For something that takes stylistic cues from Lamborghini’s Huracán Performante (bronze alloy wheels) and the great Audi Sport Quattro of 1985 (vents at the base of the bonnet), our A1 35 TFSI’s performance proved unremarkable and, at times, exasperating, which is a shame given that this engine might have proved a sweet match for a supermini.
In dry conditions, the test car struggled to spring off the mark as nimbly or cleanly as we would expect. Admittedly, Audi’s 1.5-litre four pulls in impressively discreet fashion once the small turbocharger has fully woken up at 1500rpm and, beyond an unusually high biting point for the overly light clutch, there’s little cause for complaint for those who live their lives at a slower pace.
For the rest of us, and for the person paying for a premium hatchback with at least a little sporting ambition, there’s a frustrating lack of urgency because the economy-minded gearing for the six-speed manual transmission is so long. Power is delivered in linear but languid fashion, and so to go anywhere quickly you need to work the engine hard, shifting gears often and using generous and sustained throttle inputs. Sadly, this engine simply doesn’t have the character to reward the effort required and so, for the most part, the A1 35 TFSI feels somewhat limp.