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A1 for away! Audi's baby-car gets hotter

2015-05-12 07:39

ANCIENT AND MODERN: Audi's 2015 two-door A1 and four-door A1 Sportback at the May 2015 Cradle of Mankind model launch. Ease the model identity crisis by checking the fog lights. Image: Les Stephenson

LES STEPHENSON

They’ve been a while coming but Audi SA has at last launched the balance of its latest A1 two-door hatch and four-door A1 Sportback range - its Mini-challenging four-seaters – and rather nice they are.

And before you read further, prices range from R265 000 to R460 000. Before add-ons… of which there are a lot.

Audi SA chose the swoopy rolling hills around the Cradle of Mankind, north-west of Johannesburg, for the launch event on May 11 2015. The cars were originally launched in Europe and other world markets back in 2010 and so far more than 500 000 have been sold globally.

FASTEST AND SEXIEST

They reached South Africa the following year and Audi SA says more than 8700 have been sold here since then. Given the build quality, performance and new features added to this the latest version – well, a facelift and engine swop, really – there’s no reason why that sales performance shouldn’t continue.

The fastest and sexiest model, the S1, was launched here back in December 2014; the 2015 newbies come with a choice of three engines – one-litre, 1.4-litre and a new and gutsy 1.8, each turbocharged - and there’s no call to sniff at the baby of the trio.

GALLERY: 2015 Audi A1

They replace the previous 1.2T FSI (63kW)  and 1.4 T FSI (136kW). There will be no diesel versions; the main external visual changes involve new bumpers, rectangular fog lights, a new rear diffuser and 3D tail lights.

A seven-speed Steptronic gearbox and three trim levels are available for each of the three models.

THREE CYLINDERS, 150kW

The Highveld is a tricky place to launch cars; the automotive equivalent of human altitude sickness can sap as much as 16% of engine output from normal fuel-systems but add a turbo or two and the extra pressure in the fuelling will cancel out most of that deficit.

GALLERY: 2015 Audi A1 Sportback

So turbocharging smaller engines – the one-litre TFSI unit now under the A1’s bonnet has only three cylinders (the first in any Audi but a configuration already in use by several other automakers) iss an example – yet even in the Magaliesberg the car I drove performed more like a sports car than a city commuter.

Not surprising, given its claimed 70kW and 160Nm of torque.

A newer version of the one-litre has been tuned for 150kW!

Audi claims 4.3 litres/100km for the A1's smallest engine and its 98g/km CO2 emissions are way below the pollution-tax threshold. The car is available now (May 2015) in S specification with SE spec units due later in the year.

SPEND YOUR BUCKS ON PERSONALISATION

My favourite of the three – again, after actually driving the cars – is the 1.4 FSI that packs 92kW/200Nm, makes (Audi’s figures again) five litres/100km and at 117g/km of CO2 also gives the finger to the taxman.

Why my favourite? Because 90kW is a lot for such a small car; it handles like a racer, comes (depending on spec) with all a keen driver could need (including a six-speed manual gearbox) and, frankly is bloody good fun to drive.

Some of you will ask: 'Why not the 1.8?' OK: the new one whacks out 141kW and 250Nm as the replacement  for the previous A1 range’s 136kW 1.4 T FSI, gets to 100 in a claimed 6.8sec and (Audi figures) uses 5.6 litres/100km but comes only with an S Tronic manual/auto transmission.

It’s the same engine as used in the Polo GTi – in fact, apart from the styling of the 3.5m-long bodyshell, the A1 is pretty much the same car.

All of which makes it way more expensive and it doesn’t even escape the gas tax. It’s just too much car, if you get that concept. The 1.4 has plenty of everything, even for an (euphemistically speaking) enthusiastic driver.

The final engine that lives in the mighty S1 develops 170kW/370Nm yet shaves only a second off the 1.8’s time – and, really guys, when are you going to be playing like that? And its top speed of 250km/h is legally unattainable in SA.

BIT TIGHT BACK THERE

So, rather settle for the fun and handling of the 1.4 and save a whack of cash – or spend some of it on customising with goodies from the Audi A1’s 250 000 possible combinations of paint, body accessories and equipment catalogue.

Yes, 250 000!

One problem with the A1 - particularly the two-door: the rear seat. Access through the gap between the front seats and the B pillar is tight and and tallish adult will be brushing the roof lining with his scalp.

