Audi A1 Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
Well, the Top Gear lot have had their mucky paws on the A1 over in Berlin. A bit scathing, but worth a read.

The link is here, but Ive popped the entire text into one page below, along with the Pictures.

Top Gear: Audi A1, City Slacker

Words: Paul Horrell
Photos: Lee Brimble


670x377Image8.jpg


Imagine living in east Berlin in the Seventies and Eighties, peering across the wall to the western sector of the city, the yoke of political, economic and intellectual repression bearing down on you. No more potent symbol existed of the West German economic miracle, and of freedom itself, than the German luxury car. Now, two decades on from the fall of that hated wall, people from the old east have got more prosperous, and at the same time the price of driving a German luxury badge has come down to meet them. Here's the Audi A1.

It's a small car with just two fairly cramped back seats, but it leans on the zeitgeisty allure of low fuel consumption, customisable cosmetics, and connectivity for music, phones and the internet. Ah, a car for the youth market, then.

670x377Image9.jpg


Go to Stuttgart, or most of the other powerhouses of the former West Germany, and far too many of the youth look likelittle more than po-faced apprentice human economic units. Berlin feels different. It oozes creativity and culture, not just the highbrow kind - though it's globally pre-eminent in classical music - but the cosmopolitan, the left-field, the progressive, the experimental, the cheeky, the counter-cultural. While Audi probably isn't going to sell a lot of A1s to the graffiti artists and lo-fi hip-hop crowd, their effect on the city of Berlin is to give it the sort of vibe that's a magnet for a huge number of the goateed media types, polo-neck-wearing architects and young entrepreneurs who are the A1's core constituency.

670x377Image10.jpg


We head off across the city on the urban motorway network. Hmmm, this 1.6 diesel is a bit gruff, and none too lively. In an S-Line car of these ambitions, 0-62 in 10.5secs doesn't really cut it. But at least the torque spread is wide and even, so you can relax about timing your gearshifts. Only five gears in the 'box too, and a slow shift with it. Luckily, things are better on the petrol front: there's a much more agreeable 122bhp 1.4 TSi that has low-down torque, a sweetness high up and easily beats a petrol Mini Cooper for real-world acceleration, thanks to its turbo.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
670x377Image11.jpg


First stop, Berlin Tempelhof airport. Built by Hitler to serve what he thought was going to be the capital of the world, this was initially known as Weltflughafen (World Airport). Now the Nazi insignia have been taken down, it's a magnificent building, less repressive than you'd expect, its columns of simple vertical windows turning your thoughts skyward like a cathedral. Later it was known as Zentralflughaven, because it's usefully close to the middle of the city. And its ghastly associations with the Third Reich were erased when it became, for West Berliners after the war, the landing point of the Berlin Airlift. In 1949 the Soviets, who had control of Eastern Germany, had blockaded all land links to the Western enclave of Berlin. So for a year, that entire sector of the city had to be supplied by air to Tempelhof, up to 1,500 flights a day.

670x377Image12.jpg


Tempelhof closed a couple of years back, so when we bowl up in the A1 it feels spooky to be at an airport with no security. We park bang in front for a while, then drive down a tunnel into the gate areas. The building's maintenance crews are soon affably asking us about the car.

They like the look of it, and especially the cabin. Which is what most people say as our day in the city goes on. Germans in the street are always a lot more car-literate, and less inhibited about talking to you about cars than Britons. It's a characteristic they share with Italians, though their actual views and priorities diverge wildly. Italians, even the priests and monks, want to know about power and speed. Germans ask you about price, fuel economy and bootspace.

670x377Image13.jpg


Well, here's the German-pleasing info. British prices start as low as £13,145, though the one we're in, the 105bhp diesel with LEDs and xenons, big wheels and super-fancy satnav, lies to the north of £22,000. Our 1.6TDi does 70.6mpg, which corresponds to a 105g/km CO2 figure. If you pay company car tax and can stomach the indecisive and clunky seven-speed S-Tronic (I can't), that version slips under the 120g/km barrier. Oh and the bootspace: it's better than a Mini's but that's not saying much. A Citroen DS3 has far more. That's especially true with our diesel, which has a boot eaten up by a rear-mounted battery to balance up the weight distribution, and a huge subwoofer that's part of the epic optional Bose stereo.

670x377Image0.jpg


On then, across the River Spree to the East Side Gallery, a length of the wall that's now been repurposed as a more organised art canvas than the graffiti of old. But there's enough spray-paint round the edges to give a flavour. What it doesn't manage to impart is the feeling of dread that must have been engendered by the no-man's-land that lay behind it, overseen by watchtowers and razor wire and machine guns. I remember still the shiver that ran up my spine seeing the border from the Western side in a school trip one foggy day in the Cold War era, and then, in 1989, just after the iron curtain fell, watching the easterners incredulously crossing the border over and over again, just because they could.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
670x377Image2.jpg


To get to the middle of Berlin, you can do without the A1's top-end, Google Earth-enabled 3D satnav. Just aim for the TV tower, a huge concrete spike with a globe-shaped observation bulb near the top. It was built in the Sixties to beam the communist message across the land, and remains the tallest structure in all Germany.

