Audi’s new A1 Quattro leaves us underwhelmed..

Audi's new A1 Quattro leaves us underwhelmed..

If you’re a UK Audi customer, then you’ll need to petition loudly if you hope to park a new A1 Quattro on your driveway, but will many of you bother? Just 333 examples of the A1 Quattro are scheduled to be made, but they’re all left-hand-drive and bound for mainland Europe in the second half of 2012.

Audi UK will consider importing the A1 Quattro ‘if’ there is sufficient customer interest, but the car will remain left-hand-drive and availability will be in the tens, not hundreds.

So why are we a little underwhelmed by Audi’s new pocket rocket?

In May this year at the 30th annual Wörtherseetour meeting (the biggest global gathering of VW Audi enthusiasts), Audi together with the driving game Need for Speed World revealed the Audi A1 clubsport quattro.

Audi A1 clubsport quattroAudi A1 clubsport quattro shown at this year’s annual Wörtherseetour meeting.

Besides its gobsmacking good looks, the A1 clubsport quattro set the imagination of enthusiasts alight with its 496bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder taken straight from the TT RS and RS 3 Sportback.

With just 1390 kg to haul around, the clubsport quattro would have represented the ultimate hot hatchback, for the brand (VW Audi) that virtually invented the genre. So anticipation has been high in the hope that Audi bring it to market.

Instead, Audi appear to have raided their extensive parts bin, fitting a 252bhp version of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine (as used in the TT and Golf GTi) and then added the additional weight and drivetrain losses of its quattro all-wheel-drive system, ending up with a hatchback that looks on paper to be ‘slightly’ quicker than a Golf GTi.

Audi quote the car’s acceleration from rest to 62mph in 5.7 seconds, with a top speed of 152mph. Compare that with the clubsport quattro, which promised 0 to 62mph in 3.7 seconds, 0 to 124mph in just 10.9 seconds, 50-70mph in just 2.4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.

Power is channelled via a short-shifting six-speed manual transmission to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, of which there are many different configurations in Audi’s range of models.

This one is the type that drives predominantly through the front-wheels, and then transfers torque steplessly to the rear axle if traction decreases. If a wheel on one of the axles starts to skid, it is braked by the electronic differential lock (EDL) which works together with the electronic stability program (ESP) to minimise intervention depending on which mode is chosen by the driver (normal or sport).

The ESP can be switched off entirely for track use, although somehow we doubt the A1 Quattro will be the kind of car suited to any sideways antics.

The chassis of the Audi A1 quattro has been adapted to suit the dynamics of the new all-wheel drivetrain, and the multi-plate clutch has also been positioned on the rear axle to provide the most optimal weight distribution (i.e. reduce weight over the A1’s front wheels). The electrohydraulic power steering has been geared more directly (14.8:1 steering ratio) to make for a more alert and manoeuvrable driving experience.

Design and appearance

Outside all A1 Quattro’s are finished exclusively in Glacier White metallic, complemented by 18-inch turbine design alloy wheels also in Glacier White and a high-gloss black roof. Front and rear bumpers are exclusive to the Quattro model, which are complimented by the grille and its frame, red painted ‘wings’ within the headlights, a large two-colour rear spoiler and two sizeable, 100-millimetre diameter polished exhaust tailpipes.

The interior of the Audi A1 quattro is dominated by the colour black, as opposed to the lashings of red used in clubsport quattro concept. From the high gloss finish for the lower section of the centre console to the seats and door armrests finished in black Silk Nappa leather with contrasting red stitching, the A1 Quattro looks lavishly attired rather than purposeful.

Sensible very Audi-like but a long way from the clubsport quattro conceptSensible, very Audi-like, but a long way from the clubsport quattro concept.

The multi-adjustable front S sport seats have pronounced bolsters, integrated head restraints and quattro insignias on their backrests, whilst the footrest and the pedal caps are made of brushed stainless steel. Red stitching frames the floor mats, and the door sill trims bear A1 quattro badges.

The instrument cluster incorporates a number of eye-catching features, including white needles, a red-faced speedometer, a quattro logo and a colour Driver’s Information System (DIS). The multifunction sports steering wheel is flat-bottomed, trimmed in leather with contrasting red stitching and displays each individual car’s serial number (within the batch of 333 due to be built).

The gearshift knob is made of aluminium, whilst an aluminium-look finish is used to decorate various other controls within the cabin.

There’s no word yet on the likely price of Audi’s A1 Quattro, but given the low production volume and high specification, it’s unlikely to be cheap, but if you really want one then pay a visit to your local Audi dealer and put your name down. You never know, they might decide to import a couple to the UK.