What is it?
The fastest, most powerful version of Audi’s smallest car. The not-so-performance-sounding Audi A1 1.4 TFSI was due to get the S1 name but Audi got cold feet on the eve of the car’s Paris 2010 debut as it was decided the car wasn’t quick enough, nor did it have four-wheel drive.
The 1.4 TFSI is in effect in a sister car to the VW Polo GTI, running an 182bhp version of VW Group’s turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-litre petrol engine. The engine is only available in range-topping S Line trim, which brings with it extras including sports suspension, 17-inch alloys, some sporty exterior styling details and plenty of S Line badging for the premium interior.
What’s it like?
A grown-up supermini with two distinct sides to its personality. On the one hand, it’s refinement levels belie its size and make the car a surprisingly comfortable companion on long distance cruises thanks to its seven-speed S Tronic gearbox.
Only a slightly unwelcome amount of tyre roar and an occasionally abrupt ride from its 17in alloys/sports suspension combo stops you from being fooled you’re in a much larger Audi.
The other side of its personality is one of a quick and able warm hatch. It’s more than quick enough for most everyday situations (0-62mph takes just 6.9sec) and it feels nimble enough to raise a small smile on B-roads or swift, nippy progress around town. The rorty engine note is also a welcome addition, especially when you put the gearbox in Sport mode.
Where it falls down on this side of its personality is a lack of overall involvement and play from its chassis, and the frustrations of no manual control of the gearbox when you really want to open up.
Should I buy one?
It’s a smart move from Audi not giving the car an S1 badge. To do so would have branded this car something its not. An S1 is coming and it’s going to have the extra power and sports-orientated set-up the chassis seems more than able to handle.
What you get instead with the 1.4 TFSI is a quick and mature supermini with a comfortable, high quality interior, ‘big car’ refinement – and a ‘big car’ price to match.