It’s A1-derful life: Audi introduces a more personal carBy Jason Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Why so serious, Audi? Even when they are inviting us out for a drive with fun vehicles like the TT sports car, the brand telegraphs purpose and a sheer determination to conquer all with its technology. Progress-through technology pays off handsomely when it comes to winning Le Mans, first with diesels and now with diesel-electric hybrids, beating even Toyota at the hybrid game.
But when it comes to small vehicles, we weren’t sure how this would translate to a car meant for a young-at-heart audience. A Mini Cooper certainly pushes all the right buttons, as does a Toyota 86-but a downsized version of a mainstream hatchback? We went to the Fort to find out.
PGA Cars invited us to take the all-new A1, the smallest member of the Audi family for a spin around the area’s turns, roundabouts, and to run the hatchback with the busy traffic along the main roads. A bright red A1 welcomed us at the curbside of the showroom. It was a cross between a TT and a Q7 hatchback, in a package that would fit in the trunk of an A8. The car, from stem to stern, slots it at under four meters.
Trademark styling cues are all there: the huge maw of a grille, with the four chromed rings in the middle, beady headlamps with a sweeping LED running light, elongated side profile, and 3D-effect tail lamps. The A1 has a distinctive feature: a contrasting door frame, to give the car a quasi-convertible appearance. In this case, it was a light gray frame against bright red bodywork and roof. We normally are dismissive of gimmicky design, but here it somehow works. Indeed, a panoramic glass roof is an available option.
The A1 available in the Philippines is three-door only. The choice is the correct one, as the doors are longer and make ingress and egress easier. The back seat is impractical for everyday use, anyway, making the A1 effectively a 2×2 seater. The trunk volume is 270 liters with rear seat up, but expands to 920 liters with the seat folded.
The cabin, as befits an Audi, exudes a high level of fit and finish. Materials are first rate, from the meaty steering wheel to the leather seats with fabric inserts. Nearly everything in the cockpit can be customized, such as the surrounds for the circular air vents-these can be ordered in body color, glossy black, grey, green and several others, including an aluminum version from Audi’s quattro tuning arm. The information screen is tucked away in the upper dashboard, and is manually deployed. The touchscreen system includes controls for the audio, phone, and vehicle systems. The famed Audi MMI is simplified to a single knob in the center of the dash, with individual buttons duplicating the ones on the touchscreen.
Powering the A1 is a 1.4-liter engine. Gasoline direct injection and a turbocharger boost output to 122 hp, and torque to 200 Nm. Combined with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, the engine feels quick, with bursts of satisfying acceleration available on short notice. A more powerful 182 hp version is available, but the standard engine is quite adequate. This being an Audi, the engine comes equipped with auto start-stop system and energy regeneration, which captures energy otherwise lost during braking. Rated fuel efficiency (European cycle) is 18.86 km/liter.
For the introductory batch of 30 A1 cars, PGA Cars is offering S Line features as standard. The equipment includes transponder key with engine start button, sport seats done in leather-cloth combination, and perhaps the best part, the 17-inch twin-spoke alloys wrapped with 215/40 R17 tires. PGA values the various options at P400,000, a significant attraction given the car’s launch price is P1.98 million.
On our short drive on the roads surrounding the showroom, the A1 exhibits a firm ride and sporty demeanor. With a diminutive frame and correspondingly small turning radius, the Audi feels perfect for darting around the city. There seems to be a healthy reserve of power and handling capability, for when the open road invites.
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