Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI S-tronic: Premium Polo, Tamed Cooper

When I was first handed the keys to the new Audi A1 Sportback TFSI S-tronic, the first thought that ran through my mind was “wow this sure looks like a premium Polo”.

After just 5 short minutes behind the wheel zipping away from Audi’s headquarters, the next thought that came to mind was: “are you sure this is just a 1-litre car?”

And mind you, it does look a lot better than its predecessor.

The new A1 wears bi-xenon headlamps with Audi’s signature daytime running lights now, exuding as much class as the rest of its brothers in the family line when you view it from the front. The A1 looks like a baby when pitted against its bigger family sedans, but it still looks better than some other hot hatch out there.

Sinking into the driver’s seat, I was amazed at how clean and tidy the interior was. You don’t get full leather seats on a base model like the A1, but it does provide relatively comfortable cushioning for the average ride.

Despite it being a base model, I was pleased to be able to enjoy simple features like a multi-function steering wheel and selecting different drive modes. Yes, the car’s a tad bare, with no navigation, reverse camera, electronic parking brake, nor an engine start/stop button.

But such luxuries aside, the A1 impressed me further with its ability to handle like any ordinary 1.6-litre sedan or hatch. Despite its small engine capacity of just 999 cc, the A1’s 95 horses would supposedly get you to the century mark in 10.9 seconds.

It got me thinking of a bit on whether it really was a 1-litre plant I had under my hood during my test drive. Granted, it doesn’t possess the power of its elder A3 Sportback sibling, but it did feel a little feisty to me when I nudged the accelerator a little more than usual when taking corners.

To a certain extent, it did feel like a detuned Cooper. The A1’s steering proved to be razor sharp, albeit it feeling a little light for its weight (but so do most Audis). The 15” rims cushion most impacts on our tropical tarmac, but unfortunately still felt a little too firm for my liking.

Pitted against its Bavarian 1-Series competitor, the A1 proved to be lighter and more nimble to handle. The 1-Series feels zippy, right smack suited for the quick-witted driver, but the A1 allows you to enjoy the ride with maximum comfort.

It’s true that the Bavarian hatch might feel more adapted to the adrenaline-seeking driver, but the A1 makes an excellent choice and a joy to drive for those looking for comfort, easy handling, and top-notch built quality.

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