Audi unveils A1

Audi A1
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Audi unveils A1

After weeks of build up Audi has finally revealed its much anticipated new A1 supermini to the world ahead of the car's international debut at Geneva.

The A1 is a direct rival to BMW's highly successful Mini Cooper. As such, prices for the premium sector hatchback are expected to start at around £13,000 when the car goes on sale in the UK.

Audi claims it has shrink-wrapped everything the brand stands for into the new three-door compact car. The A1 will be available to order from May this year.
As the pictures show, the A1's streamlined body closely follows the design cues established by the 2007 project Quattro concept shown at the Tokyo motor show. Like the Mini, the car is less than four metres long, but Audi insist space in the rear for adults has not been sacrificed.

The front-wheel drive A1 shares its platform with the VW Polo, Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, although the car's suspension has been tuned to provide the car with the handling, ride and response customers will expect from the brand.

Three engines will be available in the UK from launch; the 1.2 TFSI and 1.4 TFSI petrol engines developing 85bhp and 120bhp respectively, and the 1.6 TDI producing 104bhp. All engines will feature start-stop and energy recuperation technology.

Audi claims both petrol units are capable of over 55mpg and emit 119g/km CO2. That figure is good enough to qualify for the same £35 road tax as the 1.6 TDI which emits 102g/km, but expect to see a lower-powered version of the engine dip beneath the 99g/km limit in the not too distant future.

Mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, the current 1.6 TDI will be capable of returning 72mpg, but with less careful driving can hit 62mph in 10.8 seconds and a top speed of 116mph.

The entry-level 1.2 TFSI will also get a five-speed manual, but the flagship 1.4 TFSI comes with a six-speed manual as standard or the option of Audi's seven-speed S tronic transmission. With the twin-clutch gearbox the A1 makes it to 62mph in 9.1 seconds on the way to a 124mph top speed.

All versions of the A1 will get Audi's latest ESP system that deploys torque to the outside wheel while braking the inside wheel when it detects slip during cornering.

The system is designed to reduce understeer and increase agility. With a kerbweight of just 1045kg, the A1 promises the same kind of nimble supermini handling that has helped make the Mini so popular.

With superior finish at the cornerstone of Audi's brand, expect the A1 to feel like an upmarket product on the inside. Three familiar trim levels will be available in the UK; SE, Sport and S-line.

Standard features will include alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric front windows and mirrors, remote central locking, a single CD audio system and split folding rear seats. Audi's latest Multi Media Interface system, which includes 3D navigation, a 60 gigabyte hard drive and 6.5-inch TFT screen, will be available as an option.

The A1 will also offer numerous options for customisation of the interior, including the contrasting colour scheme for the A, B and C pillars seen on the concept car.

The three-door model is likely to be followed by five-door version next year. Autocar reported that an S1 is already in the pipeline, and will be joined by a A1 cabriolet in 2012.

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