Well I suppose quattro is four in Italian

The previous post on that turbo-cento got me thinking about a new car which it’s very, very similar to. Well, similar in that it’s essentially a small city-car with a turbocharger attached. So like two peas in a pod then; yesterday’s Fiat and today’s Audi A1 Quattro:

I have to admit I am a fan of the normal A1, so the thought of an high-performance, four-wheel drive version excites me a great deal. 256bhp and 258lb-ft of torque in a baby hatchback can only make for rapid progress potential. I also love the way it looks. For once that deep Audi grille is matched with the pumped up bodywork of the rest of the car. I particularly like the red strips in the head lights, the wide gloss black panel beneath the tail lights and the race inspired diffuser.

When the A1 Clubsport Quattro concept was first revealed last year I never actually imagined Audi would bother to make it. Years of reading about concept cars had made me cynical that they are just marketing gimmicks, intended to somehow have a halo effect over the cars manufacturers actually sell. So for the fact it exists Audi should be commended.

Less commendable, however, is the mechanical underpinnings the A1 Quattro actually makes use of. Whereas the concept used the punchy, offbeat sounding 2.5 litre straight 5-cylinder engine, the real deal is left with the 2.0 TFSI unit found in the Audi S3. Given Audi’s rich heritage of 5-cylinder motors – and the fact they sound awesome – when producing something as bespoke and limited as the A1 Quattro (only 333 to be made), I would have thought wedging the 2.5 engine in there would have been achievable. Clearly not. The side exit exhaust has also disappeared, but I’d imagine that’s more to do with legislation than anything else.

The interior is also somewhat less hardcore than what the concept envisaged. Here’s the concept, with its thin fixed-bucket seats, full harnesses and shiny toggle switches:

And here’s the finished version. Very leather, very refined, very regular Audi A1. It even has an armrest for God’s sake!

My old Audi S3 had a similar armrest. It got in the way when driving quickly and eventually broke. Nevertheless, 4-cylinder or 5-cylinder engine, stripped out race-spec interior or plush upholstery, I am still very much besotted with the A1 Quattro. As are the other 19 people in the UK who have stumped up the £40,000 or so to own one of these left-hand drive only machines. At that price it actually makes the Cinquecento turbo look good value.

But let’s be honest, the A1 Quattro is a trinket, a jewel, a Ming vase of a car; to own it is the point. The fact it’ll probably be damn good to drive is merely a bonus.

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