The new five-door hatch from Audi has grown both in size and overall presence, not to mention that is has a much broader driver appeal.
The all-new Audi A1 has moved from a predominately female young professional / student vehicle to a more grown-up and brute hatch. The new-look front ensures that this vehicle is taken seriously. There is a gap between the grill and the bonnet almost looking like a scoop. The new headlight cluster has an LED strip that runs along the top of the cluster and slopes down towards the outer sides, giving the vehicle a wide appearance.
The 40 TFSI flagship S Line has a sporty bumper treatment front and back as well as side skirts and larger rims to complete the look. At the rear, the C-pillar has become less slanted and much thicker than its predecessor, which adds to the performance look. I have to admit, the test vehicle in python yellow with optional dark head- and taillights surprised me with its sharp good looks. It is the type of vehicle where you will not need any aftermarket parts to make it look any better.
Open the perfectly weighted doors and you are welcomed by a clean yet functional dashboard with very few buttons and controls. The sporty steering wheel with a squared-off bottom adds to the fact that this is no ordinary A1. The sport seats are comfortable for most people, but what is really impressive is the space up front and at the rear. We did a test with an average-height person of 1,7 m in the driver’s seat and you could comfortably fit a 1,6-m person in behind, albeit for a short distance. So, this is a four-seater, but it can become a bit cramped on a long trip if all four are adults.
The boot space is also decent and with the standard temporary spare wheel, the boot is deep enough to swallow larger items. Like most hatches, the seats can be folded to reveal a flat loading space.
The large screen in the centre of the dash is now a touchscreen which is perfectly angled for driver access. The interior can also be customised to have yellow accents around the air vents and the centre console between the seats. The instrument cluster has been upgraded to a full LED screen. This makes it customisable from large to small displays and also has the option to display the full navigation map or other information.
All this is great, but like me I am sure you are curious how this vehicle performs on the tarmac. As you press the start button, there is a growl as the vehicle comes to life, before it settles to a subdued purr. As has become the norm, this vehicle is only available with an auto gearbox with the option to drive it in manual. The 2-litre engine produces as much as 147 kW, which is enough to blast the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 6,5 seconds and continue to a top speed of 235 km/h (Audi claim).
I must say even though I did not try to get to these figures, the car was an absolute blast to drive. It does bring out the heavy foot on take-off, and overtaking is so quick that just as you feel the power come in, you have passed that slow truck.
The feature that stood out for me was that even though this is a performance vehicle, when driving normally the fuel consumption was pretty good: I averaged 6,5 l per 100 km while Audi claims an overall of 6,0 l per 100 km.
If there is a negative to this vehicle it is the pricing: the base price is R488 000 before extras while a decently spec’d one will set you back close to R600 000. All that said, this to me is the new kid on the hot hatch block. It has the looks and performance, as well as practical space for you and your mates to join in the fun.
AUTHOR | Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