Our Audi A1 has mixed it with automotive exotica and gone slumming in airport car parks. Either way, it’s still cool. Jack Carfrae reports.
Waterproofs, open bags, biscuits, an iPod lead, two road maps and a rogue can of Diet Coke. These are all signs that the A1 has been earning its keep in recent weeks. I’ve done my best to keep it clean on the outside, for the sake of the pictures if nothing else, but the inside, though not filthy or rough, has certainly collected more than its fair share of debris. An economy driving specialist would probably tell me to clear it all out, simply in the interests of fuel efficiency.
Work commitments have meant that the Audi has virtually lived in airport car parks lately, hence the motorway mileage that comes with getting to them in the first place. It’s not only airport runs that have generated the 1,910 miles I’ve racked up since the previous report, though. I took a trip down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this month, a leggy enough journey from my neck of the woods in East Anglia. The A1 was left destitute in the grounds of Goodwood house while I went to watch some rarer, older and more expensive machinery scream up the famous hill. On the way out, I was sandwiched between a pair of Lotuses from the rear and a Porsche 911 GT3 in front. Desirable though they are, the rate at which all three drivers were switching off their engines in the inevitable queue to leave suggested that they were far more concerned about their fuel usage and the competency of their cooling systems than I was. Besides, I’ve got stop-start to do that for me.
That brings me conveniently to my next point. I’ve often complained about the competency of the A1’s stop-start system because it simply wouldn’t kick-in unless the engine had been given an age to warm up and virtually nothing was active in the cabin. No air conditioning, no blowers, no nothing. I’ve no idea why, but since the car passed the 8,000-mile mark, the system appears to have woken up. Whack the air con on full blast and it still won’t cut out, but that’s no cause for concern. Now, the engine will cut out when the car comes to a halt and the air con or blowers are active to a modest level and temperature, which is about what I’d expect. I’m stumped as to why it’s working now and it wasn’t before; I can only assume that the mechanical components are sufficiently run-in to have woken up. Odd, considering modern cars are largely software-driven.
Elsewhere, it appears to be business as usual. The 1.6-litre TDI engine is performing well and delivering its usual economy figure in the region of 55mpg. A far cry from Audi’s claimed 70.6mpg, but hardly a number to be sniffed at. Worth a mention is the fact that Audi has now refined the current A1 TDI even further, so new models are now supposedly capable of 74.3mpg and emit just 99g/km of CO2. That’s top news if you plough through London on a regular basis, because it means you’ll dodge the congestion charge and even road tax is free for the foreseeable future. I’m sceptical as to whether you’d really get anywhere near 70mpg, though, especially in the capital. I find that my A1 will nudge, if not exceed 60mpg during a smooth A-road and motorway run, but a dose of stodgy urban driving will have the fuel consumption straight back down into the 50s again. Swings and roundabouts.
Quite how youthful a market Audi was hoping to appeal to with the A1, I’m not sure. It appears that the company has done a reasonable job at least in the styling stakes, though. When I parked outside the local supermarket last week, three lads of no older than 10 walked past, gawping at it. One of them exclaimed: “That’s really cool, I’ve never seen one of them before.” Safe to say it passes the street cred acid test, then.
Audi A1 Sport 1.6 TDI
|Price when new:||£13,320|
|Price as tested (including options):||£19,385|
|Optional extras:||17-inch 5-V-spoke bi-colour alloy wheels, Audi sound system, electronic climate control, heated door mirrors with heated washer jets, Ice Silver roof contrast line, metallic paint, light and rain sensors, rear floor mats and xenon plus headlights.|
|Engine:||1598cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Power output:||104bhp at 4,400rpm|
|Maximum torque:||184lb ft at 1,500rpm to 2,5000rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||1,200kg|
|Fuel consumption:||70.6mpg (official combined)
55.8mpg (on test)
|CO2 emissions (Taxband):||105g/gm (E)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||13%|
|Size (Length/width with mirrors):||3,954/1,906mm|
|Boot space (Minimum/maximum):||270/920litres|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||5 stars|
|Date arrived:||6th January 2011|
|Mileage to date:||8,711miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||Fuel filler cap failed to open|