Also new with the range is Audi Genuine Accessories’ Active Kit (R22 000, gulp!) which includes add-ons such as special bumpers and wheel-arches and sills in platinum grey. They can be ordered on any S or SE mode (of which the full list below).

Factory-fitted Bose sound with 14 speakers is also on the “your choice” list. Another R9700, ting-ting.

Yellow, however, remains the preserve of the S1.

Read more about the latest Audi A1.

The various models of the Audi A1 and A1 Sportback will be offered with the following standard equipment:

Audi A1 1.0T FSI S manual and S tronic:

  •    3-spoked multi-function leather-covered sports steering wheel (new)
  •    Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming (new)
  •    Concert radio with pop-up LCD colour screen (new)
  •    Driver information system with efficiency programme (new)
  •    New-design 15-inch alloy wheel rims (new)
  •    Electro-mechanical power steering (new)
  •    Standard seats cloth
  •    Passive speakers
  •    Manual aircon
  •    Dynamic comfort suspension
  •    Rear fog lights
  •    Front passenger airbag deactivation

Audi A1 1.4T FSI SE manual and S tronic:

  •    3-spoked multi-function leather-covered sports steering wheel
  •    Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming (new)
  •    Concert radio with pop-up LCD colour screen
  •    Driver information system with efficiency programme
  •    New-design 16-inch alloy wheel rims (new)
  •    Electro-mechanical power-steering (new)
  •    Front sport seats in cloth
  •    Passive speakers
  •    Aluminium look interior
  •    Front fog lights
  •    Air-vents surrounds in high-gloss black
  •    Rain and light sensor
  •    Automatic aircon
  •    Audi Drive select (new)
  •    Dynamic comfort suspension with sport suspension available at no extra cost
  •    Front passenger airbag deactivation

Audi A1 1.8T FSI Sport S tronic:

  •    Xenon Plus headlights (new)
  •    3-spoked multi-function leather-covered sports steering wheel with shift paddles
  •    Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming (new)
  •    Concert radio with pop-up LCD colour screen
  •    Driver information system with efficiency programme
  •    New-design 17-inch alloy wheel rimss (new)
  •    Electro-mechanical power steering (new)
  •    Front sport seats in cloth
  •    Passive speakers
  •    S line exterior package
  •    LED interior lighting package
  •    Aluminium look interior
  •    Air-vents surrounds in high-gloss black
  •    Rain and light sensor
  •    Automatic climate control air-conditioning
  •    Audi Drive select (new)
  •    Sport suspension

Audi S1 2.0T quattro manual:

  •    17” 5-parallel-spoke design cast aluminium alloy wheel rimss in S design
  •    Xenon Plus headlights with LED rear taillights
  •    Audi drive select with adaptive damping
  •    Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming
  •    All wheel drive
  •    Six-speed manual gearbox
  •    All-round, independent adaptive S sports suspension
  •    Progressive steering with dynamic ratio
  •    Brushed stainless-steel pedals with rubber inserts
  •    S1 Sport seats in Sector cloth/ leather combination
  •    S1 logo embossed on the front seat backs
  •    S1 instrumentation in grey
  •    S1 sports flat bottom steering wheel
  •    S1 badging on the door-sill trims
PRICES
Audi A1 (two-door)
Audi A1 1.0T FSI S manual - R 265 000
Audi A1 1.0T FSI S tronic - R 282 500
Audi A1 1.4T FSI SE manual - R 298 500
Audi A1 1.4T FSI SE S tronic - R 316 000
Audi A1 1.8T FSI Sport S tronic - R 382 500
Audi S1 2.0T FSI quattro manual - R 452 500

Audi A1 Sportback (four-door)
Audi A1 Sportback 1.0T FSI S manual - R 272 500
Audi A1 Sportback 1.0T FSI S tronic - R 290 000
Audi A1 Sportback 1.4T FSI SE manual - R 306 000
Audi A1 Sportback 1.4T FSI SE S tronic - R 323 500
Audi A1 Sportback 1.8T FSI Sport S tronic - R 390 000
Audi S1 Sportback 2.0T FSI quattro manual - R 460 000

All prices include VAT and the standard Audi Freeway Plan (five years or 100 000km).

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