Audi likes to underscore its record of innovation but the company owes a big debt of gratitude to its rivals from Bavaria, BMW, who showed with the MINI range that consumers were prepared to pay a sizeable premium for an upmarket citycar. Audi will doubtless point to their aluminium A2 which appeared a couple of years before the MINI, but this was a car that never attained genuine traction with the car buying public. Audi took another bite with the A1 in 2010 and this has cemented a reputation as the most polished small car on sale.
Back in 2010, the Ingolstadt brand was only just getting started though. The range launched with a choice of a 1.2-litre TFSI petrol unit good for 86PS, or alternatively a 1.4-litre TFSI engine with 122PS and the option of an S tronic win-clutch transmission. The sole diesel powerplant was a 1.6-litre TDI diesel which cranked out 105PS. So far, so unexciting.
Things got much brighter when the 185PS version of the 1.4 TFSI was announced, four months later, and Audi predictably nailed down a five-star Euro NCAP test score at the end of 2010, while in June 2011, the brand launched an even cleaner version of the 1.6-litre diesel, dropping emissions to 99g/km and lifting combined economy to 74.3mpg. At the end of 2011, the marque introduced Black Edition and Contrast Edition specials and used this launch as an opportunity to usher in a more powerful 2.0-litre 143PS TDI diesel engine that complemented the existing 1.6-litre, 105PS unit. Almost immediately thereafter, the five-door Sportback version of the A1 was unveiled. The last act of 2011 for Audi was to announce the ballistic 256PS A1 quattro special, with a 333 car product run and a £41,000 price tag. Only 19 came to the UK.
Fast forward to March 2013 and Audi fitted DAB stereos to A1 models, while in June, Audi launched an A1 S line Style Edition, available in red, silver or black. In the Spring of 2014, the hot hatch turbocharged S1 variant made its debut. A revised Audi A1 range was announced at the end of 2014 for the 2015 model year.y)