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Audi A1 Sportback launched

Audi has introduced the all-new A1 Sportback to the South African market. At a time when buyers are looking at trading down but perhaps staying in the

By Thami Masemola on 03 Oct 2019
Audi has introduced the all-new A1 Sportback to the South African market. At a time when buyers are looking at trading down but perhaps staying in the same premium market, the A1 looks set to take some nice sales numbers at the dealership floor.

Never mind the fact that it looks absolutely stunning, even for such a small car. Audi has done an amazing job there after the rather lacklustre original.

While the car retains its A1 Sportback name, there will no longer be a 3-door model, meaning only the 5-door will be sold. Some sportiness has thus been sacrificed. Just as well; most buyers these days are looking for practicality as well as sportiness, which the extra two doors and space provide. Therefore when you say A1 you automatically mean A1 Sportback. Just putting it out there. So how big is this car, seeing as it has taken on some extra dimensions? Well, the length is 4.03 metres, width is 1.74m, and height is 1.43m. Normal boot space is 335 litres, up by 65, but can go up to 1 090 litres with the rear seats folded. All models come standard with 6 airbags.

I must say, this is one of the most striking Audis' in recent times. That it is a baseline model just adds to that spice and gives some insight into future models. The original Ur-quattro that owned the world rally championships of its time, has provided some design inspiration in places like the thick C-pillar that appears to push the car forward even as it stands still. That philosophy actually starts at the front end where the bonnet has three “nostrils”, same as the legendary Ur-quattro.

Audi is offering the roof in either black or grey, which parts give the impression that it is floating from the A-pillar. It can be paired with one of ten exterior colours, including my favourite Python Yellow Metallic. Several alloy wheel options are available for configuration, starting from the base 15-inch all the way to 18-inches. The rear end is cutting-edge, with LED lights and surprisingly, no fake exhaust tailpipes.

I guess Audi is getting over that phase. Interestingly for the first time also, the Audi rings in the single frame and the model designation on the back are black, emphasising an increased athletic and trendy appeal. While there are plenty of different ways to configure your favourite A1, the company has simplified the process as well as packages available. Therefore it should now be simpler and easier to do.

While Audi has certainly improved the interior quite noticeably, there are one or two items that still feel sub-premium, such as some of the dashboard surfaces and door panels. Large parts of these can be overcome by special surfaces one can get with certain packages or as single options on their own. Another surprise is the omission of keyless start/ stop, which I believe is par for the course for this segment. Otherwise the design is pretty cool, with sharp and edgy surfaces that give the car an appropriately funky, youthful feel.

Audi’s new MMI infotainment system has now found its way into the A1, with an offer of a 25.7cm touch screen (a standard 22.4cm system can be specified). It faces the driver, along with the air conditioning knobs and other features. Straight off the bat the steering wheel available is flat-bottomed and has multi functionality. The car can interface with several devices, including Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The optional B&O (Bang & Olufsen) sound system comes with 11 speakers and an output of 560 Watts.

The three models available in the country are the 30 TFSI, 35 TFSI and 40 TFSI. The baseline 1.0-litre turbo 30 TFSI produces 85kW and 200Nm of torque, does 0 – 100km/h in 9.4 seconds, has a top speed of 203km/h and an average fuel consumption figure of 5.8 litres per 100km. Next is the 35 TFSI carrying a 1.5-litre turbo worth 110kW, 250Nm and a 7.7 second sprint time. It is said to return 6.1 litres per 100km. Top of the pile sits the 40 TFSI pushing out a hot 147kW and 320Nm, with a matching 6.5 second time and top speed of 235km/h. Audi claims 7.2 litres per 100km. Audi has installed a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox for the 30 TFSI, 35 TFSI, while 40 TFSI uses a 6-speed S-tronic. There is no manual gearbox available for the A1 Sportback.

If you had reservations about the A1 before, then this new one has worked very hard to address them. Besides the couple of things I mentioned before, it ticks pretty much all the other boxes and can be considered one of the two segment head honchos without reservation.

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