From £16,340
The emphasis is on added traction and safety, without detriment to the A1’s basic character
12 January 2011

What is it?

The decision to base the Audi A1 on the same PQ25 platform as the Volkswagen Polo’s is logical enough. Except that the PQ25 was engineered for front-wheel drive only. So Audi faced a dilemma for its more powerful A1s, including its high-performance S1.

Audi originally eyed doing the S1 with front-wheel drive. But after some thought about the ramifications to the image of its traditionally four-wheel-drive S-car line-up, that idea has been ditched in favour of a costly engineering programme to provide the PQ25 with four-wheel drive capability – the first fruits of which are driven here in the form of an early prototype fitted with the same driveline as the A1 1.4T range-topper.

See pics of the Audi A1 1.4T quattro in action

What’s it like?

The mods to the A1’s existing structure are fairly straightforward. They include a propshaft running aft from the gearbox – a standard six-speed manual in our car – together with the adoption of an electronically controlled, hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch. Along with an added pair of rear driveshafts, it all adds 90kg to the car’s weight.

The new clutch – basically the same unit used on four-wheel-drive A3s – continuously apportions drive between the front and rear wheels depending on prevailing traction, and it can send 100 per cent to either axle.

The advantages of four-wheel drive can’t be understated – especially in wintery conditions like those of our first drive of the upcoming 1.4T quattro, a model set to be positioned one rung below the S1. Running the same 1.4-litre engine as the Polo GTI, it packs a solid 185bhp and 184lb ft.

The four-wheel drive system brings improved off-the-line performance and greater security without altering the A1’s intrinsic driving character. But with our experience restricted to a short drive on an icy track, we’ve yet to fully know what effect it will have on day-to-day driving and the A1’s impressive agility.

Should I buy one?

While giving the A1 an extra dimension, the addition of four-wheel drive to the PQ25 structure looks like having an effect outside the Audi line-up. It is yet to be made official, but VW is rumoured to be looking to be looking at a four-wheel-drive CrossPolo and Polo R – models made possible by Audi’s insistence to go beyond front-wheel drive for the A1.

Audi A1 1.4T quattro

Price: £21,800 (est); Top speed: 140mph (est); 0-62mph: 6.9sec (est); Economy: 45mpg (est); CO2: 140g/km (est); Kerb weight: 1215kg (est); Engine type: 4 cyls, 1390cc, twin-charged, petrol; Power: 185bhp at 6200rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 2000-4500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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Comments
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LukasMaximus 3 August 2012

Re: Audi A1 1.4T Quattro

I think a lot of you forget that Audi provide one of the highest amount of optional extra's for their models than any other brand on the market. Audi give you the chance to practically tailor make your car to your own want's and need's, budget reflective of course.

If you don't think paying the extra money for the Quattro is worth it, don't buy it. The basic model starts at just over £13,000 in the Uk, which is quite a good price for a supermini with the name it has. 

Someone earlier mentioned the lovely Fiat 500 Twin-Air as a cheaper and, just as smart competitor. Don't forget the model we're talking about is a powerful supermini with 185hp. Its a completely different spec of car. Fiat's rival would be the meatier Abarth 500 which is practically the same price, but still not as powerful. Luckily they're bringing out a further more powerful addition.

I personally would happily pay the extra and have been waiting for the A1 Quattro to be released, to buy one for my girlfriend. The Quattro is always going to be a better and safer option, but obviously you'll have to suffer the price.

This model will be the next best thing to the long awaited S1 or Clubsport Quattro which will cost a hell of a lot more, so £22,000 is not to bad on reflection.

Fidji 13 December 2011

Re: Audi A1 1.4T quattro

Is this really available with a six speed manual as it says in the test? Its Skoda, SEAT and VW equivalents all have the seven speed DSG fitted as standard, and I always thought that a proper manual would make more sense on one of these. This is my personal favourite of all the hot superminis that VAG group currently offer (apart from maybe the estate version of the Fabia vRS, but then again, that isn't exactly a supermini). Mainly because it has 4WD, but also because it has an extra few horsepower than its siblings. Also, a 0-60mph time of 6.9 seconds is pretty impressive too. And I wouldn't turn my nose up at 45mpg either.

gazza5 27 January 2011

Re: Audi A1 1.4T quattro

it is a lot - but how many people do you think will pay it? Quite a few I suspect.

Audi have done quite well - there cars aren't the best yet they still sell like hot cakes - I'll stick with my 2 year old corsa sri 1.6t - although I would love a car that gave me better mpg and is cheaper to tax - I am not buying a supermini for £21k! No wonder a lot of people wait for a 6 month old car - the prices new are getting increasingly higher!!