New Audi A1 Sportback goes aggro

Audi’s Mini rival gets a replacement after eight years, with bigger interior space and punchier engines

SINGAPORE — The new Audi A1 Sportback has been revealed, and the first official pictures show that it’s bringing some intimidating aggression to a segment that more commonly sees a cuter, more rounded aesthetic. Unlike the first-generation car, this new one will be a five-door only.

As a style-based premium city car, the A1’s looks have always been an important consideration. This time, it’s a lot more menacing, with Audi drawing some inspiration from its Greatest Hits catalogue – the creases over the wheelarches and the triple slits above the massive grille are a homage to the ’80s Sport Quattro rally car.

This new car aims to increase its everyday useability, with 56mm of added length (to 4.03m), a whopping 94mm increase to the wheelbase and a bigger boot (335 litres, or 65 litres up).

Three engine choices – all familiar Volkswagen Group units – will be available, though there’s no word yet on which ones are coming to Singapore. Our bet is on the 1.0-litre three-cylinder, with either 95 or 115hp, although the A1 can also be had with a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre four-pots (150hp and 200hp respectively).

Audi prides itself on being an automotive tech leader, particularly in terms of user interfaces, and the A1 doesn’t disappoint despite being the cheapest model. For instance, all A1s, even basic versions, will come standard with a digital instrument cluster and multifunction steering wheel.

The slick-looking 10.1-inch infotainment screen has also been adapted from the range-topping A8 luxury saloon, although this is available only on flagship A1s. Lesser variants get a still-impressive 8.8-inch display.

Highlights of the features available on the A1 include more comprehensive Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, a “phone box” with wireless charging and ability to boost your phone’s signal, enhanced voice control technology, and for the navigation system, a search engine and maps powered by Google, including live traffic updates.

On the safety front, more big car toys can be found in the baby Audi. This includes a radar sensor that can detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, even in fog, which can then warn the driver or even initiate an emergency stop.

This radar also enables adaptive cruise control, automatically slowing or stopping the car and getting going again according to traffic conditions.

So far there’s no precise info on a local debut for the A1, but a source from Audi Singapore said that a launch in the first half of 2019 is likely.

READ MORE > Audi’s new Q3 gets pretty aggro, too. It’s also coming in 2019, but later…

about the author

Jon Lim
CarBuyer's staff writer was its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s and is enthusiastic about vintage cars and old machinery.