By GUILHERME MARQUES
The A1 had three doors and it was good. Now it has five and it is even better.
The Audi A1 has now been on the market for nearly two years and it is nothing short of a resounding success. Audi even had to increase the little car’s production numbers as demand was higher than anticipated. The small Audi is on its way to becoming the biggest selling model ever to come out of Ingolstadt (Germany).
The truth is, it is not hard to understand why. The concept behind the ‘baby’ Audi was very appealing: create a small car with a premium feel that would be a statement of a certain urban lifestyle.
If anyone could get it right, it had to be the Volkswagen Group. And they did it remarkably well – it is very easy to fall in love with the A1 as in every tangible aspect this is pure Audi; in fact the A1 can even teach its big brothers a few things about being cool without trying too hard.
The Algarve Resident has tried two different engines – the 1.6 TDI with 110 horse power (hp) and the 1.4 TFSi producing 122hp. Both are great units but the diesel version combines better fuel consumption with excellent performance and that would be our choice.
Fast and precise
On the road, the A1 feels light on its ‘feet’ and very nimble around town. The ride quality is very good with the suspension finding a good compromise between comfort and sportiness.
The steering is light and not very communicative, but compensates by being fast and precise.
The 1.6 TDi came with the five speed manual gearbox, which worked rather well but we wouldn’t criticise anyone for choosing the excellent S-Tronic seven speeder. It provides an even more relaxed way of travelling.
Now travelling is something that the Audi does remarkably well for such a small car. At motorway speeds, the A1 never loses its composure and we sometimes have to check if we are not in an A3, such is the ability of the smaller Audi to rack up the kilometres.
As if the A1 was not shaking the market enough, Audi has just launched the five-door version, or in Audi speak, the Sportback.
With the same length as the three-door version, the Sportback is considerably more practical and can carry five adults with ease.
There is also 10mm more head and elbow room at the back. The two additional doors bring yet another rational element into the equation when the time comes to buy a new car. And if the A1 was selling like hot rolls even when it wasn’t easy to put the kids and the dog in the back, what will it do to the competition now?
Audi says two thirds of A1 customers will now opt for the Sportback – and it is easy to see why: the exterior design is only slightly different, you still get the best interior in its class, plus more space and practicality, all for a starting price of €19,765.
Disappointment-proof? It sure seems like it.