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Small is where it’s at, and Audi plans to be player in that growing (no pun intended) segment. With the official announcement of the A1, the German maker also hopes to prove that you don’t have to be big to be premium.
The A1 is primarily intended as a city car primarily for European and presumably Asian markets, where parking space is always a rare commodity. Measuring just under thirteen feet in length, the A1 is indeed compact, making it ideal for getting into tight spaces. Power will come from a range of turbocharged, direct-injection gas and diesel engines that start at 86 hp and top out at 122 hp, which should be plenty to get the 2300-pound package around quickly and efficiently. A six-speed manual gearbox will be standard, and a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox will be optionally available.
The exterior is styled for a sporty yet sophisticated look. The front end leaves no doubt about who makes the A1, with its familiar grille and headlight arrangement. The roofline is highlighted with a contrasting arch feature, which when finished in matte aluminum color visually reinforces Audi’s commitment to the use of lightweight materials. The three-door design follows the market leaders in the city car segment, including not only the MINI Cooper, but also the Fiat 500 and Volvo C30.
Proof that “small” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “cheap” can be seen in the interior. Rather than a minimalist plastic landscape, the A1 shows off its Audi-ness throughout. The interior design takes itself seriously, eschewing the trend toward caricature-ish cockpits (ahem, MINI!) for a more sophisticated look. Material choices are typical of Audi — fine leathers, real aluminum, soft-touch plastics and padded vinyls.
The Audi A1 will go on sale later this year in Europe starting at around €16,000. It’s fairly unlikely the A1 will be imported to North America, at least not in its first generation. Audi will certainly keep watching the mini-car segment in this country, however, and if it continues to gain popularity perhaps the second-gen A1 could make the trip to our shores. In the meantime, you can read more about the A1 at our Audi enthusiast website, www.Fourtitude.com.