Audi A1: new premium small car being tested

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Audi A1
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W everybody has an anonymous cover in an internet forum laid out on the Audi A1 and fired a volley of ridicule. Called it a made-up VW Polo and ridiculed anyone who pays excessive prices for such a glare. Strangely enough, the Mini is cited as a smarter alternative over and over again. Obviously, the fans of the little Brit-Bajuwaren feel pushed into the corner - by the new premium competitor from Ingolstadt, who is competing for the test.

Audi A1 makes it noble

In front the bad Blick, the huge badge nostrils and all around the so-called tornado line - a fold that runs around the Audi A1. Obviously that's enough to stir up the dynamic camp. In addition, the roof pillar in a contrasting color and large wheels, the chic-is-beautiful group feels trodden on their feet. And the reference to the Polo relatives must serve to belittle the newcomer. In the test, the Audi A1 makes it convincingly noble. No other small car welcomes its passengers in such an exquisite environment as the Audi A1. The four ventilation nozzles are reminiscent of turbines, and their cuffs can be configured in different colors. The Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Ambition competing here for the test, i.e. the upscale equipment, is adorned with door sills, rotary controls and light switches in an aluminum look. The steering wheel rim, handbrake handle and gear lever are covered with leather.

Audi succeeded in creating a unique ambience in the A1

No other small car banishes hard plastic as consistently as the Audi A1. In the test, the fingernails have to penetrate deep into the footwell in order to generate a scratchy noise. Full clicking controls, the well-ordered operation, many storage spaces and, last but not least, the generous amount of space at the front actually make the mind doubt the low vehicle category. Audi managed to create a unique ambience here. Euphoric, you want to continue the seat test a row further back - and come up against the limits of the Audi A1 in the test. The upper class resides at the front, the proletariat at the back. The front seats only seem to move forward invitingly. Despite the easy entry function (only from Ambition series), the rear of the Audi A1 wants to be conquered with acrobatics. Elderly should be spared the entrance, there is only enough space for two children, which makes the Audi a two-plus-two-seater.

Adults hit their heads on the steepsloping headliner and soberly register that they have been pushed into the second-class compartment of the A1. The appearance of the material is inversely proportional to the front area - the simplest plastic. Here the Audi is nothing more than typical of its class. Similar to the Mini, the back seat will mostly remain empty.

Sports seats and suspension are standard from Ambition

Second parallel: The Audi A1 is intended to underline the personality of its buyer, for example with the contrasting colors Roof arches and mirror housings. Audi promises around 800 possible combinations in order to configure its custom-made Audi A1 off the shelf. This also confirms the lifestyle will of this small car. Wide arches of the wheel arches show that the designer dreamed of giant wheels, at least the 17-inch models in the S-Line package (1,670 euros). In addition, the higher equipment line Ambition comes with perfectly supporting sports seats as standard - and sports suspension. Here the Audi A1 is supposed to drive the Mini around the ears.

Audi A1 hardly offers suspension comfort

The marketing department can have transverse dynamics fantasies as long as the chassis team thinks about what premium is all about: outstanding suspension comfort. As the highest quality small car to date, the VW Polo sets the bar - and the Audi A1 breaks. Whether in the city, across the country or on highways: with the optional 17-inch wheels, the Audi A1 rolls hard in the test, only picks up cross-joint peaks and lets rough bumps shoot into the back. Instead of the Mini, you can also get your butt spanked in the Audi A1 in future. The 18-inch model (from 1,450 euros) should be particularly good.

Basic set-up of the chassis is tight enough

Sobering up, one wonders whether dynamism is really that important in a small car. The next kick in the cross gives the answer: Audi A1 Ambition customers should order free of charge from the standard sports suspension to the gentler, but still tight basic set-up (dynamic suspension). In general, the track is wider and the spring-damper coordination is harder than in the VW Polo. The Audi A1 carries its axles under its stylish sheet metal cladding, at the front based on the McPherson principle with lower triangular wishbones, and at the rear as a twist beam construction with separate springs and dampers. Audi engineers are using modified guide bearings at the rear and new stabilizers at the front.

The Audi A1 shows all its talent on the slalom course

You can already feel the ambition in the first corners. In fact, the Audi A1 with 17-inch tires (from 700 euros) turned in jaggedly in the test. If the driver now feeds the propulsion slightly with a dosed use of gas, the Audi A1 pulls further into the curve instead of drifting towards the edge. That in turn motivates for the next line choice, especially since the direct electro-hydraulic power steering at any timeunmistakably measures the distance to the border area. In addition, the electronically controlled differential lock, tried and tested from the VW Golf GTI, counteracts the understeer typical of front-wheel drive vehicles. In the slalom course, the Audi A1 shows all its talent in the test, waving around the pylons in a lively but level-headed manner and leaving behind impressed testers. A look at the auto motor und sport database sorts the Audi into the area of ​​sports canons. So far, only the Renault Clio 2.0 16V 200 and the Mini Cooper S whistled around the cones significantly faster. In any case, the Audi A1 has its civilian variants fully under control.

