Generation game: we drive the pint-sized, retro-flavoured Audi A1
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The A1 sportback is an important car for Audi New Zealand with the first model introducing new — and younger — customers to the brand, and the recently launched second generation adding another level of buyers.
The all-new A1 is available in three variants: the 30 TFSI with a 1-litre petrol engine producing 85kW of power and 200Nm while sitting on 16in alloys; the 30 TFSI Advanced with the same 1-litre engine but on 17in alloys; and the top spec 35 TFSI S Line with 1.5-litre 110kW/250Nm engine with 18in alloys. All have the seven-speed S-tronic transmission.
The 30 TFS1 is $39,400, the Advanced $42,900 and the S Line is $47,900.
Audi New Zealand expects the top two models will have an even split of 40 per cent each of buyers.
The company says its an important model for Audi “as we haven’t had a strong competitor in that segment for a while”.
That segment takes up 15 per cent of the passenger market while the premium competitors include Mercedes-Benz’s award-winning A-Class (starting at $54,400) and BMW’s $47,200 1 Series. But the most likely contenders includes family brands — Volkswagen’s Golf Highland $39,990 and Polo GTI ($38,490), plus SEAT’s Ibiza hatch (from $25,900).
Audi expects to sell about 100-120 A1s a month once it gets more stock from the factory.
And the way Audi plans to attract buyers to the A1 is thanks to new technology. The A1 has Audi Connect, which is a SIM card embedded to the car to let the service team know of any issues — but the device will soon allow owners to have access to the car, search for parking and update technology functions.
The all-new A1 has a two-fold function for Audi NZ — doing what it does so well in introducing new buyers to the brand but now the second-generation is following the housing trend of downsizing.
The kids have left home (is that possible?), so you don’t need your large family SUV as the main vehicle any more but want something to zip around the city in, in a brand you know.
Audi NZ says the A1 is “not about how old you are or young you are, it’s what you do with the car”.
The all-new A1 is a premium five seater with an interior that is bigger and more functional than the previous generation, and a larger luggage compartment.
Audi NZ says the designers took inspiration from the brand’s rally car, with three vents in the bonnet, quattro blisters and rally-style mudguards. It also has a newly designed power C-pillar and a new radiator grille. Inside is the new digital instrument panel with Audi’s virtual cockpit as optional; standard is a multi-media screen.
What stands out is that the screen sits in a full-width black gloss panel and if you switch off the screen it integrates into the panel. Genius.
After the media launch I had the 35 TFSI S Line for the weekend. With the 1.5-litre 110kW/250Nm engine, the A1 proved it wasn’t just a city car but capable of big trips.
In urban situations the gear transitions were smooth, settling in the optimum rev count for low speeds but hit the motorway and it holds the gears longer to give you the best driving situation.
Its handling around country roads was tight and in control but back in the city, the A1 slots straight in. Parking is a breeze and it has a enough power to give you a boost if you need to pop into a gap in the traffic.
My only negative was the lack of blind spot monitoring in the A1 — a feature that should be standard for Audi.