Just one glimpse of the front is enough: Audi’s smallest, cheapest and youngest model has suddenly got attitude. The A1, unveiled this week, has gone from tame to little terror in one leap as it seeks to close the gap on its nemesis the Mini…
This is the second generation of Audi’s city car contender, eight years after the baby was first launched. Sharing platforms with the latest VW Polo, the petrol-only model is a larger and roomier A1, while access to goodies from Audi’s more grown-up models has made it a more digital, customisable and connected city car.
But it’s the new look that gets our vote and sets the car apart from its far plainer predecessor. In profile it’s much more wedgy than before, with the Quattro-esque wide and flat C-pillar standing out in body colour (especially in yellow) against the contrasting roof, which is available in one of two dark colours. It’s all much more sporting and lower-slung looking, specially in S Line trim on 18-inch wheels.
Head on, the latest style of single-frame grille, large and wide-spaced air intakes and –another Ur-Quattro styling cue – a row of intake slits in the leading edge of the bonnet all combine to give the new A1 impressive presence for a 4m tiddler.
It’s all a bit sexier inside too. There’s more of a driver focus in the layout and an all-digital new dash (standard on all versions, along with multifunction steering wheel). There’s more room and a larger boot as well as infotainment and driver assistance systems taken from the larger Audis.
The A1 also offers something the more expensive models do not: the opportunity to mix and match trims inside and out. So you can have an S Line exterior with a Designer interior, with the associated colour coding of wheels and cabin trim.
Digital gadgets in Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’include the now well-known navigation display as part of the instrument cluster (that is an option) which can take real-time traffic info from the cloud in order to come up with the best route. A larger touch screen in the centre of the dash, smart phone interface and wireless charging, and Bang & Olufsen hi-fi are other things you could spend more on.
Plus there are driver assistance system galore. For a car designed essentially for life in tight spaces in cities, the available Park Assist set-up makes sense; but whoever heard of a baby car that can shoot along at up to 124mph on radar-assisted cruise control?
It’s all in the shops in the UK from November, with prices sure to be up on the old range (which went from £15-24,000) with the new –and now petrol-only –range comprising engines offering between 94-197bhp.