Friday 15 December 2017

Five doors and two cylinders ... now that is A1

THIS is the closest thing to austerity Audi actually do.

Yes folks, the biggest seller of luxury cars in Ireland have dubbed the A1 Sportback as the "only German manufactured premium car on the market today for under €21k".

That bargain - if you can still call €20,510 a bargain - comes in the shape of the all-new Sportback (or 5-door to you and me) which will cost just over €500 more than the already familiar 3-door.

So exactly what do you get for your handfull of loose change?

Bar the extra rear doors, the new supermini is taller and wider than the little brother, but it's the versatility and economy that'll attract most buyers.

Powered by a mix of punchy engines ranging from 85 to 185bhp, most will be probably opt for the 1.2TFSi petrol or the 1.6 TDi diesel - both residing in Tax Band A.

The oil burner is so green it would make many hybrids blush with emissions of 99g/km meaning it costs €160 in annual road tax while returning a massive 74mpg.

First up though is the baby of the bunch - the 1.2 litre, 85bhp petrol which will account for a good chunk of sales.


Punching well above its weight, the runt of the litter has more than enough poke for city driving and held its own on the motorway.

The diesel, which is slightly more powerful at 90bhp, is a much better, sturdier ride.

Drive an handling is nothing exceptional and neither excited nor vexed me. In fact, it is is pretty much what we've come to expect from Audi -- such is the build quality of their cars.

What did thrill was their revolutionary new Cylinder Shut Off engine -- a 1.4 litre 125bhp unit that is so efficient it can switch from four to two pistons when the car hits cruising speed -- slashing fuel consumption.

I have no doubt that this is the future of petrol engines and is so good I'd expect to see it powering the A3 and possible the A4.

It is slightly more expensive (€810 more than the 1.6 TDi) but it manages to stay in Tax Band B -- the perfect alternative to diesel.

The only real gripe is space and there is a bit of smoke and mirrors at play here.

While it will accommodate five, four would be more realistic and if you do want a five seater you'll have to order it specifically.

This six footer struggled getting in and out with my head hitting then roof and the headrest wedged in between my shoulder blades.

That said, the majority of back seat passengers will be kids and small ones at that.

A really smart car, but just a tad expensive.

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