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2020 Audi A1 Citycarver review: price, specs and release date

The Audi A1 Citycarver is a more-rugged version of the A1 Sportback, but is it the pick of the range?...

Audi A1 Citycarver front
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Boyan Marinov
30 Oct 2019 23:01

Price from £22,040 | On sale Now

“Because it’s there” – was the response given by mountaineer George Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb Everest in the 1920s. And perhaps the same seize-the-moment thinking was behind the creation of the Audi A1 Citycarver.

You see, SUVs and their butch looks are all the rage, but squeezing something bulky through city streets and wasting hours trying to find a parking spot that’s big enough isn’t fun by anyone’s standards. So, in an attempt to address this, Audi has fitted it’s smallest car, the A1, with an outdoorsy costume.

It includes plastic body cladding around the wheel arches, front and rear protection plates beneath the bumpers, and a new front grille that’s the same hexagonal shape as those on Audi’s SUVs.

You also get a 50mm increase in ride height for climbing kerbs, but sadly no quattro four-wheel drive. And you can choose from two petrol engines: a 113bhp 1.0-litre or a 148bhp 1.5-litre.

Audi A1 Citycarver rear

The A1 Citycarver isn’t the first car to combine the city-friendly proportions of a small hatchback with the rugged looks of an SUV; some of you might remember the ‘ahead-of-its-time’ Rover Streetwise, while current alternatives include the Ford Fiesta Active and Kia XCeed.

Both of those are cheaper to buy than the A1 Citycarver, though, so can it justify its price premium?

2020 Audi A1 Citycarver driving

Our favorite engine in the regular A1 is the 113bhp 1.0-litre (badged 30 TFSI), and it works well in the Citycarver, too.

It’s a punchy performer that has enough low-down grunt to accelerate you away from traffic lights in a pinch and also has the legs to cruise comfortably at motorway speeds.

In fact, while the Citycarver weighs about 40kg more than an equivalent regular A1, there’s no discernible effect on acceleration.

Audi A1 Citycarver side

True, it’s not the most hushed 1.0-litre engine in the small car class, and you feel more vibrations through the controls than you would in a Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost.

However, the automatic gearbox fitted to our test car didn’t suffer from the initial hesitation that some other Audi autos do, so you won’t have your heart in your mouth when exiting busy junctions.

Ride comfort is another strength, with the A1 every bit as forgiving as regular A1s that don’t have the sporty S line suspension, meaning it’s up with the Volkswagen Polo in this regard and considerably better than the Mini hatchback.

The hiked ride height does cause the Citycarver to lean more than other A1s in corners, but there’s a good amount of grip, and the steering is both accurate enough to let you place the car with confidence, and light enough to make manoeuvring super easy.

Audi A1 Citycarver dashboard

2020 Audi A1 Citycarver interior

Inside, there’s nothing that tells you you’re driving a Citycarver rather than a regular A1, apart from the fact you’re sitting slightly higher. As a result, it feels more expensive than a Fiesta Active, despite some of the plastic trim on the doors being disappointingly low-rent.

Even if you’re over six-feet tall, you’ll be comfortable in the front of the Citycarver, too. And while similar-sized people might wish they had a bit more space in the back, it’s still more accommodating than a Mini hatchback.

You also get a good boot, both in terms of size and shape, but it ultimately can’t match a Honda Jazz’s for outright capacity.

If you want to know more about the interior, including how we rate the infotainment system, head over to our full Audi A1 review. Or to see how much you could save on a new A1 without any haggling, check out our New Car Buying service.

Next: Audi A1 Citycarver verdict and specs >>

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