Audi A1 — Size Matters?

Small cars are set to dominate the sales charts once again with plummeting COE premiums. The Audi A1 is surging ahead with its mix of driving fun and efficiency. SIX-SIX.COM judges the German supermini.

The meek shall inherit the Earth or so the saying goes. The Earth might be too much of a stretch but for small cars, they’re definitely making a come back here with lower COE premiums on the horizon. Audi for one is hoping for the heydays of small cars to return given the popularity of the A1 before COE premiums rocketed in 2010.

Why is that good news for the rest of us? Car-lite is the new buzzword for the government and large luxury cars are becoming passé. Small, light and efficient is in. Fringe benefits of hatchbacks are the ease of going through traffic and the ability to chuck them into the tightest lots with ease.

If in the process of easing congestion with smaller cars we fall upon a peppy hatchback, so much the better! And that’s what Audi is banking on. The small compact A1 is alive behind the wheel. Even with its modest 1.0-litre, the hatchback gets up to speed reasonably quickly and has no trouble merging with traffic on the highway. 

While it runs out of puff once the needle reaches beyond 100kph, the compact hatch is proof that you don’t need high speed to have fun. The engine has no trouble whizzing the A1 around corners with zest. There’s more than enough verve to delight when a ribbon of tarmac beckons. Where the A1 disappoints is in its feather light steering. Accurate it might be, it lacks the enthusiasm and feel that the car is capable of. Ride quality is remarkably comfortable despite the compact dimensions and the car rides like the larger A3 instead.

The hatch is efficient too. With a claimed consumption figure of 22km/L, it will do nearly a 1,000 kilometres on a full tank. Fuel saving features includes a coasting function, which allows the A1 to decouple the transmission when you’re cruising. The lower carbon emissions mean its eligible for a $15,000 rebate.

Where the A1 shines among its competitors is the interior. The award winning interior design of the German marque is clearly evident here. Compared to its rivals, the tasteful design has a quality feel to it. Where the Mini One is gaudy and the Volkswagen Polo is bland, the mix of high quality soft touch plastics and aluminium is a breath of fresh air.

However the quality does come at a premium. The A1 is the most expensive compared with the Mini One and Volkswagen Polo. But nobody said fun was going to be cheap. 

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