The Audi A1 has received a facelift and there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. The 1.0 TFSI engine is a first for Audi, and the 1.8 TFSI is new to the A1. There will also be new trim levels on offer.
The Audi A1 mid-life update will arrive in Australia in May 2015, introducing two all-new engines, electromechanical steering, an optional automatic transmission for the base model and new trim grades.
Pricing for the Australian market remains under negotiation, but Audi says we can expect prices for the new streamlined range to remain similar to the current line-up.
Since its introduction in 2010, more than 500,000 A1s have been sold around the world. After being discontinued in Australia around the middle of 2013, the three-door version remains off the table with this release.
The 1.0-litre turbocharged engine replaces the 1.2-litre entry model, the 1.4 TFSI has been revamped and a sporty 1.8-litre TFSI replaces the current 1.4-litre twin-charged engine. The recently released, unchanged Audi S1 tops off the series with a 2.0 TFSI engine producing 170kW and 370Nm.
The s1 joined the family in March, launching locally in October and it's the first of the range with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive.
In a first for the A1, the 1.0-litre engine will be offered in both a five-speed manual and seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, producing 70kW and 160Nm with either.
The 1.4-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine can be matched to a six-speed manual or the seven-speed automatic transmission, though it's the only one in the line-up not entirely new to the A1; it has been revamped. It produces 92kW at 5000prm and 200Nm between 1400-4000rpm.
The sporty 1.8-litre TFSI four-cylinder is new to the A1 and will be available only with the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, able to produce 141kW at 5400rpm and 250Nm from 1250-5300rpm.
A number of other options are available for European and Asian markets including a range of turbo-diesel engines and a cylinder-on-demand petrol engine, but Australia will only see the three petrol options mentioned above.
The inclusion of S tronic across all variants completes the roll-out across the Audi family and all engines meet the Euro 6 emissions standard.
At the international press presentation in Monaco, CarAdvice had the opportunity to drive the 1.0 TFSI and the 1.8 TFSI and there's a notable change in the way it rides and handles.
The three-pot is light and fun, though you will notice the lack of torque down low in the rev-range. On the other hand the 1.8-litre is punchy and responds quickly to a jab on the accelerator.
Work has been done to reduce cabin noise, through the use of a specific technique to create thinner, lighter yet denser steel panels and greater levels of insulation.
The result is a quiet and calm cabin, with just the occasional intrusion of road noise. Wind noise is negligible and the engine tones are distinctly muted.
Changes have been made to the suspension, at the front there's a MacPherson-type suspension with lower wishbones and rigid front transverse link mounts, the rear has semi-independent suspension with separately mounted springs and shock absorbers. Sports suspension is available and the S line package offers an even stiffer set-up.
The A1 is comfortable and glides smoothly over road imperfections, even through the French countryside with its narrow roads and jagged shoulders.
Leaving Monaco, the drive-loop featured a steep trek up to Sospel with numerous hairpin turns. The A1 retains its composure through the bends, remaining stable and precise over the winding journey.
The new electro-mechanical power steering is light and smooth, consuming less energy than the previous hydraulic steering.
The new A1 also features ESC with extended torque vectoring at the front axle, start-stop is standard and Drive Select offers three different settings for throttle, speed control and steering. Adjustable dampers are also an option.
The A1's closest competitor is the Mini, but Audi continues to outsell its rival and changes to the trim levels with the facelift offer an extensive range of customisation options, Audi claims there's more than one-million combinations.
Mini has long been a pioneer of customisable cars, and this move by Audi should up the ante in regards to the competition between the rival models.
The previous Ambition and Attraction variants have been retired, replaced by A1, Design and Sport. Audi claims four out of five A1 buyers are newcomers to the German brand, and the move to offer a seemingly endless array of options to express individuality boils down to enticing and encouraging the younger demographic.
The update includes exterior styling changes. A1 is now two-centimetres longer with sharper, more masculine lines. It's sportier looking and there are 17 different options in the 15-18-inch alloy wheel range.
At the front, the headlights have a more pronounced wedge-shape with LED daytime running lights (xenon headlamps optional), the grille is wider and lower with more angular corners and the air inlets are lower and wider.
From behind, there's new LED taillights, a wrap around tailgate and a wide diffuser adding to its sporty look. All in all it looks sharper, and the tweaks have given it a decent refresh.
Inside, the centre console is clean and simple, the same layout as the previous A1 but with a few extra trims - customisable of course. Audi Connect won't be on offer, but is expected with the new generation. Navigation is available and all vehicles come with a pop-up display.
Reversing camera isn't standard, but you do get sensors with an audible warning. Parking visibility leaves a little to be desired with the high-set, yet short windows.
The seats are comfortable, all A1s feature bucket seats available in numerous colour and trim options. The Australian offerings are yet to be finalised but there's sure to be something to suit almost everyone's taste.
There's decent room in the second row, plus optional Bose surround sound. Boot space is also respectable; we managed to haul luggage for three people around at times on launch.
There will be a number of packages on offer, including a driver assistance package, that will add features like blind spot monitoring. Autonomous emergency braking isn't available, but again, it's expected on the next generation.
Audi's attention to detail when it comes to cabin fit and finish is impressive. Everything feels solid and looks to be of high quality, the only oddity is the cable phone charger in the passenger glove compartment.
Though we spent time in the European variants, the cars we'll see in Australia won't be too different. Full pricing and specification details are expected in the coming months. The A1 continues to offer a sporty, fun, highly customisable entry-level option to the Audi brand.