Audi’s all-new A1 supermini is in the final stages of testing; to battle Mini and next DS3
Audi’s popular supermini is about to undergo a total refresh, with a new chassis, interior and design direction to be applied when it’s revealed to the public later this year. Spied with little to no camouflage, this is our best look yet at the new premium supermini.
First things first, the new A1 will adopt the new styling elements being ushered in by design chief Marc Lichte. As such, the body in white is far more complex than the pared-back, but graphic-heavy original. Gone are the distinctive ‘hoops’ that were formed by connecting the pillars and roof rails, replaced by a heavy, solid C-pillar similar to other Audi models, like the Q2. The model spotted is likely to be the sportier S-line variant, judging by the aggressive front and rear bumper treatments and mesh-patterned grille.
At the rear, the original A1 incorporated a wrap-around tailgate as seen on Audi’s larger SUVs. This second-generation A1 will don a normal tailgate, though, with its tail lights spread across both the tailgate and rear quarters.
The A1 will also feature a new interior, likely to combine Audi’s usually high build quality with youthful touches like configurable colour inserts and ambient lighting. We’re not sure if the new A1 will include Audi’s latest dual-screen MMI touch system from the new A6, but it will feature Audi’s virtual cockpit as an option.
Under the skin, the new A1 shares its underpinnings with the new Mk6 Volkswagen Polo, a car we have commended for its solidity and high-quality feel, but criticised for a flat driving experience. Engines will also likely mirror the VW, although we expect the wider adoption of VW’s new 1.5-litre ‘EVO’ turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while a future S1 model should pick up a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder paired to a quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Without an all-wheel-drive option in the new Polo, nor the plans to facilitate one, Audi will likely need to redevelop the entire rear suspension system to integrate quattro all-wheel drive into its A1. This was done for the current S1, costing Audi a huge amount in development in the process. To try to more easily recuperate the costs this time around, expect quattro to be available on a wider range of A1 and S1 models, maybe even leading up to a RS1 at some point in the future.
What we know for certain is that the standard A1 will appear later this year, with further details sure to follow closer to its launch.