New car report: it's just like an Audi, but smaller.
With buyers abandoning large cars in favour of smaller, more fuel-efficient models, it seems that a new market segment has been slowly emerging, with many small cars from premium manufacturers taking the small car sector steadily upmarket.
And the people at Audi have upped the ante even further with the release of their new 3 door hatch, the A1. Not only is it a premium grade car, but Audi claims that it introduces the premium level into an even smaller segment than we’ve seen previously
“It is the first time Audi has played in the subcompact segment for a considerable time” says Audi New Zealand General Manager, Dane Fisher. “The A1 introduces technology not previously seen before in this sector and despite its size, it is still a true Audi” he says.
Audi is hoping to appeal to a wider audience with the introduction of the A1. Coming in at a lower entry level price point than Audi is used to, and offering features designed to attract a new group of buyers, the A1 is likely to add incremental sales volume to the Audi line-up, with Mr Fisher targeting between 150 and 200 units in 2011.
Sporty and youthful looking, the A1 is aimed at the urban lifestyle buyer. Aligning the A1 locally with designer clothing label Huffer’s Steve Dunstan as a brand ambassador, Audi is seeking to open itself up to a new, younger audience.
Appealing to the fashion conscious
While the A1’s youthful attributes will undoubtedly attract the attention of the fashion conscious buyer, the reality in New Zealand is that those with the wherewithal to purchase at this level tend to be more mature in years despite remaining young at heart.
Either way, the A1 makes a motoring fashion statement not unlike that of BMW’s MINI or Citroen’s new DS3, but with the premium cachet of the four ring brand, maybe it does sit in a slightly more premium, niche position of its own.
The A1 can be personalised to suit any taste, with a seemingly infinite number of option combinations. A Sport model is offered, which upgrades the standard model’s 15 inch alloys to 16’s, adding stiffer suspension, sport seats, gear shift paddles to the 3 spoke multi-function steering wheel and a height adjustable passenger’s seat.
Adding some pizzazz to the side profile, colour coded roof arches are offered as an option, while some of the pricier options include a variety of competition kit packages which can include aerodynamic kits, wings and some fairly "out there" retro rally-inspired graphics.
Mr Fisher says that 65% of Audi customers in New Zealand have traditionally opted for an S-Line package, which is a $4,000 option available to A1 buyers from February.
There’s no mistaking the A1’s Audi family resemblance when viewed from any angle, and when viewed front-on, the large single frame Audi trademark grille gives the little car an imposing demeanour, inflating the baby Audi’s prestige presence beyond the expectation that its small dimensions and price tag might suggest.
Like all Audis, the A1 is a class act when viewed from the driver’s seat
The A1 is lively and agile on the road, and feels a bigger car than it actually is. Thanks to an even weight distribution and a relatively sporty setup with an electronic limited slip differential, handling is precise and predictable.
Interior fit and finish matches the quality of the exterior, with a quality feel throughout. Offering features that Audi reason will appeal to their target buyer, the A1 is equipped with standard and optional state of the art infotainment and multimedia systems which have filtered down from its larger siblings.
Standard features include the Audi Concert Audio System which includes CD Player, 2 x SD Card Reader with up to 32GB of storage, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a 6.5 inch colour screen.
Powered by a 90kW/200Nm turbocharged 1.4 litre TFSI four cylinder engine driving the front wheels performance is brisk enough with a 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds. Combined fuel consumption, quoted at 5.2L/100km is frugal enough for the stingiest of owners, while CO2 emission of just 119g/gm will satisfy any environmentalist.
The choice of a 6 speed manual or 7 speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission is offered, with towing capacity rated at 1,200kg braked and 600kg unbraked.
Pricing starts at $38,300 for the Audi A1 TFSI manual, through to $41,300 for the A1 TFSI S tronic, while the Sport model carries a price premium of $3,000 at $41,300 for the manual and $44,300 for the S tronic.