Audi A1 1.6 TDi Sport

 

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By Tim Saunders

 

The perfect man drives an Audi, earns £48,000 a year and is six foot tall, according to 2,000 British women polled by clothing company Austin Reed. 

No better time then to test the Audi A1 hatchback, which despite its diminutive size will accommodate taller motorists. But I’ll have to pretend about fulfilling the other criteria, ladies.

The test model finished in Samoa orange with a strikingly contrasting grey roof is the entry level five-door 1.6-litre TDi Sport. It’s an eye-catching example, which seems to appeal to the girls in the office. 

Traditionally, if you were in the market for a small car then you would have to forsake luxury and instead be grateful for your Ford Fiesta or VW Polo. Therefore it is with great pleasure that you step inside the suave and sophisticated A1 with its high quality finish. Interestingly it does borrow much from the VW Polo. It really feels as if it fits like a glove. The driver sits in what is not that far removed from a bucket seat and it is just the type of setting that my temperamental back craves. 

My only criticism is that the diesel unit is noisy from outside and slightly audible from inside at low speeds. But you quickly forget about that on listening to your favourite radio station through the Bose speakers. 

This is the first time I’ve driven an Audi and I am impressed with the slick gear changes and the perfect driving position. Never mind that this is the entry-level model it beats many much more expensive competitors in terms of look and feel.

Audi likes its chrome, which is refreshing in an age when manufacturers seem to be cutting back on such extravagance. Starting on the bonnet with the four rings and the grille the chrome theme continues inside where it is liberally sprinkled around the 360 degree turning air vents and centre dials. This helps to create something rather special and a thoroughly enjoyable driver’s car. I do like the stitched leather steering wheel. A great many vehicles today seem to have six speed manual gearboxes and so it is slightly surprising that the Audi only has five. However, this little German consistently returns more than 55mpg over the course of the test, helped by automatic stop start. I wonder whether a sixth gear might push this over the 60mpg mark. 

My daughter’s pushchair fits in the boot but the rear is a little cramped, making it better suited to children.  

The centre front armrest is a useful addition on long journeys when few gear changes are made. For town centre driving this can be easily raised. 

Who would have thought that you could reinvent the rear wash/wipe? But Audi has by fitting the washer nozzle to the actual windscreen wiper. When engaged the jet of water that is projected across the screen creates an eye-catching feature. 

And the built-in indicators on the wing mirrors are helpful from a safety point of view for other motorists while also adding to the overall style.  

Parkers, the car experts, say: “A small Audi is big news in the car world. Signalling the brand’s first ever head-to-head battle with Mini – a car made by Audi’s arch enemy, BMW - the new A1 takes a very different, grown-up approach. Thanks to being well-built, efficient, a stylish hatchback, and cheap to run the Audi A1 1.6 TDi SE scooped the Parkers Cost of Motoring Award for the Small Hatchback category in 2011.”

The Audi A1 picked up another award this year, winning the Carbuyer Luxury Small Car of the Year 2012.

I suspect more awards will follow too, because it really is an engaging little number, which would make an ideal second car for a well-heeled family.

 

On the road: £17,495

 

Road tax: £0

Power: 104bhp

0-60mph: 10.4secs

Top speed: 118mph

Economy: 55mpg 

 

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