Audi A1 TDI S-line

The Audi A1 – It’s Not A Cheap Econobox

The Audi A1 has been rumored and speculated about for a while now. Just because Audi finally rolled it out at Geneva yesterday, doesn’t mean there weren’t a few surprises to be had. The first thing you have to understand about Audi’s diminutive A1 is that it’s not, most definitely not, a cheap little car. Audi is not trying to make an entry level, “cheap” Audi with the A1. They are making a luxury, small city car, and will be pricing it appropriately.

And the other thing about the A1, and this was completely unexpected, is that Audi also rolled out an e-tron version of the little guy yesterday too. e-tron started out as Audi’s all electric uber-car. But Audi recently stated that e-tron was going to be the moniker for a whole range of EV/hybrid cars or options. Think of e-tron as being the electric version of Audi’s quatro, and you’ll get the picture.

So what to make of the Audi A1, either electrified or not?

There’s a bunch of ways to look at the car. One way is to note the broad range of drivetrains it will come with. In addition to the e-tron variant, Audi will also be producing it with a wide range of gasoline and diesel engines. In other words, Audi is serious about this car working in a wide variety of situations. From traditional guys that will go with the petrol engined versions, to eco-conscious green types that will opt for the e-tron variant.

The next thing to notice is the build quality and the comfort and convenience features Audi is putting into the A1. Audi stresses that the A1 is NOT an entry-level Audi. This is not some de-contented mechanical grab to get more market share. In much the same way that the Smart is a small Mercedes, not a cheap Mercedes, the A1 is Audi’s version of that.

But the real question boils down to will people buy it?

Will consumers want to spend the kind of coin Audi will be asking (prices around the mid to high 20s they say) for the A1?

Why spend that kind of money for a small Audi when you could get a large or mid-sized Hyundai?

We shall see.

Photos: Audi