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Hot hatch Audi A1 – road test

audi A1

Otautahi – The Audi A1 is such a cool car and so much better for the environment in our climate change world than the big V6s and SUVs.

Its distinguishing big front grille gives the little car an aggressive look like a feisty little dog.

The grille provides ample air flow for the demanding intake blowers sitting under the bonnet. It is a supermini sized economy car launched by Audi at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show.

Sales of the initial three door A1 model started in Germany in August 2010, with the United Kingdom following in November 2010.

The five-door sportback version was launched in November 2011, with sales starting in export markets during spring 2012. This is the car we are reviewing.

It is ideal for cities and the urban environment. With its infotainment and driver assistance systems on a par with the full-size class, the A1 Sportback is firmly networked with the digital world.  The version I drive has only one radio station though, no gps and no reverse back camera.

A1 is a sporty front wheel drive euro hatch from the Volkswagen Audi Group. The sportback has a 1400cc 120 horsepower turbo engine to shift it along quite rapidly if required and delivers good fuel efficiency along with the idle-stop technology.

Some dealers say the five door A1s are hard to obtain and more expensive than the three-door version. Average fuel costs are about $2280 a year and fuel economy is 6.5 litres per 100km.

Small powerplants push the limits in engine efficiency, with engineers fitting turbochargers to force cold air into the intake manifold at a fast rate. The result is a brilliant piece of engineering that sips fuel and performs like a car with a larger engine.

The A1 Sportback is fitted with a quick shifting seven speed direct-shift gearbox transmission to transfer the power to the wheels.

The multi-function steering wheel is wrapped in leather. Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel allow the driver to manually control the gear selection. The Audi dealer in Christchurch is Archibalds. Their service team is outstanding. Chris, Logan and co are so professional, organised and they deliver.

Boot space is just 270 litres but folding the rear seats will free up an extra 650 litres of load space.

The A1 is exciting to drive and the engine reacts quickly to requests from the throttle pedal. It zips around town and with its small stature it makes squeezing into parking spaces a breeze.

Sometimes on a 60km dual carriage way I cruise along, not realising I was doing 80km. The A1’s speed is so deceptive. The low to the ground sporty character is great on the bends and turning corners.

My 2012 model’s turbocharger is supposed to use only 5.3 litres of fuel per 100km of fuel while emitting 122g/km of CO2 emissions.

The Sport Plus S Tronic fitted with a turbo and a supercharger claim to use 5.9L/100km of petrol while chucking out 139g/km CO2.

Some issues with the Audi A1 can include a rattle from the front doors, damage to the light housings caused by hot xenon lights and sticking electric windows. The biggest worry may be turbocharger issues on the 1.4-litre petrol model, which could be costly to fix.

The only annoying feature of the 2012 Audi A1 1.4 Sportback is how difficult it is to clip in the seatbelt.

Audi is serious about its responsibility to sustainably use natural resources. It runs its own environmental foundation and has planted forests near its production facilities in order to jointly research with scientific partners the conversion of CO2 in trees.

Its engineers are keenly focused on the environment. This is true not only of the individual parts and their assembly, but also the efficiency of manufacturing processes, the supplying of energy to production facilities, water cycles in the plants and logistics workflows.

The photovoltaic systems which generate electricity atop many Audi production facilities conserve resources, as does the highly efficient trigeneration power plant (power-heat-refrigeration) at the Ingolstadt site in Germany.

The trains which transport vehicles to the North Sea shipping port in Emden, Germany run on green power.