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LIFE BEGINS AT 30 (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
With the original A1, this Ingolstadt maker pioneered the idea of a premium supermini. With this second generation version, they aim to perfect it. Jonathan Crouch tries the 30 TFSI variant.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 77
The Audi A1 has firmly established itself as the ultimate supermini - the essence of democratic down-sizing. This second generation A1 Sportback is smarter, more efficient and better-equipped - and remains a seductive package for small car buyers. Luxury makers often cut corners to drive down the cost of their smaller models and it shows. Not Audi. In any form you choose, this A1 Sportback will always feel reassuringly expensive. Let's try it in 30 TFSI guise.
Backgroundword count: 174
In developing this car, Audi wanted to better replicate some of the sportiness of a rival MINI Hatch 5-Door. And, at the same time, inject into this car a level of comfort and technology never previously seen in the supermini segment. Which is why this MK2-series A1 standardises features like a fully-digitalised instrument cluster, full-LED headlights and the kind of advanced infotainment and camera-driven safety tech you wouldn't expect to find on a supermini-sized car. The A1 only comes in this five-door Sportback form this time round and, as before, shares all its core engineering with other Volkswagen Group superminis - namely the Volkswagen Polo and the SEAT Ibiza. So, like those cars, this one features the Wolfsburg conglomerate's latest MQB-A0 platform. Being stiffer, smarter and lighter, this should allow for more engaging driving dynamics - which was a key missing attribute with this car's predecessor. It all sounds quite promising. Let's see what the smallest expression of 'Vorsprung durch tecknik' can now deliver at the wheel of the most popular 30 TFSI variant.
Driving Experienceword count: 218
You sense right from the outset in driving this second generation A1 that it's a car with quite a bit more of its own personality, even though - as before - all the engineering is still of Polo parentage. The steering's probably the biggest change. It could still use a bit more feel but it's much sharper than before and allows you to place the car exactly where you want it through the bends; clearly the development team were looking to go some way towards the drive dynamics of a rival MINI 5-Door Hatch. But not all the way. Audi buyers wouldn't want that MINI model's firm ride, notchy gearbox and questionable levels of refinement and none of those things are served up here. Engine-wise, the A1 range kicks off with the '25 TFSI' derivative, which has a 1.0-litre three cylinder powerplant offering 95PS, but the vast majority of likely buyers will prefer the '30 TFSI' model we're trying here, which uses a 116PS version of the same engine. With this variant, rest to 62mph occupies 9.5s en route to 126mph; or, to put it another way, not quite as fast as the MINI Cooper 5-Door Hatch, but quicker than the MINI One model - which you sense was the kind of compromise that Audi was aiming at.
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