Wholesale reinvention of Audi’s small car will take on Mini with high-tech cabin
The second-generation Audi A1 will take on the Mini with personalisation options and a vibrant paint colour pallette, the brand’s latest preview has confirmed.
Showing the car in yellow, and detailing the colour options for the roof, wheels and spoiler, the shot also shows that the car will be launched with sportier S-Line trim, with Y-spoke alloys fitted.
— AUDI AG (@Audi_Press) June 13, 2018
It has also been confirmed that the A1 will get Audi’s virtual cockpit digital dials, and its MMI touch infotainment system, as a preview image of the car’s interior showed.
A preview showing the infotainment details the car’s large touchscreen, and reveals that the car will be unveiled at an event in Barcelona. The MMI touch system was previously reserved for larger models.
The new A1 has previously been caught testing on the continent with light camouflage, offering the clearest glimpse of the supermini’s new look.
Although instantly recognisable as Audi’s entry-level model, the 2019 version receives different light and bumper designs, while its larger size is also clear. This latest development car shows the new A1’s wider grille and flatter bonnet with three distinctive vents, as a nod to earlier Audi competition cars.
This altered look will come with more dynamism and more comfort than its predecessor, according to insiders at Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany. The aim, they say, is to eclipse the latest Mini for overall competence.
Audi plans to achieve this by using a new platform structure, a heavily reworked suspension system that features optional adaptive damping control, a new range of engines and updated gearboxes.
The new A1 is due to be revealed later this summer and the starting price is expected to be just above the £15,560 of today’s model.
The smallest Audi has grown in size and receives the new look to make it feel more upmarket and dovetail more seamlessly with the rest of the brand’s line-up.
A big change for Ingolstadt’s supermini is the end of the three-door bodystyle. The second-generation model, to be produced by fellow Volkswagen Group brand Seat at its plant in Martorell, Spain, will come in five-door Sportback form only.
The move is part of a consolidation of Audi models intended to make savings that will be channelled into the development of electric cars.
The starting point for the new A1 is a new platform. The old PQ25 structure, dating back to 2001, has been replaced by a more contemporary MQB A0 architecture, which incorporates engineering solutions already used by the A3 for greater amortisation of production costs.
The new platform employs a combination of aluminium and hot-formed steel within the floorpan. Its adoption in the new A1 provides scope for an increase in external dimensions, with the wheelbase alone up by 94mm to 2564mm.
Ingolstadt officials confirm that the new A1 has grown slightly, reflecting the shift of the latest Polo, with which the A1 shares a significant part of its mechanical package. The new structure is also claimed to bring a considerable increase in torsional stiffness — a development that is said to lead to a noteworthy improvement in overall refinement.
“There is a maturity to the new model. The differences are instantly recognisable when you drive it,” said a source involved in recent durability testing of the new car.
The increase in external dimensions has extended the A1’s length to more than 4000mm and its width beyond the 1740mm of today’s model. As a result, the incoming car is claimed to offer more interior space and luggage-carrying capacity than its predecessor. Much of the added space is dedicated to the rear, which is said to offer greater leg, head and shoulder room.
Inside, there is a new dashboard modelled along the lines of that already seen in the larger A3.
Considerable efforts are being made to ensure that the new model attracts younger car buyers through what Audi describes as class-leading infotainment and connectivity features.
These include the optional Virtual Cockpit digital display and embedded 4G LTE in combination with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink. Driving assistance functions include front assist, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring systems, as well as a tyre pressure monitoring feature and a speed limiter.
The engine line-up largely mirrors the new Polo’s. On the petrol side, a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI unit delivering up to 113bhp will remain the entry-level engine.
Further up the range, a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit with 148bhp slots in as a successor to the old turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder motor.
Topping the initial range will be the S1, although it isn’t expected to go on sale in the UK later on. It eschews the engine of today’s model for a newer turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicking out up to 250bhp.
The new A1 was originally planned to be launched with a carried-over turbo 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with up to 95bhp in combination with a standard selective catalytic reduction filter as standard. However, Audi bosses are said to be reconsidering this in light of the significant drop in sales of diesel-engined small cars.
However, the A1 will receive a natural gas option, in combination with a specially adapted version of the turbo 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. It won’t be on sale in the UK.
In addition to the standard six-speed manual gearbox, buyers will also be able to choose an optional seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission with an automatic shift function.
Whereas the first-generation A1 had four-wheel drive on only the range-topping S1, the new model will offer a Haldex-style electro-hydraulic multi-plate-clutch quattro system with a wider range of engines.