Back Attack : Audi A1 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Driven [review]

By derrynwong, 29 July 2019

batch 48298708366 7c1379a5e0 k

The new Audi A1 Sportback has plenty of what makes big Audis nice to live with, but also has something they lack

batch 48298704736 45250798a4 k

Munich, Germany - Put Audi’s rootin’-tootin’ RS models, as well as the excellent R8, aside for the moment. Then, give us any modern Audi and, without actually driving, we’ll tell you how it will drive: Very sane, predictable, comfortable, no major sins of any sort, plenty of power and precision.

batch 48298826927 2c625061a9 k

Audi’s regular models do understatement and quiet efficiency very well, but they tend to blend into one homogenous brand experience, especially if they have the same engine (for instance, the new A6, A7 and A8 all have the same 3.0 V6).

batch 48298709851 ed19cb8685 k

That’s why this violently yellow compact hatch is such a breath of fresh air.

It’s the second-generation Audi A1, now switched to VW Group MQB underpinnings, which brings with it the newest technology, as well as the usual benefits of more space, performance, refinement and more.

batch 48298701356 4ad2f1e080 k

The A1 was originally Audi’s answer to MINI -; a small, stylish hatch with enough funk to attract those who simply didn’t want another boring sedan. Luxury compacts have been hit hard by segment competition from crossovers, and in our mind, this simply makes the A1 even more special now.

batch 48298814677 a0acd9da42 k

batch 48298703846 9501f28fd3 k

The fact that it looks like a rally-stage refugee in its Python Yellow paint is one part of the equation, the other is the S Line kit that accounts for the roof spoiler, wide front intakes and big 18-inch wheels. Audi fans will enjoy the new vent line between the bonnet and Singleframe grille - a nod to the original Audi Quattro.

(Click HERE to read about our time in the original Audi Quattro Turbo Coupe)

(We drive the legendary Sport Quattro too... click HERE to read about it!)

batch 48298700046 8ea7ec9168 k

batch 48298813897 1815a6991d k

batch 48298829437 2ca6f9ffc8 k

batch 48298814182 4a9694b4e6 k

Endearingly, the yellow theme extends to the interior, with the tartan upholstery and trim panels looking like someone went to town on them with a highlighter. It’s delightful, almost irreverent after the stoic monolithic-ness of bigger Audis, although the A1 packs some of their best tricks too.

(Click HERE to read about the Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI and the Daihatsu Charade GTti)

batch 48298828982 180ad1d3c7 k

batch 48298713381 a9ba787f06 k

The large 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument panel is still a treat for the eyes and one of the best around - it’s sharp, free of lag, and easy to read - while the new touchscreen-based MMI system frees up more room.

The switch from controller to touchscreen is easier to accept here, since the compact A1 has less interior real estate, and the screen is placed within easy reach of the driver.

batch 48298696611 70357d853a k

With the MQB switch, the A1 has grown considerably, adding 56mm to its length and now measuring just over four-metres long, while the wheelbase goes from 2469mm to 2563mm, and as a result can fit four adults with decent comfort.

While we were scheduled to drive the A1 with a 1.0-litre turbo engine and 115hp, we certainly weren’t going to complain about getting the most powerful A1 of the lot (S1 aside).

batch 48298816317 c8bb614fc7 k

200hp in a small car is just nice, and ripping onto the autobahn, it reminded us of the last A1 with a 2.0-litre we drove in the same place - the rather hard core, limited-edition S1 quattro.

(Click HERE to read about our Audi S1 quattro drive)

batch 48298823772 25c03763ce k

The 2.0 has more than enough shades of its rare predecessor to bring a smile, its handling is lively, but not overly darty or unstable so as to make autobahn work difficult. It holds high speed without being intimidating, and honestly, it no longer feels like a compact hatch, but something far more mature.

batch 48298711121 7cb416d0b9 k

A brash burbling soundtrack from the four-pot engine is a perfect match for the violent yellow paint, and it’s hard to stop yourself from driving like a boyracer in the A1. While traffic jams and rain were the order of the day for our test drive, on what little empty, twisty bits we could find the A1 quickly blipped, squealed and darted its way straight to a driver’s heart.

batch 48298827037 b6b584d697 k

Singapore is looking to get the car this year, says the official word from Audi, and the 1.0 will be the standard issue model though Audi also adds that drivers who want the 2.0 are more than welcome to indent one.

With hot hatches quickly climbing the rungs from hot to searing (the new Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 has almost 400hp for cripe’s sake) it’s harder-hitting, smaller compacts that deliver the not so insane fun they used to – and the A1 is prime example.

PHOTOS Derryn Wong

Engine 1984cc, inline4, turbocharged
Power/rpm 200hp/4400-6000rpm
Torque/rpm 320Nm/1500-4400rpm
Transmission 6spd S tronic dual-clutch
0-100km/h 6.5secs
Top Speed 235km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.0l/100km
CO2 137g/km

Related Articles