Paul Maric road tests and reviews the 2013 Audi A1 Attraction.
An affordable Audi – it almost rolls off the tongue.
Admittedly, it’s not a phrase you hear often, but Audi is hoping to buck that trend with a new record entry price for an Australian Audi vehicle with the new Audi A1 Attraction Sportback 1.2 TFSI.
Starting from $26,500, the A1 is now available in five-door Sportback form or as a three-door hatch. Almost as small as the price is the new 1.2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
The last time I drove an Audi A1, it was the A1 Sport, which is based off the manic Volkswagen Polo GTI. It was as sharp as a tack and went like the clappers – but costs almost $43,000.
While the colour didn’t quite match my palette – an off white-blue colour called Cumulus Blue – it’s easy to tell why the A1 has struck a solid chord with the target demographic.
Stylised headlights and gaping frontal sections teamed elegantly with the optional LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) on the test vehicle.
The side profile features a rising cut line and cocooned cabin that looks fitting as a five-door.
Around the rear, a voluptuous bum proudly wears the four Audi rings and LED tail lights that stand out at night time. Buyers can option a coloured roof or coloured roof arches to further individualise their A1.
Without optioning colour inserts for the air vents, doors and seats, the interior of the A1 is fairly boring. The monotone interior is only broken up by exposed body colour around the door sills and red light backing to controls.
To ensure it wasn’t writer bias, I exposed the A1 interior to a group of target demographic individuals of mixed sex and they too agreed it was a fairly baron environment. Luckily, the $410 air vent colour inserts jazz up the interior and gives the A1 a well needed youthful look.
An impressive sound system comes standard and offers auxiliary input for an MP3 player.
Bluetooth connectivity also comes standard, allowing connectivity with a telephone for handsfree talking and Bluetooth music streaming. A single disc CD player is teamed with an SD card reader for additional music streaming.
If you would like to connect a USB device or iPod, expect to fork out a hefty $500 for the privilege.
Same goes for rear parking sensors, priced from $650. Audi teases buyers with a NAV button that does nothing unless you cough up an insane $3,600 – that’s almost 15 percent of the purchase price.
Expensive options aside, front seat passengers enjoy masses of leg and head room, which is surprising for a car of this size. Rear seat passengers on the other hand are slightly more cramped, but no less than they would be in other vehicles within this segment.
Surprisingly, the tiny A1 Attraction has a cavernous boot, offering 270 litres of volume with the seats up and 920 litres with the seats down. It also comes standard with a space saver spare tyre.
In terms of build quality and fit and finish, the A1 is top-notch. Even though the A1 is an entry level Audi, it doesn’t come with cheap materials or poor build quality.
All materials feel soft to the touch and look as though they belong to a prestigious German vehicle – a reassurance when spending this kind of coin on a small car.
Under the bonnet of the A1 1.2 Sportback TFSI is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. Producing 63kW and 160Nm of torque, the A1 1.2 TFSI won’t set any land speed records with a 0-100km/h dash taking a leisurely 11.9-seconds.
The main benefit of such a small engine is excellent fuel consumption and the A1 doesn’t disappoint, returning an official combined 5.1L/100km, with carbon emissions of 118g/km. As I found out, it wasn’t quite the case.
After you turn the key and venture out into traffic, it takes some time to get used to the A1’s power and style of power delivery. Like most turbocharged cars, there is an inherent lag while the turbocharger builds boost.
When there is only a small 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine available prior to the turbocharger coming on song, you need to keep the A1 in its boost band, otherwise you are faced with situations of considerable lag.
The result of these periods of lag is increased fuel consumption as you tend to drive around at full throttle to keep up with traffic and keep torque on tap.
I averaged around 6.5L/100km keeping the A1 moving, which is well short of the official combined figure of 5.1L/100km.
Fuel consumption also climbs when you cram people into the car.
With three passengers on board, I really needed to keep on the throttle to stay with traffic. Add air conditioning into the mix and the A1 1.2 TFSI quickly becomes very slow and a handful in stop-start traffic.
Speaking of stop-start, the A1 Attraction is fitted with new technology that aims to bring fuel use down.
When you pull up to a set of traffic lights and let the clutch out, the car switches off. In heavy traffic, this technology can reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.
Behind the wheel, the A1 is very enjoyable to drive. Direct steering and great feel through the chassis makes it a pleasure to put through a few bends. Weighing in at 1,140kg, it’s very nimble and easy to place.
The five-speed manual gearbox (no automatic available in the 1.2 TFSI) is very easy to use and is perfectly matched to the demographic.
Parking is a breeze and when optioned with the front and rear parking sensors, the A1 can make even the biggest of novices look like a parking professional.
Service intervals are limited to once every 12 months, which means less time spent at the service department.
One point that I can’t go without mentioning is the woeful wing mirrors. The passenger side mirror in particular is almost entirely redundant as it doesn’t offer a view of traffic.
The mirror is non-convex, which means there is no depth of field. Add this to a small rear vision mirror and changing lanes, especially at night, is quite frankly dangerous.
For all of the A1’s good points, there are also plenty of negatives.
Priced from $26,500, the A1 Sportback 1.2 TFSI is lineball with the likes of Mini and Alfa Romeo, but also at the top end of exceptional vehicles from Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Ford and Holden.
If you can afford to fork out an additional $6,000, I would be saving my pennies and going for the A1 1.4 TFSI.
The A1 1.2 TFSI’s shortcomings aren’t worth the price saving and at that price point, there are better buys to be had in the non-Euro competitors.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.2 litre turbo petrol delivering 63kW and 160Nm
Transmission: Five speed manual only
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: Three years