Wholesale reinvention of Audi’s small car will take on Mini with high-tech cabin

The second-generation Audi A1 has been caught testing on the continent with light camouflage, offering the clearest glimpse of the supermini's new look.

Although instantly recognisable as Audi's entry-level model, the 2019 version receives different light and bumper designs, while its larger size is also clear. This latest development car shows the new A1's wider grille and flatter bonnet with three distinctive vents, as a nod to earlier Audi competition cars. 

This altered look will come with more dynamism and more comfort than its predecessor, according to insiders at Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany. The aim, they say, is to eclipse the latest Mini for overall competence. 

Audi plans to achieve this by using a new platform structure, a heavily reworked suspension system that features optional adaptive damping control, a new range of engines and updated gearboxes. 

The new A1 is due to be revealed this summer and the starting price is expected to be just above the £15,560 of today’s model.

The smallest Audi has grown in size and receives the new look to make it feel more upmarket and dovetail more seamlessly with the rest of the brand’s line-up. 

A big change for Ingolstadt’s supermini is the end of
 the three-door bodystyle. The second-generation model, to be produced by fellow Volkswagen Group brand Seat at its plant in Martorell, Spain, will come in five-door Sportback form only. 

The move is part of a consolidation of Audi models intended to make savings that will be channelled into the development of electric cars. 

The starting point for the new A1 is a new platform. The old PQ25 structure, dating back to 2001, has been replaced 
by a more contemporary
 MQB AO architecture, which incorporates engineering solutions already used by the A3 for greater amortisation of production costs. 

The new platform employs a combination of aluminium and hot-formed steel within the floorpan. Its adoption 
in the new A1 provides scope for an increase in external dimensions, with the wheelbase alone up by 94mm to 2564mm. 

Ingolstadt officials confirm that the new A1 has grown slightly, reflecting the shift of the latest Polo, with which the A1 shares a significant part 
of its mechanical package.
 The new structure is also claimed to bring a considerable increase in torsional stiffness — a development that is said to lead to a noteworthy improvement in overall refinement. 

“There is a maturity to the new model. The differences are instantly recognisable when you drive it,” said a source involved in recent durability testing of the new car. 

The increase in external dimensions has extended the A1’s length to more than 4000mm and its width beyond the 1740mm of today’s model. As a result, the incoming car is claimed to offer more interior space and luggage-carrying capacity than its predecessor. Much of the added space is dedicated to the rear, which is said to offer greater leg, head and shoulder room. 

Inside, there is a new dashboard modelled along the lines of that already seen in the larger A3. 

Considerable efforts are being made to ensure that the new model attracts younger car buyers through what Audi describes as class-leading infotainment and connectivity features. 

These include the optional Virtual Cockpit digital display and embedded 4G LTE in combination with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. Driving assistance functions include front assist, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring systems, as well as a tyre pressure monitoring feature and a speed limiter. 

The engine line-up largely mirrors the new Polo’s. On the petrol side, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI unit delivering up to 113bhp will remain the entry-level engine. 

Further up the range, a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 148bhp slots in as a successor to the old turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder motor. 

Topping the initial range will be the S1, although it isn’t expected to go on sale in the UK later on. It eschews the engine of today’s model for a newer turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicking out up to 250bhp. 

The new A1 was originally planned to be launched
 with a carried-over turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with up to 95bhp in combination with a standard selective catalytic reduction filter as standard. However, Audi bosses are said to be reconsidering this in light of the significant drop in sales of diesel-engined small cars. 

However, the A1 will receive a natural gas option, in combination with a specially adapted version of the turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It won’t be on sale in the UK. 

In addition to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, buyers will also be able to choose an optional seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission with an automatic shift function. 

Whereas the first-generation A1 had four-wheel drive on only the range-topping S1, the new model will offer a Haldex-style electro-hydraulic multi-plate-clutch quattro system with a wider range of engines.


Related stories: 

Our Audi A1 review 

New Audi Q3 captured before July arrival

Our Verdict

Audi A1 review hero lead

The Audi A1 is a stylish and competent supermini, if a little expensive - but does it have the edge over the Mini hatch, Seat Ibiza and Ford Fiesta?

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Comments
31

18 August 2017

"the A1 will receive a natural gas option, in combination with a specially adapted version of the turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It won’t be sold in the UK."

Why? It's cheaper and it's cleaner.

18 August 2017

Audi choosing not to sell a particular model in the UK is a benefit of being in Lord Heseltine's EU 'single market'.

It is an EU 'single market' where British customers don't get the chance to buy an Audi A1 that runs on natural gas.

