Driven: Audi A1 35 TFSI
Ah, December. One of the most magical times of the year. ‘Work’ doesn’t exist, the kids are off from school and you’re surrounded by friends and family for most of your days. The cherry on top of all this is usually a fun-filled family road trip to a far-away city to soak up the sun and get some sand in your toes. This is exactly what we did with the Audi A1 35 TFSI during our extended test in December.
A road trip from Johannesburg to Durban is cool, but the Audi A1 deserves more than just ‘cool’. That’s why we planned our road trip to take us from Johannesburg to Durban, back to Johannesburg and then further up north to Mpumalanga. We didn’t want to settle for average, and this 4,400-kilometer trip was going to be far from that. To make things even more interesting, the A1 would have to accommodate a family of four – two adults and two kids, complete with luggage, pillows, blankets and snacks.
The Audi A1 is Audi’s smallest car, yet it managed to swallow up all our luggage after a few minutes of shifting everything around in a little game of boot-Tetris. The cabin was just as accommodating, offering ample head, leg and shoulder room for the entire family, which was key to maintaining the peace with the younger passengers who tend to get a bit fussy in confined spaces. Driver and passenger room was enough to prevent numb legs as the kilometres were covered and even enough for the passenger to comfortably catch up on some sleep.
This was no Bang and Olufsen sound but it still kept the classic road trip karaoke session in full effect when everybody was awake and lively, and later came to the aid of the driver when everyone was asleep. Rotating DJ-duty was simple thanks to the Audi MMI which offers USB, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay support, making sure that everyone had a chance to play their favourite songs. The matrix LED headlights were sublime in the darker hours, providing a great amount of visibility into the distance, and, let’s be honest, the dynamic indicators are just really cool features to have, even if you can’t actually see them while you drive.
Another crucial road trip necessity is fuel consumption. The Audi A1 35 TFSI’s 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine really surprised us after returning an average figure of 7.6-litres/100km. At some point between Johannesburg and Durban, the consumption figure dropped all the way down to 3.9-litres/100km which is extremely impressive considering that the car was carrying four people and our luggage. The 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque was more than enough to reach highway speeds as well as the moments when we had to get in front of the slower moving traffic. To make things even easier the cruise control function was there, keeping our speed constant and the consumption low.
The Audi A1 35 TFSI continued to prove its worth as a great long-distance car with its quiet and comfortable demeanour. Road noise was reduced to a non-intrusive volume while the suspension and tyres minimised the disturbance from bumps and poor quality roads, especially around the Mpumalanga area. The really interesting part is how the Audi A1 manages to turn heads almost everywhere it goes. Whether we were in Johannesburg, Durban or Mpumalanga, people weren’t afraid to spare a few seconds to stare at the A1. Maybe it was the mysterious black colour that intrigued them, or perhaps it was the bold design that caught their eye, or the Audi Quattro inspired grille vents. Either way, everyone loved the Audi A1, and frankly so did we. It was an excellent car that made light work of the 4,400-kilometers that we threw at it.