Audi A1: Aluminum Und Small

Illustration for article titled Audi A1: Aluminum Und Small

Despite being the tiniest car in the Auto Union lineup, the Audi A1 still has those signature LED eyes, wind-sucking grille and R8-esque silver-rimmed greenhouse. However, unlike an R8, the MINI-fighter's top-end engine ekes out a meager 122 HP.

The smallest Audi will officially go on sale in Europe with four drivetrains; two gasoline engines and two oil-burners putting power down through the front wheels via a seven-speed S-tronic transmission or six- and five-speed manual. The 1.2-liter or 1.4-liter TFSI either throws down 86 in wimpy form or 122 HP with a 0-to-62 MPH time of 9.1 seconds and EU test cycle 44 MPG. A larger 1.6-liter TDI stirs the pot a bit more with 185 lb-ft of torque, 105 HP and 60 MPG. If you really must, another version of the same TDI squeezes out 62 MPG.


Otherwise, the A1 incorporates the same details as every other Audi, including an MMI infotainment system on the inside and LED lights everywhere. In sportier-looking S-line trim, the A1 gets larger 18-inch wheels, sportier suspension, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and sport seats. So it may look the S-porty part, but somehow we doubt it'll drive like one.

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I think what most people here are missing is

a. It's significantly smaller than a Golf/Focus, and is not intended to compete with those. This segment below the Golf/Focus is insanely popular in Europe, where gas is $7 a gallon. The popularity of luxury small cars is soaring. VAG has nothing to offer in this segment.

b. This car is based on the VW Polo. The first Polo 35+ years ago was based on an Audi (the Audi 50). []

c. It'll weigh about 1000 kg/2200 lbs, assuming it weighs as much as a Polo. You don't need a lot of hp with that weight.

d. This car is intended for Europe, not the US. While criticizing this car you should look at what the Euro market demands, not what the US market demands.

c. The base engine in Europe for the Polo is 60 hp, for the Golf 80 hp, for the Audi A3 102 hp, and the Mini 75 hp. All of those, except the Polo, are significantly heavier than the A1. The vast majority of Europeans don't want a 2 seconds reduction of the 0-60 time if that significantly reduces the economy of the car. With a significantly more powerful engine $6 extra for 100 miles is realistic with European prices. With 20000 miles a year that's $1200 a year extra in fuel costs alone. Taxes/insurance will probably also be higher. So most people will prefer the slight less fast version, and pocket the $1200+ a year.