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The New A1 Supermini

October 25, 2019

Ever heard of a supermini?

I must admit that cars, in general, have become a lot bigger than they were a few years ago. People want more space, more comfort and so on it goes. With this in mind, the corporate giants in the motor world must succumb to the masses who will in turn increase volume and income. A sucky thing to think about really because, if you turn back the clock 10 – 20 years ago, a car was made to suit the styling and generation era more than making money. So then, what does this have to do with the Audi A1?

Traditionally a hatchback would be the smaller version of a sedan, a car with 4 doors and larger extending rear section we know as a boot, but as time has progressed these cars have become much larger in nature to suit the needs of a brand, thus leaving a gap to make a smaller version of a hatchback. So then, what did these end up being called? Superminis. A supermini’s definition is defined as follows, a small car that has been designed to be comfortable and easy to drive while remaining inexpensive.

In this hotly contested market, the rivalry is steep. Here’s the whose who in the segment. The Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Mini Cooper, Mazda 2 and Nissan Micra. They all sort of fall into tiers, with the top luxury sections belonging to Audi, Mini, and VW. The newly launched A1 takes the top spot packing premium features inside and out, powerful engines and of course the credibility and bragging rights of that four-ring badge.

The A1 has always been a popular premium car. From January to July 2019 Audi have delivered 52 564 of them alone to customers outdoing the TT, A7, E-Tron, Q7, Q8, A8 and R8. It’s no wonder then that this is an important car for the brand, especially considering that the A1 is only eight years old. So then, what has changed?

Here is a full rundown on the second-generation Audi A1. The car has grown longer by 56mm to 4.03m, less wide by -6mm to 1.74m, less tall by 13mm to 1.43m, while the wheelbase has grown by 94mm to 2.56m. The reason for this is that the A1 shares the same platform as the new Volkswagen Polo. As platforms and sizes increase, so must the car. First impressions were that the car felt roomier and a lot more grown-up, almost as if it hit puberty and started to fill out a bit more in shape and size.

The A1 with its new naming convention now comes in three engine variants. A 1-litre, three-cylinder turbo 30 TFSI making 85kW, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo 35 TFSI with 110kW and the range-topper 2-litre turbo 45 TFSI making 147kW. South Africa will only get the auto matic DSG option. The stying is very much the design language for all new Audi models going forward. Very futuristic, sharp edges and combative looking. The rear now sports sharp lines in a frown like a pattern to accentuate the rear lights and semi-square bumpers. This car featured the optional lights package which gives it the LED lights front and rear, a R14 900 option.

The front follows the tradition of what was mentioned earlier. I do like the combative and angular looks in a world of boring and frankly round looking cars. Interestingly enough the air scoop on the front of the bonnet, although fake and serves no function, looks really good, especially paired with the S-Line package, with better-looking air intakes, side skirts, a spoiler and matching rims which show the A1 Sportback in its best form, a R29 000 option.

The interior is a huge upgrade from the previous generation. For the new A1, it’s all about customization form leather and cloth trims, all the way to panels colours. Keep in mind that there are 10 exterior colours to choose from. The choice is literally yours and in the aim to reach a wider and younger market instead of plain flat colour choices. New features include virtual cockpit as an option, the gorgeous Audi Sport steering wheel as well as an 8.8-inch standard touch display with an optional 10 inch on offer. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

Interior

As for space, this was very surprising. The new platform dimensions have increased headroom, cabin room, and rear space a fair bit. You don’t seem to feel as claustrophobic and cramped as the previous generation, while the boot has grown to 335 litres which are as big as the bigger rivals the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series.

So all good and no drawbacks? If only it were that simple. I love these little cars. They are built well, have tons of character and the engines are superb in the class. The only thing I don’t like is the costs. The basic 30 TFSI starts at 359 900 but the 35 and 40 are the most realistic purchase options and those start at R429 900 and R488 000 without any options. In a premium segment, this should be no issue and with the car aiming to steal some market share with its tech and customization, I do not doubt that over time these cars will sell very well. I like it, as a classy and stylish daily car for a millennial, it can have my money.

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