Driven: 2019 Audi A1 Sportback
The Audi A1 made its local debut back in 2011. Since then, Audi South Africa has sold 13,700 units of their baby hatchback. It’s been seven years since, and the Audi A1 has certainly been spending a lot of time in the gym because the second-generation A1 certainly looks the part. But looks don’t mean everything. We wanted to feel what it was like to drive the new A1, so we headed to the local launch and found out.
The Audi A1 has a funky attitude to it. The sporty design is inspired by new age gaming and technology, with roots based in Audi’s Motorsport heritage. The second-generation A1 is longer than the previous model which opens up a lot of space for the driver and passengers. The overall feel is that Audi wants the A1 to appeal to younger, trendy buyers. This choice probably also played a major role in their decision to offer the A1 in 10 colours, including Turbo Blue and Python Yellow. These vibrant colour give the car an energetic aura while emphasizing the lines and edges, of which there are plenty, around the car.
Audi showcases the design of the Audi A1 on the ‘Edition #1’ model. It’s based on the S Line model and is exclusively available in Python Yellow, complemented by gloss black details on the roof, side mirrors and my most favourite bit, blacked out badges all around the car. The Edition #1 model also features tint on the new head and taillights, which now feature a unique signature exclusive to the A1. In fact, every new Audi will come with its own individual light signature on the daytime running LED’s. To complete the look, Audi has added a set of 18-inch alloy wheels to the Edition #1.
The increased length has also benefited the interior of the new Audi A1 Sportback. The leg room inside is much more accommodating, and the boot capacity has also increased by a massive 65-litres, bringing the total boot capacity up to 335-litres which can go up further to 1090-litres when the seats are folded. The cabin up front is in line with other modern Audi models, with a sporty and tech orientated interior that’s focused on the driver. A new digital cockpit is fitted as standard across the entire model range, which is split up between Standard, Advanced and S Line models. Buyers also have the choice to build their A1’s with the optional Virtual Cockpit that relays information on speed, revs, navigation, media and vehicle information to the driver.
On the passenger side there’s a new air vent integrated into the dashboard, giving the cabin a premium look. The new Audi MMI is fitted as standard, but if buyers need navigation functionality as well then they can opt for the Audi MMI Plus which included a bigger touch screen display, supporting Audi’s 30-colour ambient lighting and the powerful optional Bang and Olufsen sound system. The MMI also supports USB, Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I personally enjoyed the sport seats in the Audi A1 which are crafted with a blend of leather and fabric and feature an intricate pattern on them, complemented by decorative accents that can be finished in silver, yellow or mint.
At launch there are three engines available. The entry level Audi A1 30 TFSI is powered by 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine producing 85kW of power. The volume model is the A1 35 TFSI, powered by the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine producing 110kW of power. The range topping model produces a meaty 147kW of power from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. All models are equipped with a 6-speed S Tronic automatic transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.
We spent most of the day in the Audi A1 40 TFSI which surprised us with its eager performance and dynamics. It feels nimble and light on its feet and puts it power down very aggressively. Overall, the A1 seems to be the perfect car for a younger person. Its stylish, comfortable, and in the case of the 147kW model, powerful too. We also tested the efficiency of the A1 on the highway and it felt very comfortable cruising at speed. Adaptive cruise control would have been a good feature to include on the A1 but it would have likely brought an increase in costs.
Verdict: The Audi A1 is a great compact hatchback. It’s potential is seen even better on the 40 TFSI model where it earns hot-hatch status.