First Look: 2010 Audi A1

2011 Audi A1

Audi will debut its small A1 hatchback at the Geneva motor show in March, but has released details about the Mini competitor prior to its public debut.

With the A1, Audi is aiming at young city dwellers. Accordingly the A1 offers an amazing amount of customization options. Buyers can customize everything from the exterior paint and contrasting roofline color to interior items such as the color of the air vents. The LED lighting used throughout the cabin can be changed as well. To make the car truly customizable, many of these options can be ordered and changed after the initial purchase.

Apart from the customization options, the interior is a standard Audi affair. Impressive fit and finish and high-quality materials combined with the spacious interior design are meant to give the subcompact the feeling of a more expensive car. Amenities such as a pop-up navigation unit, the available MMI infotainment system, and the optional 465-watt Bose sound system help the small A1 remain a true luxury car despite its small size.

The Audi A1’s exterior styling combines styling elements of typical of Audis and incorporates distinct new design elements to create a unique profile. The familial Audi single frame grille, flanked by Audi’s signature LED daytime running lights, is present and accounted for. The “tornado line” that originates at the hood and runs all the way to the rear of the car is a styling cue taken from the TT as well. The roofline however is all new and with the sharply sloping C-pillars gives the A1 a unique and eye-catching profile. The roofline combined with the A1’s high beltline helps give the car a sporty look and also make the car look larger than it really is.

Powering Audi’s new subcompact is a range of gasoline and diesel engines tuned for efficiency. The base powertrain is an 86-hp 1.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder coupled to a five-speed manual. This combination is good for an EU fuel efficiency rating of around 46 mpg (U.S.). A larger 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 122 hp comes standard with a six-speed manual and is good for 44 mpg and 46 mpg with the optional seven-speed DSG. Two variations of Audi’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel engine are offered as well. Both use a five-speed manual transmission and achieve over 60 mpg.

To eke out even more fuel efficiency, Audi made an engine start-stop system and regenerative braking standard. The start-stop system works seamlessly with Audi’s dual-clutch transmission, but may require manual transmission drivers to change some of their driving habits. On manual transmission cars the system shuts the engine down when the car is stopped, the gear selector is in neutral, and the clutch out. The system immediately restarts the engine as soon as the clutch pedal is depressed.

Audi will publicly unveil the A1 at the Geneva motor show in March, with sales in Europe starting later this year at a price of €16,000 ($22,000). Whether Audi will launch its new Mini competitor in the U.S. remains to be seen.

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