Despite sharing a platform with the new Volkswagen Polo (this platform is called MQB-A0), Audi has gone to great lengths to ensure that the all-new 2019 Audi A1 provides enough differentiation between the two.
Starting at $32,350 (plus costs on the road) for the turbocharged 1.0-liter A1 30 TFSI three-cylinder, the range then moves to the A1 35 TFSI pictured here, with a starting price of $35,290 (plus on-road costs), It beats the A1 40 TFSI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a starting price of $46,450 (plus road costs).
Under the hood of the A1 35 TFSI is Audi’s new engine, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine that sends torque to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The engine produces 110 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque, which is very healthy for a car that weighs only 1260 kg. This combination allows to consume only 5.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers in the combined cycle.
The A1’s exterior has been toned down, but it still has a sharp edge with hints of sporty intent. The stylish $2,990 package installed on our test car completes the package with LED headlights front and rear, LED interior variable lighting and larger 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Speaking of options, Audi was smart by offering only a small options menu and grouping the main options into kits, such as the Style Package ($2990) and the Technik Package ($3200). Outside of that, buyers can choose different colored ceiling and interior trims.
While the seats are finished with fabric trim, they are well presented and don’t feel cheap. The same cannot be said for some of the materials Audi has chosen to use around the cabin. You sit in an Audi and expect everything to feel excellent – especially if the platform is shared with a much cheaper tour of the city.
But Audi missed the mark on some of the door materials and touch points you often encounter. It’s only a small ache, but enough to calm the mood inside the cabin.
Fortunately, this is where the negatives inside the cabin end. The 35 TFSI comes standard with the Audi Virtual Cockpit, which is a 10.25-inch digital display in front of the driver, rather than the analog gauges. It is complemented by an 8.8-inch infotainment system called the Audi MMI. MMI comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is fairly easy to use.
The only downside to the coexistence of both systems is the lack of map overlays on the Virtual Cockpit screen. These features are included in the Technik package, which brings with it a 10.1-inch infotainment screen, wireless smartphone mirroring, better stereo, and a more advanced Virtual Cockpit that packs even more grunt handling.
There is plenty of room in the front row and load capacity has been increased by 65 liters to a useful 335 litres. While the car’s overall length has been increased by 56 mm and the wheelbase has been extended by 94 mm, it is still very narrow in the adult second row.
You are sure to be transporting friends and family in the second row only for short trips. It’s still hard to squeeze in there, especially if the passenger or driver in the front seat is a taller person.
Infotainment is backed up by two USB and USB-C ports for future proofing, while wireless phone charging is standard gear.
Parking is taken care of by front and rear parking sensors, along with a high-quality reverse-view camera.
What new A1 do you like to drive? We hit the road to sample it via a mix of city, country and highway driving. Despite sharing a platform with the Polo, the A1 feels healthier and better planted on the road.
It’s a little stronger than the softer Polo, but that means it feels more attractive. There’s enough feel through the steering wheel, and it’s light enough to make getting around town and tight parking lots a breeze. On this front, visibility is also excellent thanks to the large greenhouse and the open view through the rear window envelope.
If you jump on the throttle from a standing position, the A1 will sprint from 0 to 100 km / h in 7.7 seconds, which is convenient enough for the intended purposes of the A1.
Acceleration into the gears is quick, and there’s a jagged note from the engine as you push through the rpm range. There is rarely a time when you feel that there is not enough power to trust the car to get out of the way of things or overtake on a country road.
Unfortunately, the entire package is left by a fairly double-clutch gearbox. It is quite lazy and can be slow to respond to inputs. She has a slight dead spot because she rolls out of line, and she hates being punched head-on with a mound in the front or back.
Dual-clutch gearboxes are an easy way for manufacturers to tinker with the fuel economy system with an inherent 10 percent fuel use advantage over the torque converter. Most people associate them with sports cars, but on city tours like the A1, they don’t really help performance in any meaningful way.
In and around town, the A1 feels right at home. You’ll get in and out of traffic, along with being easy to park and move around. The stop/start system kicks in while the car is turning and feels fairly polished.
When you hit the open road, there’s some tire noise creeping into the cabin, but it won’t affect your head or become a problem if you’re planning on taking long highway trips.
In terms of ownership costs, the 35 TFSI lives on a diet of 95RON premium unleaded fuel. While there is an additional cost to this equation, Audi has sharpened its pen in maintenance costs.
Prepaid service comes in at $1,480 for three years or $1,990 for five years, giving you three or five services in a row at a rate of 12 months or 15,000 km.
You’re stuck with a very weak three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, but that’s a crime currently being committed by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, Australia’s three biggest luxury brands.
The all-new Audi A1 is a bit of a mixed bag. The car is well presented, loaded with features, and well priced in the mid-spec level. However, it is let down by a tough gearbox and some lower interior material.
But it’s an affordable entry point into premium cars in Australia that won’t cost you a fortune to own and operate.