The 122 PS gasoline engine accelerates the A1 to 100 km /h in around nine seconds

These comparisons show that In terms of engine performance, the Audi A1 is ranked significantly higher - but its 1.4-liter makes only 122 hp. However, it can handle a maximum torque of 200 Nm by means of a turbocharger. Enough to rarely let the desire for more arise in everyday life. Around nine seconds at 100 km /h should satisfy even a healthy propulsion appetite, as well as a top speed of 203 km /h. Even at this speed it doesn't get loud in the test in the Audi A1; the noise insulation is successfully based on Audi's large models.

Thanks to the long gear ratio, the engine turns at a relatively comfortable 4,000 rpm in sixth gear, which is almost diesel-like speeds. The A1 recuperates a little when rolling or braking, so the generator stores kinetic energy in the battery. And when the vehicle comes to a standstill in the city, for example in a commuter traffic jam, the A1's start-stop system switches off the engine.

Audi A1 infotainment comes directly from the luxury class

The A1 offers the essential requirements for saving fuel as standard. And they show effect in the test: Discreet accelerators get along with an average of 5.2 liters per 100 kilometers, while the test average takes the downsized direct injection engine 7.2 liters - and that with the aggressively pursued sports ambitions. This is where the early torque maximum pays off. This characteristic does not stimulate turning out the gears. This is another reason why it usually remains quiet in the Audi A1, and the finely interwoven soundscape of the optional Bose sound system can spread out. The infotainment of the A1 comes straight from the luxury class, as does the high beam assistant with light and rain sensor, bi-xenon headlights and a multitude of options for designing the interior with leather or aluminum look as desired.

The chassis costs the A1 the fifth star in the test

This is how a premium small car can actually be configured, for which, of course, a premium Price is calculated. At 15,800 euros, the Audi A1, the 1.2 TFSI, costs only around 500 euros more than an 85-hp Polo and a basic Mini with 75 hp, but 5,000 less than the cheapest Audi A3. Allegations that the Audi A1 is thatoverpriced version of a VW Polo, turn out to be clumsy opinion-making.

Obviously, mini fans rightly suspected that the little Audi could pose a threat to their darling. The first meeting should be exciting. Because the Audi A1 is actually based more on the pithy Mini than on the balanced VW Polo. With consequences: Its stubborn chassis stubbornness puts the Audi A1 under the fifth star in the test.


The small Audi A1 makes it abundantly clear on every manhole cover, every tram track and every frost breakout attentive. The same applies to bumps on the motorway.

Little wind noise and quietly running engine

The relatively low wind noise and the quietly running 1.4-liter four-cylinder increase travel comfort. Two small children find enough space in the back seat, Isofix brackets for child seats are standard. Adults, on the other hand, can only be expected to accept the coupé-like narrowness in the rear over short distances. They should also be flexible in order to be able to climb out of the rear of the Audi A1, because despite Easy-Entry there is only a narrow opening between the front seat and the B-pillar.

There are few restrictions on the trunk; the Audi A1 offers more volume than a Mini, is on par with a VW Polo and an Alfa Romeo Mito, but still below that of a Skoda Fabia or Renault Clio.

Fresh, dynamic and bassy, ​​it is currently the best there is for small cars. The decision in favor of the infotainment system then becomes modular: for 425 euros the Audi A1 offers the concert MP3 radio with a color 6.5-inch screen and navigation preparation, which is easy to operate via the MMI system.

There has never been more infotainment in a small car

iPhone and Co. users should add the connectivity package for 570 euros. The phone quality via the Bluetooth interface is decent and the options for connecting mobile players (audi music interface) via cable or wireless audio streaming are excellent. Only very few will treat themselves to the large MMI navigation system, which costs 2,650 euros. Regardless of the price, it leaves little to be desired in terms of graphics (high resolution, 3D map and cover flow!), Features (hard drive and DVD drive) and function.

This is mainly due to the good residual value trend. According to the leasing company ALD, with a mileage of 45,000 kilometers, the car should still achieve almost half the new price after three years.

Low insurance ratings have a positive effect

This means that the Audi A1 is on this point not far from the class-prime mini. Alfa Romeo Mito and Citroën DS3, on the other hand, do not exceed 45 percent. Furthermore, the long maintenance intervals and the low insurance ratings of the Audi A1 have a positive effect on maintenance.

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