500 Price as tested: AUD $48,440 before on road costs (metallic paint, electric sunroof panoramic glass, S-Line sport package with 18” Audi exclusive 5 arm rotor wheels by Quattro GmbH.

 

Standard features: 8 speaker Audi Concert stereo, climate control, rear park distance control, cruise control, Bi-Xenon headlamps with daytime running lights, sports leather steering wheel, automatic wipers, sports seats, power windows, 7-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission, bluetooth audio streaming.

 

Pros: Cracking engine, sweet steering and Audi practicality

Cons: Tall people will feel a little cramped on longer journeys.

 

 IMG_1045

 

Audi has delivered a sportier, faster version of the 122bhp petrol A1. Power is up 33bhp, and torque up 60Nm, so you get 185bhp and 260Nm of torque. This all comes from a supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre direct injection petrol engine.

 

Coupled with the optional S-Line suspension, the A1 Sports road manners are in some ways like Audi’s faster S-models (S5, S6 etc). The steering is quite meaty and feels satisfyingly heavy, even around town. It doesn’t always tell you exactly what the front wheels are doing, however you do feel connected to the road somehow – unusual for an Audi.

 

The extra spice can be felt when you take the car around a corner. The fat 18” Bridgestone tyres let you take winding bends at outrageous seed, and yet although quite firm, the ride softens the final impact of bumps quite well. It has more of a nuggety than harsh feel to it.

 

And because the car is so well screwed together, you rarely hear any rattles or annoying sounds. It sort of feels like a mini rocket wrapped in a massive dollop of refinement.

Surprisingly for a front wheel drive car, it flows around corners with a certain grace, turning in sharply and willingly.  It doesn’t posses the supreme balance of cars with a 50:50 weight distribution and rear wheel drive however. After a few drives, all of this is forgotten, and it is arguably more go-cart like than a Mini.

 

IMG_1039

Engine and Transmission

This is probably the best thing about the A1 Sport. The engine is an absolute screamer. You get 155bhp @ 6200rpm and 250Nm between 1500-4000rpm which equals 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. That is pretty quick. And yet, it only uses a combined average of 47.9mpg, easily achievable. Of course, if you drive with a lead foot, this will increase somewhat, although you still should see 40mpg.

 

The engine has a delicious thrum from low revs that is actually the sound of the engine, not the exhaust. The sound gets deeper and louder until about 4500rpm where the thrum turns into a scream all the way to the redline. This is one angry engine. I loved it.

The 7 speed S-Tronic transmission is so flexible it has to be one of the best collaborated semi-automatic gearboxes around. If you doodle around town, it will change up early making the most of the torque, slurring changes imperceptibly and quickly. However, start to play with the throttle and the transmission will start to hold the gears longer, especially out of corners. Most customers will not need to take the transmission out of ‘D’, as it is so well sorted.

 

However, if you are feeling completely mental, slide the gear lever into ‘S’ and the gearbox will hold the gears all the way to the redline. It really is a very aggressive gear changing strategy. If you’re feeling brave at this point, you can turn the stability program off, which allows for more fun with less intervention from the electronic nanny on board. You’ll be surprised how far this car can be pushed.

 

If you need something in between relaxed and mental, you can slide the gear leaver to the left (or right in Ireland). Here, you can change the gears yourself, which is actually quite satisfying, and allows you to keep the engine between 2500-4500rpm, where it sounds best.

 

IMG_1049

Practicality

Here you will find the Sport is mostly the same as the garden variety versions of the A1. It has folding rear seats, a reasonable sized boot, plenty of space up front, four cup holders, a decent glove box, storage bins, and four way adjustable front seats with lumbar support.

The front seats will fold forward allowing access to the rear. When combined with the folding rear seats, you can make a fairly big cubby hole in which to store various things. I had a large rug and a bike that went in no problems at all.

 

The carpet and interior surfaces also hold up well to daily abuse. As an everyday proposition, it is actually very easy to live with. However, very tall passengers might find the ergonomics a little compromising on longer trips. If you have children, you should check out the Audi A1 Sportback, with its two extra doors.

 

Design

Audi has played it safe in that it looks classy and understated – like every other Audi. Some options like the colored roof arches can add a bit of zest to the look. The optional S-Line sports package fitted to my test car, including 18” wheels lends a racing flair to the car, especially from the rear three quarter view. The daytime running lights expand the front of the car to make it look wider than it really is.

 

Inside, typical Audi quality is evident everywhere, from the gorgeous aluminum door handles, to the air vents, and the air conditioning controls pinched from the Audi R8. The whole cabin flows and Audi has cleverly moulded the angles of key interior surfaces to create different variations of cabin ambience depending on the light coming into the car. It all feels classy, high quality and if you don’t turn around, you can be forgiven for thinking you’re in a much larger Audi.

 

Verdict

This is an incredibly rounded product, and one that makes allot of sense, on allot of levels day after day. It is allot of car for not allot of money.

 

Yes, it’s VW brethren is cheaper. A fast Renault is well, allot faster. And a BMW 118i has better weight distribution so the steering feels more joyful. But in the Audi you get more refinement than the VW or Renault, a nicer engine and gearbox than in the BMW, and a stunning ownership proposition. Highly recommended.

 

 

IMG_1048

  

 

 

  • Perry

    great article (and car) – well done down under

  • DCW123

    Great review… The Aussies are talented