The Audi A1 40 TFSI is like one of those sports award dinners. Well, not so much the dinner itself but the people who attend it.
Resplendent in their glitzy Sunday best, it’s easy to forget there are hard-edged athletes underneath.
Like those athletes, it takes a little work to get the Audi A1 looking its best, but it looks undeniably snazzy in its turbo blue paint ($490) with contrasting black roof ($890), black exterior styling pack ($790) and 18-inch Audi Sport alloys (18s are standard, this design an extra $1100).
The S-line bodykit, LED headlights and red brake calipers are yours for free.
What is the Audi A1 40 TFSI?
The latest A1 has a squarer, more butch stance than its predecessor, mostly because of a sizeable growth spurt.
It’s actually 15mm lower and 6mm narrower than the previous A1, but length has increased by 64mm with an extra 106mm in the wheelbase.
Living with the Audi A1 40 TFSI
As you’d hope, practicality has improved accordingly. Boot space grows by more than 25 per cent to a useful 335L and there’s enough room for 180cm me to sit comfortably behind myself.
It’s a bit of a Spartan environment, though. The rear bench is short, there are no air vents or USB ports or even map pockets.
READ Abt boosts Audi A1 40 TFSI to 176kW
The A1’s interior is a bit like one of those comedy newsreaders that wears a suit jacket for the benefit of the cameras but shorts underneath the desk.
The rear is a bare-bones affair but up front it’s more luxurious, more ‘Audi’. High-touch surfaces are quality, Audi’s 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument display is standard, as is a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Audi connect online for up-to-date information on the move.
Driving the Audi A1
One place the range-topping A1 doesn’t skimp is under the bonnet, its 2.0-litre turbo four pumping out 147kW/320Nm, sufficient to pull the 40 TFSI’s 1260kg mass to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds and on to 235km/h.
It’s a torque-rich powerplant, peak power plateauing from 4400rpm, but still revs happily enough to the 6200rpm auto-upchange point.
The grunt causes traction issues at slow speeds, the electronics working hard from a standstill but once rolling it’s satisfyingly brisk with a decently rorty note at higher rpm.
Its six-speed dual-clutch is slick on the move but second gear is too short for even most tight corners and it can be jerky in stop-start traffic.
A manual would be a good fit, but no one would buy it.
Corners are relished, and the A1 is happy to bring its rear into play on a trailed brake or lifted throttle.
Dynamic mode is required to stiffen the dampers but thankfully it doesn’t turn the ride rock hard or the steering to syrup.
It’s fun, but as-tested it’s also $50K and at this price point there are plenty of faster, more exciting choices for keen drivers.
And if you’re not a keen driver, save yourself $10K and buy the A1 35 TFSI.
Likes: Punchy performance; snazzy looks; agile handling
Dislikes: Pricey; dual-clutch niggles; basic rear at premium price
Audi A1 40 TFSI
Engine: 1984cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 147kW @ 4400-6000rpm
Torque: 320Nm @ 1500-4400rpm
0-100km/h: 6.5sec (claimed)
Price: $46,450 ($49,720 as tested)