The new Audi A1 and A1 Sportback which open for UK ordering later this month have an impressive pedigree. In 2010 their predecessors were born of a refusal to compromise in the translation of everything that defines the largest Audi models into the premium brand’s smallest and most accessible car, helping to make them the choice of over 500,000 customers worldwide since that point. The latest range, the first examples of which will reach the UK next spring, features exterior and interior styling enhancements, specification upgrades and new or improved engines, including in the longer term the first ever three-cylinder petrol unit in the Audi range. These improve fuel economy by up to eight per cent and trim CO2 output to as little as 92g/km.
With its sharp yet clean lines, balanced proportions and distinctive detailing the A1 already cuts an imposing figure on the road which belies its size. The latest versions of the three-door and five-door Sportback build on this with the help of a new flatter and wider singleframe grille, new bumpers, new standard alloy wheel designs and a choice of new colours.
Powering the first UK-bound versions of these new models will be a choice of two TFSI petrol engines or a TDI diesel which are now compliant with the latest EU6 emissions regulations and which offer more power, improved economy and in the majority of cases lower emissions than their predecessors. The petrol duo comprises two versions of the turbocharged 1.4-litre TFSI – the ‘standard’ unit with power up from 122PS to 125PS and CO2 down from 124g/km to 115g and the ‘Cylinder-on-Demand’ alternative now offering 150PS with CO2 output of 112g/km
The 1.6 TDI retains its place as the efficiency trailblazer in the range, with CO2 output in this latest version reduced from 99g/km to 92g/km in both body styles and economy potential increased from 74.3mpg to up to 80.7mpg according to the combined cycle test.
In the spring of 2015 a new turbocharged and directly injected petrol engine - the first with a three-cylinder configuration ever to feature in the Audi range – will become available in the UK, and will come closer than ever to achieving TDI-style frugality. Provisional data for the A1 1.0 TFSI indicates that it will be capable of returning at least 60mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, yet with 95PS – a 6PS increase over the 1.2 TFSI that it replaces – will also deliver suitably peppy performance.
Depending on version, all engines will be linked to either a five-speed or six-speed manual transmission as standard, and for the first time all, including the 1.6 TDI, will also be available with the option of a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission.
As before, the SE, Sport and S line specification levels that make up the latest UK range feature specific suspension set-ups – SE versions run on more comfort-oriented dynamic suspension, Sport models have a firmer sports configuration which has been revised to increase its absorbency and S line versions ride even lower on S line sports suspension. Customers choosing the Sport option can dial back to the even more supple dynamic suspension at no cost if preferred, and the set-up in S line versions can also be taken back one or two steps to either the ‘standard’ sports suspension or the dynamic suspension, also at no cost.
Alternatively, to extract every last ounce of agility, control and composure available from this accomplished chassis a new suspension option including adjustable dampers is also now available for Sport models and above.
The steering has also received an upgrade as part of the package of improvements for the latest range. The new electromechanical system provides the driver with optimal assistance in all driving situations, reducing its assistance as vehicle speed increases.
Both the steering and the optional suspension with adjustable damping are controllable via the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system, which is a new standard feature for A1 Sport models upwards. It allows the driver to vary the weighting or the damping characteristics across three modes – auto, dynamic and efficiency – and it can also adjust the operating parameters of the engine and the S tronic transmission, where this is fitted.
In the spacious and sophisticated interior the ambiance has also been lifted even further by additional chrome and high gloss black detailing, new upholstery choices including an Alcantara and leather blend and new upholstery colours, such as Laser blue for Sport models and Rotor grey for S line models, which until now have had an exclusively black finish.
Features common to all versions include alloy wheels, remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front windows and mirrors and a six-speaker single CD audio system with auxiliary iPod connection linked to a 6.5-inch retractable display. A secondary collision brake assist system also now joins this list for the latest range, which can initiate automatic braking to reduce the risks of skidding and additional collisions during an accident.
The latest Sport models now include Audi drive select plus the Audi Music Interface and preparation for SD card-based navigation, and already featured upgrades such as larger 16-inch wheels, sports suspension, sports seats, Bluetooth mobile phone preparation and a Driver’s Information System.
On top of this, S line versions now benefit from standard xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, further enhancing an additional specification which already included 17-inch alloy wheels, exclusive S line exterior styling and interior detailing, S line sports suspension and leather and cloth combination upholstery.
To these already extensive equipment lists customers can add an array of high-end options, including three cost effective packages which are either newly created for the latest range or further enhanced by additional items.
The Tech pack now includes Audi connect to bring numerous internet-based services to the car, and already offered the Audi Music Interface and MMI navigation plus combining a 40GB hard drive for upgraded navigation and music storage with a higher resolution colour monitor.
The Comfort pack adds a Driver’s Information System and a high beam assistant for automatic activation and deactivation of main beam headlights when sensors detect leading or oncoming traffic. It already included cruise control, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and sensors for parking (at the rear), headlights and wipers.
The Audi S1 and S1 Sportback with 231PS and quattro permanent all-wheel drive remain as the performance flagships of the new range. Their 2.0 TFSI engine produces 231PS and 370 Nm (272.9 lb-ft) of torque, enabling the three-door version to sprint from rest to 62mph in 5.8 seconds (Sportback 5.9) and to reach a top speed of 155mph.
The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system transfers engine power to all four wheels, and the S specific sports suspension with its specially developed pivot bearings at the front and a sophisticated four-link rear set-up deliver outstanding dynamic performance. Audi drive select and adjustable shock absorbers are standard.
Exterior and interior details emphasise the position which the S1 and S1 Sportback hold in their segment, as does their extensive specification, which now also includes the Audi Music Interface and navigation preparation in line with Sport and S line versions.