Our cars: Audi A1 - March 2012
Week ending March 30
Miles this week 500 miles
Audi A1 review
The A1’s winter tyres have recently been swapped for the original ‘summer’ tyres, and there are two things you notice about the change straight away.
One common complaint over the winter was the car’s ride – most colleagues said it wasn’t as good as on other A1s they’d tested. With the original tyres back on, the ride felt much better straight away. It wasn’t bad before, just not as good.
We also swapped alloy wheels with the tyres, so now the A1 is back on its original factory-fit rims – which I think look so much better than the ones the winter tyres came with. I think they finish off the A1 perfectly.
Week ending March 23
Miles this week 450 miles
Our Audi A1 has a new (slightly) bigger brother, a five-door version known as the Sportback. I went over to Gloucester earlier this week to drive it and, to see how the new version compares, I did the 200-mile round trip in our beloved long-termer.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much to separate them on the road. The Sportbacks we drove didn’t ride as smoothly as our car, but that’s probably due to the fact that they all had optional 17-inch wheels rather than the standard 16-inchers on our car. We know from experience that this does the ride no favours at all.
On the other hand, the Sportback does provide more rear headroom than our three-door, so there’s enough space to seat four adults comfortably – that’s something our car can’t do. However, while the Sportback improves life for passengers, it’s actually a bit less practical for carrying loads. The boot is no bigger and, when you fold the rear seats down, the backrests don’t lie flat. In our car, they do.
You can read the full test of the A1 Sportback here.
Week ending March 16
Driven this week: 408
I’ve been spending more time in our A1 than in pretty much any other car lately, and that familiarity is breeding real contentment. In fact, it’s a sure sign of how good the car is that, the longer I spend in it, the more I notice that I haven’t really noticed anything.
In other cars, as time goes by, niggles become irritations or worse. However, in the A1, nothing could be further from the truth.
On longer journeys, mile after mile passes without incident; my six-foot-two frame is never less than comfortable behind the wheel; and, the quality of the cabin never ceases to impress.
The only thing that does occasionally upset the calm is the ride. Usually I’m confined to town, and I’m willing to forgive the firmness of the A1’s suspension; but this week I had to cover the launch of the new Hyundai i30 in Berkshire, and here the A1’s ride revealed a less pleasant side.
On some of the country roads between the M4 and the launch venue, the A1 all too often hit bumps too hard for my liking – even taking into account the car’s Sport badge. I might not have minded so much had the i30 not shown just how smoothly it was possible to drive along the same roads.
Week ending March 9
Driven this week: 90
Audi A1 review
I’ve spent very little time in any A1s; but, having spent a little time in ours this week, I can thoroughly understand why my colleagues voted it Car of the Year in 2011.
Sadly, I spent most of my time crawling round London’s South Circular, heading to St Dunstan’s College, Catford, for my other job as a Fives coach. However, even that was enough to show off the A1’s qualities.
I loved its sporty engine, its rorty exhaust note and even the way you need to drive it quite hard to get the best from it. Naturally, the car’s small size was perfect for darting in and out of the traffic, and although I found the ride firm, I felt it was forgivably so.
I also came to appreciate the A1’s high-quality interior. In particular, I came to appreciate the stereo, as I find great music is the only successful antidote to London traffic. So, with my iPod plugged in and Cardiacs’ ‘Fiery Gun Hand’ and ‘Dog-like Sparky’ blasting out, I was almost certainly the only person on the South Circular with a smile on my face.
Week ending March 2
Driven this week: 52 miles
I tried the A1 2.0 TDI S line model earlier this week, and there are some good and bad points to it compared with our A1.
The 141bhp diesel engine has a bit more than our 121bhp petrol, but you can really feel that extra power. It’s more sprightly on the motorway, but is maybe a little too much for pottering around town.
Overall, though, I’m not sure I’d fork out £19,490 for it, when our A1 is £15,670 and is just as good to drive.