By Melinda Ferguson
Disappointed that she missed the national launch of the Audi A1, Melinda Ferguson made sure she got her grubby paws on the sexy hatchback to test drive it for a week around Cape Town.
If you’ve ever wanted to own an Audi but could never afford it, now might be the time to consider getting into the market, with the recently launched A1. Forget about thinking of this little beaut as an entry level drive, it’s premium all the way.
Looks wise it’s revved ahead in leaps and bounds, elegantly distinguishing itself from its predecessor. With its sporty design, inspired by the original Audi Quattro of the ‘80s, the new A1 is 56mm longer than the outgoing model and boot capacity has impressively grown by 65 litres to a massive for its size in class, 335 litres.
It’s all about muscularity, the new grille screams attitude – giving it plenty of head-turning cred.
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You can imagine how excited I was when I was handed the keys to the pick of the pack – the performance oriented 40TFSI which borrows the celebrated VW Polo GTI engine (my top car in 2018) brandishing 147 kW and 320 Nm of torque. The 40 had not been available at the media launch, so guess who was grinning ear to ear. The other two derivatives are the the “entry level” 30TFSI. You might be wondering what all these 30s and 35s mean – Audi’s new way of naming of engines. Simply speaking the 30TFSI means a 3-cylinder 1.0-litre turbopetrol producing 85 kW and 200 Nm of torque, while the 35TFSI is a 1.5-litre turbopetrol with outputs of 110 kW and 250 Nm.
There are also three exterior design packs to choose from: Standard, Advanced and S Line, which all have distinct styling characteristics. For example, all three models have alloy wheels ranging from 15” to 17” in diameter, depending on the package chosen.
On test I got to drive a sexy black little number but according to Audi there are 10 colours to choose from, including a very in your face Launch Edition Python Yellow. I’ve never been a huge fan of yellow cars although I am sure there are going to be a whole lot of takers, especially with that sporty black trim.
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Revving around back roads of northern Cape Town I became an instant fan of the 7-speed automatic S-tronic gearbox, which is a dream shifter and as smooth as silk. The A1 is surefooted, a devilish corner taker and kicking back up in premium sporty leather seats, I managed to really channel my Michaela Schumacher racing aspirations. The little beast hurtles from 0-100 kms in just 6.5 seconds. And with a claimed 6.0 L/100 km, it won’t exactly be a gas guzzler.
Inside, the A1 is up there with the Mercedes A Class and BMW 1-Series, with its new infotainment screen which can also be found in the mighty Q8. The six-speaker MMI radio plus system with a 22cm centre screen and voice control is standard. However if you want to opt for the Technology Package, with the more graphical Virtual cockpit, Audi Sound System, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and wireless charging, it will cost an extra R9900 for the option.
The interior layout is all about ergonomics and is extremely driver friendly – the info screen is easy to reach and to operate. Storage space for keys and phones is decent and rear passenger room is surprisingly comfy, thanks to an increased wheel base.
I was seriously planning to be missing in action when the dude from Audi came to pick up my ride. I had become extremely A1-attached.
30TFSI R359 900
30TFSI Advanced Line R373 900
30TFSI S Line R388 900
35TFSI R429 900
35TFSI Advanced Line R443 900
35TFSI S Line R458 900
40TFSI S Line R488 000