Tested: Audi's A1 40TFSI is great for young professionals
Johannesburg - There's something to be said about driving in a car that draws attention because of its subtlety rather than a loud and brash head turner.
And if it’s in a hatchback in striking yellow with a black roof people tend to pay a little more attention too.
Such were the musings when we were still allowed to roam freely and before the only conversations we had centred around a virus that has decimated us in so many ways.
It’s something that the Audi A1 Sportback 40TFSI S line excels at even though it comes at a price and in this case standard at R491 500 and the one we had on test with an extras list of R102 800. That’s not cheap whichever way you look at it and puts it very much in a niche market because for that money there are a lot more practical options out there.
But if you’re a young professional out to make a statement and have perhaps just started a family the A1 fits right into the mould.
Standard with the S Line package that the 40TFSI comes with are 17-inch alloy wheels, aggressive air intakes, sill trims, sportier bumpers and a bigger rear wing as well as twin exhaust pipes and LED headlights.
The options package included 18-inch Audi Sport wheels, accent surfaces in silver grey and the Black Styling Package which includes the radiator grille and grille frame, front air inlet frame, rear diffuser and front spoiler.
Under the hood sits a 2-litre turbocharged engine that’s good for 147kW and 320Nm of torque which sends power to the front wheels via a slick six speed dual clutch transmission. Audi says it will get to 0-100kmh in 6.5 seconds and evens out at 235km/h which is quick enough to battle it out competitively from robot to robot should you wish to have a bit of fun.
Inside the cabin the A1 Sportback 40TFSI S line is very much a place where a young executive would be comfortable particularly because we also had the optional technology package fitted (R9900) which is a very worthwhile option given that you get the virtual cockpit, smartphone interface and a sound system upgraded to a Bang and Olufson unit.
Sure, there’s not a lot of space and it’s a bit of a tight fit but not uncomfortably so although with my tall frame in the driver’s seat, rear legroom is fairly limited.
Boot space is quoted at 335 litres while the rear seat backs fold down in a 60:40 split to increase load capacity but this is by no means a family car should you wish to load luggage and kids for an extended trip.
But behind the optional chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles (R3400) and the graphics of the virtual cockpit you’ll be very much one of the chosen few because it feels like a special place to be belted in.
The seats wrap around your contours giving you a sense of security when the fancy takes you to give it a bit of stick on the open road.
The six speed box enjoys to be driven hard and I had a lot of fun easily switching between gears heading into and out of corners and the standard dynamic package with a sportier suspension set up, larger brake discs and Audi Drive Select makes it even more enjoyable.
Personally I would have preferred a bit more real snap, crackle and pop from the exhaust soundtrack rather than a “sound actuator”.
Also, driving at the national speed limit on the concrete highway there was a fair bit of road noise which takes away from an otherwise premium driving experience and cockpit.
The steering leans towards the neutral side although at speed and in corners it gives enough feedback to keep driving hard.
Every day driving should give you consumption figures of around 7.5L/100km (Audi claims 6.0L/100km) while in fun mode you’re obviously going to get closer to 10L/100km.
Given South Africa’s love affair with hatchbacks the Audi A1 Sportback 40TFSI S line fits the niche well although there’s a lot of competition with its VW cousins.
Also, how the world will look post covid-19 remains to be seen and at that price. Genade!
The standard Audi A1 Sportback 40TFSI S Line sells for R488 000, including a one year/unlimited kilometre warranty and five year/100 000km maintenance plan.