Since 2010 Audi has been compressing all that it stands for into the A1 - a premium subcompact hatchback that has the measure of the urban environment but is also fit to go the distance - and the all-new second generation of this diminutively proportioned yet immensely successful entry point into the Audi brand is now waiting in the wings.
Available exclusively as a five-door Sportback, the latest car features dynamic new styling that combines absolute modernity with classic detailing drawn from the brand-defining Ur quattros of the Eighties, and complements it with infotainment and driver assistance systems on a par with the contemporary full-size class.
The A1 Sportback has grown significantly in length – extended by 56 millimetres, it now measures 4.03 metres. At the same time, its width has remained almost the same at 1.74 metres, while at just 1.41 metres high (excluding its aerial) it retains a low-slung stance which is emphasised further by the wide track and short overhangs. The wide, low-placed Singleframe grille and the implied side air inlets dominate the distinctive front, above which are three flat bonnet slits which pay homage to the Sport quattro, the brand’s rally icon from 1984.
The new A1 Sportback also gives a nod to its Audi Ur-quattro and Sport quattro ancestry when viewed from the side: The wide, flat sloping C-pillar seems to push the car forward even while standing still. The roof contrast line, which is available in two dark colours, ends above the C-pillar. This gives the impression that the roof is flatter and the complete car is even lower-slung. All lines on the flanks, from the window edge to the sill, slope upwards towards the rear in a wedge shape. The distinctively highlighted wheels and the low shoulder line in between give the A1 Sportback a solid stance on the road. The low line between the edges of the wings draws the visual focal point downwards even further.
In the UK the new A1 Sportback will be offered in conjunction with SE, Sport and S line specification options, and in S line form the car’s dynamic character is brought into particularly sharp relief through numerous features. These include larger air inlets, additional sill trims, an elongated slit centrally below the bonnet with two fins and a larger rear wing. In the top version at launch – the 2.0 TFSI with 200PS which will be available only in S line form - striking twin tailpipes also add to the air of strength and purpose.
The distinctive daytime running light graphics of the full-LED lights echo the dynamic wing shapes from sailing, known as hydrofoils. The design of the shutters for the main light functions also draws inspiration from sailing. The wing segments on the flanks create an impression of maximum width. A low-set, concentrated look in conjunction with the small rhombus segments in the top section of the headlights provides a sporty appearance.
The dynamic segmentation motif also features in the rear lights to reinforce the instantly distinguishable A1 light graphics. It is encased in the striking 3D geometry of the lens. The seamless light pattern of the graphics in the dark constitutes a remarkable feature of the two-part rear lights.
The new A1 Sportback is available in a choice of ten colours which, as an option, can be combined with a contrasting roof colour extending from the A-pillar to the roof edge spoiler. The exterior mirror housings, the side front spoiler lips and the side sills are also available in a contrasting colour.
In terms of customisation options the latest A1 also expands on its predecessor’s already varied offering, and as a means of highlighting the scope for adding individual touches two striking Launch Edition models will be available in the UK at market introduction. Taking the S line specification as a foundation, and offered in a range of vivid colours, one will have a design focus and the other a more sporting slant. Each will feature elements such as large 18-inch wheels in either bronze, white or black depending on the exterior finish, darkened LED rear lights referencing the classic Sport quattro, exclusive black colouring for the Audi rings in the Singleframe and the model identifiers on the tailgate and various exterior and interior styling packages, including one with bronze accents.
In the driver-focused cabin with its emotive, customisable design the eye is drawn in particular to the compact unit of air vents and the digital instrument cluster. All of the controls and touch-screen displays are strongly driver-oriented.
The display and the air vent strip on the front passenger side are integrated into an area with a black glass look. In the dark, the cockpit can be brought to life by an optional contour and ambient lighting package that includes LED light elements in 30 selectable colours.
The cabin is also much more spacious, making life much more comfortable for the driver, front passenger and rear passengers. Despite the compact exterior dimensions and the tapering roof line, adults in the rear seats still enjoy plenty of head and leg room. Luggage capacity has increased by 65 litres to 335 litres, and with the rear seats folded down, this increases to 1,090 litres. The load sill height is a comfortably low 67 centimetres.
Whether around town or travelling further afield the powerful and efficient engines in the new A1 Sportback range measure up to the task in hand. There is a choice of efficient TFSI engines with outputs ranging from 95PS to 200PS, all enhanced by turbocharging, direct injection and a particulate filter as standard.
Three engines will initially be available: the 30 TFSI, a three-cylinder unit with a 1.0 litre capacity and 116PS of power, a 150PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with the cylinder on demand efficiency system (COD) in the 35 TFSI, and a 2.0-litre, 200PS TFSI with 320 Nm (236.0 lb-ft) of torque that will power the overtly performance-focused top model. These will be followed shortly afterwards by the 25 TFSI base engine with 95PS output. All engines can be linked to either a manual gearbox or the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, with the exception of the 200PS variant which uses a six-speed S tronic transmission as standard.
Available for UK order from September, first UK deliveries November