Tested: Audi A1 1.8 TFSi Sportback

The boutique quality

The Audi A1 first saw the light of day in 2010 so – as is the way with modern cars – it was recently upgraded to give it an automotive shot in the arm before the new version comes along in a few years. I’ve learnt quite a number of things about this car since 2010 and also after my recent test of this A1 1.8 TFSi Sportback.

The very first thing I need to inform you of is that an A1 may be one of the most expensive cars when considering its size but it’s probably the most luxurious and refined automobile in this segment. Audi made darn sure that you can feel and see where your money went with this premium compact hatch.

Recent updates mostly glossed over styling or drastic changes in the looks department, instead focusing on the car’s technology and engineering to bring it in line with bigger Audis. New engines gave birth to the S1 (read our report here), as well as a 3-cylinder turbo-petrol and this new 1.8 TFSi.

I also learnt that some people ask if you can swing a cat inside an A1? In a word, yes, although you’ll be nailed for animal cruelty. I wouldn’t call it roomy but looking at the car’s exterior, you wouldn’t believe how many people and things fit inside. Added to the cabin’s excellent quality, it almost feels like Audi is showing off.

Choose the regular A1 (2-door) if you’re single or childless, go for this Sportback if you require the use of rear doors. In either case, what will greet you behind said openings is the highest level of German solidity and quality ergonomics. Everything fits, operates, clicks, moves, opens and shuts beautifully.

Another thing I learnt is that the A1 isn’t always bought by its intended target market. You know – young, successful, city-dwelling trend-setters with boutique wardrobes. Well, my aunt bought one because she wanted a quality, small, automatic car and she’s neither young nor dressed like a cover girl.

The other observation I’ve made is that these little Audis congregate in student towns when Dads spoil their (mostly female) offspring. Although a new Polo (which it’s based on) might do, an A1 can be justified by well-off fathers with the car’s superior equipment, fantastic brand CSI, resale values, safety and comfort levels.

Which brings me to another lesson. If at all possible, stay away from sport kits of any kind, especially in relation to a car’s size and age. The smaller and newer it is, the more irritating its solid suspension and big wheels will be. Yes, those rims look fantastic but, except on perfectly smooth roads, they’ll drive you nuts.

What would’ve also driven me nuts with our press car was its black on black with added blackness. Maybe that works in Finland, or Scotland. Siberia, too. But Namibia? The least imaginative and reflective colour I’d choose would be silver, first choices being red with a white roof and dark decals.

The point here is that you can highly customize an A1 to your liking. As already mentioned, this test car was a black 1.8 TFSi S-Tronic (automatic) S-Line (sport kit) with black interior, black roof and black decals. The 1,794cc four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine kicks out 141kw (192hp) or 250Nm from 1,250 to 5,300rpm.

That means it has heaps of low to mid-range torque and never struggles for power, no matter the gear or current speed. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds (we clocked 6.85), 235km/h top speed and average consumption of 5.6L/100km. In town, forget about that figure. On the open road, it’s easier to reach.

The S-Line pack, Audi Drive Select (drive train response modes) and S-Tronic shift paddles can turn this little Audi into a naughty rascal, zipping through corners with excellent grip and that amazingly broad range of power to exploit. If you can’t afford the S1 (which I consider overpowered), this will do very nicely.

Another experience is that Audi charges quite a bit for its tasty options but you’ll find plenty of modern safety and luxury features in this A1 1.8 TFSI’s base price of N$390,000. That includes Audi’s 5-year/100,000km Freeway Plan and as a final tip, you’ll save N$7,500 if you go for the two-door version.


Gallery


Performance

0-10km/h: 0.58 seconds
0-20km/h: 1.14 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.71 seconds
0-40km/h: 2.27 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.82 seconds
0-60km/h: 3.37 seconds
0-70km/h: 4.11 seconds
0-80km/h: 4.97 seconds
0-90km/h: 5.88 seconds
0-100km/h: 6.85 seconds
0-110km/h: 7.99 seconds
0-120km/h: 9.34 seconds
0-130km/h: 10.78 seconds
0-140km/h: 12.35 seconds

0-100m: 6.73seconds @ 97.05km/h
0-200m: 9.99seconds @ 122.24km/h
0-300m: 12.72seconds @ 140.75km/h
0-400m: 15.16seconds @ 153.58km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.63G

Altitude: 51m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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