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Audi A1 2.0 TFSI quattro

Click to view picture gallerySomething very special just before
  Christmas is always welcome

 
and what could be more special
 
than a one-time-only drive in Audis
  exclusive limited edition
£41,035
 
152mph A1 quattro?


'ONE-TIME-ONLY DRIVE' BECAUSE JUST 20 of these left-hand drive, three-door, high-specification all-wheel drive A1s are destined for the UK
and all, not surprisingly, are already spoken for out of a production run of 333 units. And no more are planned.

This 41,035 ultra-exclusive model is not only the first A1 to enter production with quattro all-wheel-drive, but is also the first to adopt a larger capacity petrol engine.

It has a turbocharged and directly injected 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers its peak 252bhp output at 6,000rpm and punchy 258lb ft of torque between 2,500 and 4,500rpm.

It enables this very hot hatch to scorch from standstill to 62mph in 5.7 seconds and on to a maximum 152mph. In spite of the high performance, it can return up to 32.8mpg in the Combined Cycle. C02 emissions are 199g/km so the road tax is 460 for the First Year but reduces to 250 for the second year onwards.

“A turboed and directly
injected 2.0-litre
four-cylinder petrol
engine enables this very
hot hatch to
scorch from standstill to
62mph in 5.7 seconds
and on to a
maximum 152mph
...”
Power is channelled via a quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, the heart of which is an electronically-controlled, hydraulically operated multi-plate clutch located in an oil bath for durability.

During normal driving, the clutch sends most of the engine's power to the front wheels. If traction decreases there, the clutch can —
by forcing the package of plates together — steplessly transfer torque to the rear axle in just a few milliseconds.

If a wheel on one of the axles starts to lose grip, it is braked by the electronic differential lock. The electronic stability program also includes a Sport mode which sets a higher threshold for intervention and can, for track use, be switched off completely.

The chassis of the Audi A1 quattro has been adapted to suit the dynamics of the drivetrain and, in the interest of optimum weight distribution, the Multi-plate clutch has been positioned on the rear axle. The front suspension is a McPherson strut set-up, while a four-link system is used at the rear. Responsive and efficient electro-hydraulic power steering with a direct (14.8:1) steering ratio complements this taut and well balanced configuration.

Finished exclusively in Glacier White metallic paintwork, set-off by Glacier White 18-inch alloys and a high-gloss black roof, the A1 quattro stands out as something special. It's also distinguished by the unique design for the front and rear bumpers, the grille and its frame, red painted 'wings' within the headlights, a large two-colour rear spoiler and two sizeable, 100-millimetre-diameter polished exhaust tailpipes.

Finishing touches such as tinted LED rear lights, tinted rear windows and a contrasting black colouring for the rear hatch and rear diffuser also mark out this top-ranking A1, as do 'quattro' badges on the grille, roof arch and rear hatch which bear testament to this car's unique position as the first ever all-wheel-drive production A1.

At 3,987mm in length, the A1 quattro is 33mm longer than the standard three-door model on which it's based. Apart from that, it matches its counterparts for width and height. You can fit 210 litres of luggage into the boot; fold the rear seats and this quadruples to 860 litres.

Finished exclusively
in Glacier White metallic
paintwork, setoff by
Glacier White
18-inch alloys and
a high-gloss black roof,
the A1 quattro
stands out as something
very special...”
A purposeful black colour scheme dominates the cabin, from the high-gloss finish for the lower section of the centre console to the seats and door armrests finished in black Silk Nappa leather with contrasting red stitching.

The multi-adjustable front sport seats have pronounced bolsters, integrated head restraints and quattro insignias on their backrests. The footrest and the pedal caps are made of brushed stainless steel while red stitching frames the floor mats, and the door sill trims bear 'A1 quattro' badges.

The instrument cluster also shows off a number of eye-catching features, including white needles, a red-faced speedometer, a 'quattro' logo and a colour Driver's Information System. The multifunction sports steering wheel is flat-bottomed, trimmed in leather with contrasting red stitching and sports the car's serial number; the gear knob is made of aluminium, and many other controls have an aluminium-look finish.

As befits its standing at the pinnacle of the A1 range, the quattro is lavishly equipped with many features taken directly from the luxury class —
Xenon+ headlights, high-beam assistant, adaptive brake lights, LED interior lighting, auto lights and wipers, acoustic rear parking system, automatic A/C, electric front windows and cruise control all feature.

The infotainment kit includes a CD autochanger, DAB digital radio, Audi Music Interface, hard disk-based MMI Navigation Plus, a 465-watt 14-speaker Bose sound system with illuminated woofers in the doors and mobile phone preparation with online services. This feature enables a Bluetooth-equipped online car phone to connect to the Internet and deliver special web services, including Google Earth, to the car. Passengers can also connect their mobile devices to the integrated WiFi hotspot.

The only thing missing from this hot little Audi are the desirable RS badges. But then this special A1 does not come from Audi's RS performance but
is built off-line in the same factory alongside production A1 models. And I'm delighted to say that that's no detriment to the car's very real performance capabilities.

Indeed, it is one of the few smaller quattro equipped models from Audi that doesn't seem weighed down by the all-wheel drive system. It is less sanitised, so you can actually feel what the car is doing and how it's coping with extreme cornering speeds on surfaces that are not predictable —
so the feedback to the driver is most welcome.

“The A1 quattro does not
come from Audi’s
RS performance arm but
is built off-line in
the same factory
alongside production
A1 models.
And I’m delighted to say
that that
s no
detriment to the car
s
very real performance capabilities
...”
The car feels well balanced with no sudden changes from understeer to oversteer. The steering is sharp and precise and, thankfully, the suspension is not so firm that the high-speed ride becomes too uncomfortable and unsettled.

Yes, it's a true race car when needed —
but it also coped easily with normal driving conditions on the open road and in stop-start traffic.

The petrol engine, although it produces its maximum power at 6,000rpm, is not at all peaky because the wide spread of torque gives immediate and excellent response right through the rpm range. Neither does the petrol engine have to be revved furiously: just put your foot down and Go.

The only downside for the UK market is its left-hand drive configuration which makes overtaking a bit more difficult although the surge of acceleration does mean getting past slower vehicles is less hazardous.

Having the A1 three-door supermini body does mean, as with the standard car, that rear-quarter visibility is not very good. Oh, and there is the small matter of fuel consumption —
just 21.2mpg; that was driving enthusiastically, but legally, on public roads.

For: Extreme exclusivity with a mere 20 units allocated to the UK, hardcore performance, good feedback from the quattro system, well equipped, a collector's car.

Against that (although it's not put off the handful of customers who've been lucky enough to grab one of the twenty) is the fuel consumption, poor rear-quarter visibility, and LHD-only configuration. In all other respects this is a notable car, one for collectors and my driving archives! —
David Miles

Audi A1 2.0 TFSI quattro | 41,035
Maximum speed: 152mph | 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 21.2mpg
Power: 252bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 199g/km