We can write the obituary of the three-door hatchback when they become an unviable part of the model mix even on a four-metre supermini as they have here. In light of the fact that less than one in five examples of the last A1 were sold as three-doors, Audi has elected to offer five-door Sportback versions only this time around. They will all be slightly longer five-doors than their predecessors, too, the A1 having grown by just over 50mm in overall length but otherwise maintaining its dimensions across the generations.
Adopting the same MQB-A0 model platform that the current VW Polo, Seat Ibiza and Skoda Scala all use, the A1’s wheelbase is a match for that of the Seat but for neither of the other relatives. Construction is conventional by class standards, with steel body panels fixed onto a steel monocoque chassis, and engines mounting transversely in the front and driving the front axle.
Diesel engines are the other items that the new A1 is moving beyond. Audi UK launched the A1 last year exclusively with 114bhp, 1.0-litre ‘30 TFSI’ turbo petrol power, and has added both less powerful and more powerful powertrain choices subsequently – but none are diesels.
The range-topping option as things stand is a 2.0-litre ‘40 TFSI’ option with 197bhp, which is the only A1 in the range available with adaptive dampers. The rest run with passive suspension, which is both lowered and stiffened if you choose an S Line-trim car such as our midrange, 148bhp, 1.5-litre ‘35 TFSI’ test car. All examples, meanwhile, feature torsion beam rear suspension just like every other car on the MQB-A0 platform; none offers four-wheel drive. The VW Group’s 1498cc ‘evo’ four-pot turbo engine brings cylinder shutdown technology to the A1 range, producing up to 184lb ft of torque, and is rated for WLTP combined fuel economy of anything up to 45.6mpg, depending on specification. The particular specification of our test car, meanwhile – S Line Style Edition – included 18in alloy wheels and plenty of optional kit.
Audi’s styling for the second-generation A1, meanwhile, gets considerably more aggressive with that aforementioned jump to S Line trim. At a lower level, the car goes without the sill and ‘implied’ lateral air intake garnishing that our test subject had, and might have had a less contrived overall appearance as a result. As it is, the road test jury was in broad agreement that the car tries too hard to pack visual aggression into its styling.