Thank God we are leaving the EU.

18 August 2017

Are you mad? You can buy a NG powered model if you want direct from EU countries. The whole point of the EU is that you *can* buy it if you want, you just need to import it from an EU country - tariff free. Audi have just elected NOT to sell it directly in the UK, presumably because there's not a big enough demand/market.

Get your facts right.

 

max1e6 wrote:

Audi choosing not to sell a particular model in the UK is a benefit of being in Lord Heseltine's EU 'single market'.

It is an EU 'single market' where British customers don't get the chance to buy an Audi A1 that runs on natural gas.

Thank God we are leaving the EU.

27 August 2017
renster wrote:

Are you mad? You can buy a NG powered model if you want direct from EU countries. The whole point of the EU is that you *can* buy it if you want, you just need to import it from an EU country - tariff free. Audi have just elected NOT to sell it directly in the UK, presumably because there's not a big enough demand/market.

Get your facts right.

 

max1e6 wrote:

Audi choosing not to sell a particular model in the UK is a benefit of being in Lord Heseltine's EU 'single market'.

It is an EU 'single market' where British customers don't get the chance to buy an Audi A1 that runs on natural gas.

Thank God we are leaving the EU.

You've entirely missed Max's point.  If it were a single market, and if we were equals within it, the car would be available in Britain.  Instead, because the corrupt and undemocratic EU is organized against our best interests, a British customer would have to put the money into the hands of a German or other continental dealer, most likely with a hefty premium to get a right-hand drive version, and the British franchise would miss out.

Just one more reason why our exit from that awful institution cannot arrive swiftly enough.  The Europeans hate us and will go to any lengths to do us down.  All they ever wanted was our money, which they have been bleeding from us for over forty years.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

16 February 2018
bowsersheepdog wrote:

You've entirely missed Max's point.  If it were a single market, and if we were equals within it, the car would be available in Britain.  Instead, because the corrupt and undemocratic EU is organized against our best interests, a British customer would have to put the money into the hands of a German or other continental dealer, most likely with a hefty premium to get a right-hand drive version, and the British franchise would miss out.

Just one more reason why our exit from that awful institution cannot arrive swiftly enough.  The Europeans hate us and will go to any lengths to do us down.  All they ever wanted was our money, which they have been bleeding from us for over forty years.

Apologies for the late reply. But as someone who works in the car industry, I can reliably inform you're talking tosh. It is purely cost/benefit whether an LPG option is offered. The EU is neither corrupt nor undemocratic, so get your facts right before making a fool of yourself in front of thousands of Autocar members.

23 February 2018
renster wrote:

bowsersheepdog wrote:

You've entirely missed Max's point.  If it were a single market, and if we were equals within it, the car would be available in Britain.  Instead, because the corrupt and undemocratic EU is organized against our best interests, a British customer would have to put the money into the hands of a German or other continental dealer, most likely with a hefty premium to get a right-hand drive version, and the British franchise would miss out.

Just one more reason why our exit from that awful institution cannot arrive swiftly enough.  The Europeans hate us and will go to any lengths to do us down.  All they ever wanted was our money, which they have been bleeding from us for over forty years.

Apologies for the late reply. But as someone who works in the car industry, I can reliably inform you're talking tosh. It is purely cost/benefit whether an LPG option is offered. The EU is neither corrupt nor undemocratic, so get your facts right before making a fool of yourself in front of thousands of Autocar members.

The EU is exactly corrupt and undemocratic.  Those who make its rules and decide its policies are not elected by public vote and cannot be removed by the people over whose lives they have control.  Although they may have been elected at some point in their own countries they are elected to the Commission only by other EU officials and additionally they are sworn to uphold the interests of the EU at the expense of the interests of their own countries.  Filth like Juncker, Van Rompuy and Tusk are set upon removing all authority from the individual nations and creating a single European state under the control of the unelected EU Commission.  That whole system is both corrupt and undemocratic.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

18 August 2017

'It eschews the turbo 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of today’s model for a turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicking out up to 250bhp'

autocar please check your facts. I had an S1 and it most definitely did not have the 1.8 litre; instead sharing the 2.0 turbo unit widely used across VAG. And in applied into the S1 at 237BHP ferocious 

18 August 2017
keeforelli wrote:

autocar please check your facts. 

They do seem to have a problem with that, don't they.

Also, the A1 has ditched the 1.2l petrol quite a long time ago.

 

 

18 August 2017

I quite like the size of the current A1. Audi please don't morph it into a re badged A3!

18 August 2017
Worried about diesel sales, so they decide not to bring the gas to uk.....

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