Berlin has been a huge building site these past years, with some imaginative constructions acting as moving reminders of the grizzlier eras in this city's past - none more so than the museum around Hitler's bunker, and the holocaust memorial. Nearby is the preserved Checkpoint Charlie staffed by actors dressed as GIs, and a place where you can take tours by Trabant, but they come across as more crass.

670x3773Image.jpg


So we swing by the high-rise of Potsdamer Platz. In the middle, dwarfed by it all, is a little green iron clock tower with traffic lights on top, the first to be installed in Continental Europe, for the square was the centre of Berlin in the Cabaret era of the Twenties heyday of the Weimar Republic. It was flattened as no-man's-land in the wall era, and, strange to say, much of the modern development was done by the property subsidiary of Daimler Benz.

670x377Image4.jpg


Holed up in the city, the A1 isn't sending me particularly amusing messages. Yes, the cabin is beautifully made and solid, but it's all a bit conservative, unless you tart it up with some of the expensive alternative colours for the seats, air-vent bezels and centre console. And I certainly don't agree with the result of our street poll of Germans on the exterior styling. It strikes me that Audi shot for TT and scored Allegro. The lower body is simply too porky. Our car's white paint does at least highlight the coupe-like rake of the rear pillars, but on the two-tone examples with a light lower body but dark pillars, you don't read the roof shape at all, and just a see a car that's the shape of a clog.

670x377Image5.jpg


Then there are the dynamics. A later sprint into the countryside proves what the town has been telling me. This car has a gummy, unenthusiastic suspension. It's got none of the vivacity you find in a Mini or DS3. It's vice-free and stable, feeling more like an A4-sized car really. The steering is accurate but over-damped. And on small bumps the ride's pretty lumpy, especially in the S-Line, though over bigger potholes and ridges it has a travel that the Mini lacks, so never really punishes you.

It turns out Audi took over the Polo's platform and simple suspension system pretty much wholesale. The only suspension components they altered were the elastic parts: springs, dampers, bushes. It sits lower, and the track is wider because of different wheels. But it just feels over-tyred and unsophisticated, grippy but unengaging. I prefer the more fluent honesty of the Polo.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
670x377Imag6.jpg


The A1 is, in other words, cynical. It's got low-emission powertrains and a beautifully crafted, gadgety cabin. But it doesn't have the core of sophistication its price demands. A Mini has far more complex and effective suspension, and Audi's own discontinued A2 had that remarkable aluminium body, all low drag and light weight and fine space utilisation.

670x377Image7.jpg


As night falls we pass the Brandenburg Gate and steer over to the Art House Tacheles, a huge wedding-cake of a building from the early 20th century that became, after the fall of the wall, a hub for radical artists. Two decades on, it emits another whiff of cynicism - it houses clubs and galleries but they seem too self-consciously alternative. The surrounding bars are full of tourist-targeted eastern-block kitsch. Capitalism selling Communism.

And that's the sense you get with the A1. On the surface it might be an admirable effort to bring the engineering values of one of Germany's noblest carmakers to a wider audience. But look harder and it turns out to be a bit of a mirage.

VIEW THE FULL ARTICLE ON TOP GEARS WEBSITE HERE > http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/city-slacker-audi-a1
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
Don't think I fall into any of "goateed media types", "polo-neck-wearing architects" or "young entrepreneurs".

Like the pics though, about to email my dealer and ask them to cancel the 18" alloys as these pics show them to be quite nice. The UK brochure pic on page 17 had put me right off.

As that's S-Line exterior, are the seats pictured the Sport Black/Black Milano Leather option?

I'm also wondering if that's got the S-Line suspension as it looks lower/tighter round the arches than the Sport I saw in the flesh.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That is not the S line Sport Pack. You cannot order full leather on s-line sport pack - not in Germany at least!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
They are the Sport seats, as you mentioned Richard.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
637 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One final note....you know the cars some of you saw doing the rounds in the UK? Want to know where they go afterwards? The scrap yard - they're crushed!

This one included!!! They're pre production cars!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
219 Posts
Yeh that's a shame. I guess because they're a hotchpotch of options just for preview so they don't fall into any country's specification. I'd give them £5,000 for the red one with red/black leather; a fair price considering how many people would have sat and played in it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
57 Posts
Jae said:
One final note....you know the cars some of you saw doing the rounds in the UK? Want to know where they go afterwards? The scrap yard - they're crushed!

This one included!!! They're pre production cars!
Its the only thing to do with them. The white one with the awful green int the seat material was all pulled and looked a bit worse for wear
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top