Few cars appeal to both men and women at the same time, and the Audi A1 S-line you see in these pictures is one example that breaks that convention. Most women like its cutesy appeal while most men will approve of its sculpted curves. In S-line trim, you get a more aggressive bodykit, a rear spoiler, as well as 17-inch alloys. The optional contrasting roofline is mandatory and helps to give the A1 the correct amount of zest. And whilst the rest of the world is only now beginning to introduce LED DRLs in their headlamp designs, Audi has moved the game on further with their new, signature, single strip DRL. Those DRLs, ladies and gentlemen, are the money-shot and I promise you will spend time just ogling at them.
But let’s quickly move on to the serious stuff. Technically, the A1 is based on the same chassis as a Volkswagen Polo and in S-line trim, has the 1.4 twin-charged heart of the Polo GTI except churning out a little extra power – a healthy 185bhp, although torque remains the same at 250Nm. These are healthy figures for a car that weighs a sliver under 1,200kg and when coupled with the 7-speed S-tronic (or DSG in VW speak), will catapult from Zerotohundred in a mere 6.9 seconds. There’s also a more basic variant of the A1 that is powered by a 1.4 single-turbo mill that churns out 122bhp/200Nm (RM180k/8.9 secs/203km/h).
As we’ve determined before, the 1.4 twincharged mill is an absolute gem of an engine. For a small capacity powerplant, it makes some decidedly enthusiastic, gruff noises. Indeed, sufficient to put a smile on my face each time I started the engine up. Its properly quick too – the supercharger kicks in at a low speeds between 1,500rpm – 2,400rpm, with the turbo taking over from 3,500rpm onwards. Electronic nannies include traction control and an electronic differential; the two working together to keep the A1’s inner hooligan at bay. Audi’s claims that the engine was designed for efficiency and not power, but we know better, and are not complaining.
Whilst you might think that the A1 S-line is just a Polo GTI wearing Audi design and four rings, you’d be wrong because that’s where the similarities end. No, the A1 doesn’t pretend to be practical; it isn’t – only two doors, and four usable seats behind them. Switchgear placement is intuitive, materials exude that premium feel with a good amount of standard equipment: a large 6.5 inch infotainment/navigation display, two SD card input slots, Bose surround system, leather wrapped steering with paddles tucked behind them. Oh, and plenty of cup-holders too.
The interior is honestly very well designed. The air-conditioning vents look super futuristic; almost as though it took cues from a turbine jet, and the speakers are housed in sporty looking honeycomb mesh grille. And even though the seats are a combination of fabric and leather, still look and feel great. Interior ambiance is also especially good, especially at night when the cabin lights up in a beautiful combination of red and white (where the women ooh and men aah).
Out on the roads, this car is quick; enough to match any other hot-hatch out there. There’s ready thrust across the entire rev range. Out on our favourite empty roads, we managed a top speed of 235km/h too. Respectable, especially considering there isn’t very much displacement in the first place. Especially impressive was how it awed the driver of a Stage 3 Mk5 Golf GTI who had to put in extra effort to keep up with this supermini. Handling was decent; steering was light, and although it lacked a little feel, was crisp and controlled. Chassis rigidity seems to have been improved a notch over the Polo GTI; made apparent by the car’s calm demeanor as I attacked my favourite corners.
The most important question then, is how the A1 S-line drives compared with the Polo GTI. There’s good news here because the two drive slightly different from each other. Whilst the Polo GTI is manic, the A1 S-line is much more refined; less raucous, but still bloody effective. In the Polo GTI, there’s a constant nagging feeling of wanting to prove yourself, but in the A1, there is no such need. Instead, you bask in the car’s refinement, knowing full well you’ll be able to keep up. Remember – the A1 was conceived to compete against rivals like the VW Golf and Mini Cooper, and in S-line trim, equals, if not trumping them both in the performance department. The fact that it runs perfectly fine on Ron95 and can return more kilometers per litre than both the Golf GTI and Cooper S is just an extra bonus.
Some months back, this car would not have made much sense to anyone, especially not when a car that shared the same platform cost RM80k less. However, with the massive price increase of the Polo GTI (~RM170k), the A1 S-line’s pricing doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore; especially when you consider the substantial list of extras you’d get over the Polo. Exclusivity is almost certainly a point of consideration for the potential buyer, and with fewer than 60 units sold so far, will be guaranteed. Better equipped than the Polo GTI, cheaper and quicker than the Cooper S, and more economical than the Golf GTI. We’ll have ours in red, with the contrasting silver roof, please.
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S-line
• Zerotohundred: 6.9secs
• Top Speed: 235km/h (tested)
• Engine: 1.4L 4-cylinder twincharged
• Power: 185PS / 6,200 rpm
• Torque: 250Nm / 2,000 – 4,500 rpm
• Weight: 1,190kg (kerb weight)
• Fuel Economy: N/A
• Wheels: 7.5J x 17
• Tyres: 215/40 R17
• Price: RM209,000 (OTR excluding road tax and insurance)
To view comments from the previous platform, click here.