From £13,420
The emphasis is on added traction and safety, without detriment to the A1’s basic character

Our Verdict

Audi A1

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

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

Join the debate

Comments
14

26 January 2011

Autocar: "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"

Okay, that's one week of the year in the UK, so what difference does it make in the normal every day world?

I've commented on this before but, when VW group have already proved they can produce a better car in front drive format (Sirrocco R vs Golf R), is there really any point in going to this expense?

This is an expensive folly for Audi purely for marketing purposes.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

26 January 2011

[quote TegTypeR] is there really any point in going to this expense?[/quote] Of course not! Fiat 500 Twin Air & winter tyres make more sense, save the money & still look smart.

26 January 2011

[quote TegTypeR]This is an expensive folly for Audi purely for marketing purposes[/quote]

And for making money which undoubtedly it will

26 January 2011

An A1 is basically a city car. Why on earth would you need or even want 4x4 on a car in this class? As for it's winter effectiveness. I have a friend who's 4x4 was stuck in the driveway for almost three weeks this winter. The car in question was a TT but due to the lack of ground clearance... Even my summer tyre wearing Focus could get places the TT couldn't! 4x4 on these cars supposedly gain better performance / handling - to suggest it's winter credentials are increased is something I'd expect to hear from an Audi salesman/brochure , not an independent magazine.

26 January 2011

I think the idea behind this is for 'well off' familys.

The wife could have a 'safe little runnaround' for 'all weather'.

We all know that any car, with winter tyres if neccesary, is perfectly fine in this country when driven well, however I have no faith in this country's driving ability anymore.

Slight rain and everyone just panics and drives at 20 miles an hour up the motorway!

I know people should adjust there speed for the conditions but some people just take it to extreme's I think.

Anyway, back on topic, this car could give the wife or young driver or older driver or even just the not too confident driver, who want a small car, the confidence they want/need to drive regardless if its raining cats and dogs or is the nicest of sunny days.

26 January 2011

I think this cars problem may be the badge but not in the way you'd think.

The full fat S1 can't be priced that much more than this, and will be more deirable have a huge benefit in residuals due to being a proper "Hot" Audi, making the S1 cheaper on the monthly payments than this car, in the same way that a 2.0 TFSI A3 S Line Quattro is more expensive monthly than an S3, despite costing less.

26 January 2011

I have an Audi TTS and my wife has a Leon Cupra - in the dry not much in it as far as traction is concerned ( though I get to 60 much, much faster and with with no 'TCS' light flashing away ! ). But in the wet.....a completely different story. I can pull out onto the busy A4 near where I live when a space turns up that you could not dream of attempting with just front wheel drive - regardless of what tyres you have.

There is no question that 4 wheel drive gives significant traction benefits particularly in the wet ( and it does rain quite a bit in this country ). The question is ' is it worth the extra money ' ?

For me, absolutely yes - but I am sure not everyone would feel that way. My wife is looking for a replacement for the Leon and, fine car though it is, she is tempted by 4x4 simply because of the benefits in the wet. ( Leon Cupra 4x4 please ? )

Expensive folly by Audi ? I suspect the sales figures will prove otherwise.


26 January 2011

Well put TegTypeR, i've never liked small Audi's, they just never seemed to grab my idea of a good, cohesive looking car, oh, and nowadays the high price for said small car!.

Peter Cavellini.

26 January 2011

21 bags for a supermini ! ....jeez thats a lot..

plenty of better cars available for that money

27 January 2011

1: who said this car was made for the UK market? Don't think so. And who says that there ain't a market for them elsewhere. Sure there is. It's ok to read the article out of intrest without having a use for this car. That said, maybe a few people in the UK have??

2: "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."

Thats Bullocks. It cannot "send" all power to the rear unless the fronts have zero traction, in which case there is nothing to send to the front in the first place. This is a FWD based system with the possibility lock the rear axle rotation to the front one. Indeed as on the A3...

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