If you’ve been reading the long running saga about me attempting to buy a new car, you’ll know that I’d swung towards the Audi A1 but was finding it tough to get a dealership to sell me one. The end result was Tyneside Audi providing me with a A1 1.4TSFI Sportback for the weekend, to give me chance to really test the Ingolstadt baby. What did I think? Read on…
Thursday – 16:45
Getting stuck in traffic having headed through the Tyne Tunnel is not the best way to prepare for a test-drive. Pulling into Tyneside Audi, I parked next to a handsome looking Glacier White with contrast roof A1 Sportback. A few minutes later, and this turned out to be the car I would be spending the next few days behind the wheel of.
First impressions were good. Being the S line, this model had all the extra niceties such as L.E.D. lighting in the doors and footwells, half leather seats and a very tidy perforated leather steering wheel. Despite costing over £18,000.00, the A1’s interior ambience doesn’t make you feel hard done by. Without wanting to roll out too many clichés, the S line’s insides would not look out-of-place in a car costing 2-3 times as much.
Heading out into the rush hour traffic, the VAG familiarity meant I was able to confidently navigate the back roads from the Silverlink to home. The 1.4 turbocharged engine felt instantly zingy, along with sounding a lot throatier than I expected. In fact my entire weekend highlighted just how vocal the mini-Audi was from its engine bay, and all the better it was for it. Lifting off the throttle at higher revs made the turbo produce a noise that I can only really describe as sounding like a surprised owl. So far, so good!
The other things which stood out were the lightness of the steering, and the lack of feedback through that leather-covered wheel. Given that the S line comes fitted as standard with 17″ x 7.5J alloy wheels, I expected to be able to sense some of their inertia through the steering. But I got none; slightly disconcerting with such big rims fitted to a relatively small car. Others have commented that the ride in the S line borders on the unlivable due to the stiff springs/big rims setup. Realistically, it didn’t strike me as any worse than the Polo I’d just climbed out of. Though perhaps owning a Panda 100HP has made anything above falling down a flight of stairs seem comfortable. Posterior intact, I made it home and took time to admire the high quality Driver’s Information System (DIS) and the worryingly low average 24 mpg showing on it!
Friday – 8:45
To get some second opinions on the A1, I picked up a former Audi owning colleague, Natalie, on my way into work. She immediately loved the looks of the A1, which in daylight appeared quite striking with the Daytona Grey roof contrasting sharply with the white paintwork. Those 17″ wheels and S line bodykit also give the Sportback some chunky aggression; for a little car it packs a lot of road presence and seemed to get admiring glances from other drivers. The morning commute did allow Wallsend’s ubiquitous speed-bumps to expose just how stiff the S line suspension actually is, but the A1’s rorty performance through the Tyne Tunnel toll plaza more than made up for this.