On the road: Audi A1

Bay of Plenty Times
By: Rebecca Meyer

Test driving the stylish Audi A1

As I drove out my driveway this morning, I marvelled at how the 'turbo blue' colour of this sporty little car perfectly mirrored the blue sky morning. Available in 10 colours, I was impressed to learn you can customise much of the car's exterior and interior, making it your own personalised drive.

Whether it's the exterior colour and contrasting roof, for the first time customers can combine exterior and interior lines however they like. It has virtually nothing in common with the first A1, and really does embrace cutting-edge technology class and design. It does seem as if the cutting edge luxury of the bigger cars has rubbed off here as I did feel like I was sitting in a far more luxurious model.

First stop for the day was the supermarket on my way to meet a friend for coffee. Described as having had a 'growth spurt', the luggage capcity has increased since the older A1 model, giving plenty of boot room for the groceries, gym bag and any other bits of shopping a girl might like to squeeze in.

Putting the back seats down to make room for any extras was effortless. Audi has also made the loading lip lower so lifting heavy items is less of a strain.

One of the features I loved was the keyless entry on the driver's side. No need to press the button on the key tag, simply holding your hand next to the door handle unlocks the car for you. No chance of scratching the paint around the door handle with your rings, ladies, and handy when you are carrying lots of bags.

For 24 hours, I was fortunate enough to have this wee baby in my possession — the brand new Audi A1 Sportback. I had the S Line, the latest in Audi's compact fleet.

First stop for the day was the supermarket on my way to meet a friend for coffee. Described as having had a 'growth spurt', the luggage capcity has increased since the older A1 model, giving plenty of boot room for the groceries, gym bag and any other bits of shopping a girl might like to squeeze in.

Putting the back seats down to make room for any extras was effortless. Audi has also made the loading lip lower so lifting heavy items is less of a strain.

One of the features I loved was the keyless entry on the driver's side. No need to press the button on the key tag, simply holding your hand next to the door handle unlocks the car for you. No chance of scratching the paint around the door handle with your rings, ladies, and handy when you are carrying lots of bags.

For 24 hours, I was fortunate enough to have this wee baby in my possession — the brand new Audi A1 Sportback. I had the S Line, the latest in Audi's compact fleet.

When offered the chance by our friends at Farmer Autovillage to test her out and introduce her to the streets and suburbs of Tauranga, I raised both hands and got to planning our 24-hour date/relationship.

Pulling out of the driveway in style in the Audi A1

Plenty of room in the boot for shopping

To say I was excited would be putting it mildly. I was up for the challenge and interested to see how I'd find driving a compact car, smaller than my own everyday drive.

With more planned for the day and more driving to enjoy, next stop was the Tauranga marina to visit an old friend. And why wouldn't you, with a car that now not only matched the colour of the sky, but also the colour of the water — and the sense of luxury that the Audi brand exudes goes perfectly with the row of yachts awaiting me.

With its light controls and compact size, it was so easy to nip through tight gaps and squeeze into parking spaces, with rear parking sensors as standard on the S-line model, and the forward facing radar which scans constantly for hazards — other cars, people and cyclists. This smart, safe wee car even knows to start breaking if the driver doesn't (not that this happened with me!) Audi has gone all out with the safety here.

Back on the road and because this was a road trip/test drive after all, I wanted to take the long way round and enjoy the experience of driving. I have to admit to starting to change my mind about driving a smaller car again. I have always been more inclined towards favouring the look, feel and space associated with a bigger car.

To say I was pleasantly surprised was an understatement. I loved it. The steering has a satisfyingly solid weight to it, and I was impressed with how smoothly the A1 rides. Even on the big 18-inch alloy wheels, my experience was of a smooth, quiet journey. It was quick around town, and capable of accelerating quickly, making it ideal for zipping in and out of traffic.

It was a great performer out of town too — it felt solid and safe on the expressway and comes with a lane-departure warning system to help keep it in lane and a speed limiter is also standard, so you don't have to worry about getting snapped by a camera. Automatic emergency braking - that'll limit the severity of a collision or prevent it entirely - is standard.

The stylish Audi A1 feels elegant and sophisticated

The Audi A1 is great for running around town or on the open road

Last stop for the day was for a spot of lunch and a de-brief on the overall experience. I really enjoyed the small compact design and it was great for zipping around town.

Parking was a breeze and with both reversing and forward facing cameras, there was no chance for error.

Although it's a smaller car then I ordinarily drive, it felt solid on the open road and I knew I had the power behind me when it came to overtaking. There's no doubt it is a stylish and classy drive. I felt sophisticated sitting behind the wheel and felt like I was a pilot in charge of a small luxurious cockpit!

With the great sound system, I parked up at the water's edge to chill out and listen to some music while having a play with all the bells and whistles this car has. The smartphone interface ensures you are well connected on board.

Music and acoustics aficionados will be pleased to find a Digital Audio Broadcasting tuner, the optional Audi sound system, or the optional Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System.

The new Audi A1 Sportback is well prepped for the digital future, with the control buttons easy to use. Even the basic version comes with a fully digital instrument cluster with a high-resolution, 10.1-inch infotainment display, and a multifunction steering wheel.

The Audi virtual cockpit with an extended range of functions presents comprehensive and diverse information such as animated navigation maps. I loved the digital speedometer which makes it easy to control your speed.

The Audi virtual cockpit has an extended range of functions

If the default black and grey dashboard is too drab for you, you can colour code the air vent surrounds, door handles and gear selector to coordinate with the more adventurous upholstery choices in the A1 colour and trim catalogue.

Rebecca drove the S Line Audi A1, the newest model at Farmer Autovillage, from $47,000+ORC. For more info on the new Audi A1 or to arrange a test drive, contact Blair Woolford, General Manager at Farmer Audi, on 021 036 7706 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Farmer Audi, 116 Hewletts Rd, Mt Maunganui. The details

A1 S Line

  • Front wheel drive
  • Luggage capacity in litres: 335 | 335 | 270

Safety and Security

  • ABS with Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution and Electronic Brake Assist
  • ASR with Electronic Differential Lock and Electronic Stabilisation Control
  • Front driver and passenger airbags with side airbags in the front seats and side guard

Head airbag

  • Front ventilated and rear disc brakes
  • ISOFIX Child Seat — Active front head restraints
  • Driver Assistance Systems
  • Audi Hill Hold Assistant
  • Parking aid front and rear
  • Rear view camera
  • Lane Departure warning
  • Cruise control system

Exterior

  • Alloy wheels
  • Electrically adjustable and heated mirrors
  • Headlights with range adjustment
  • LED taillights with dynamic turn indicator
  • Rear fog lamps

Interior

  • Air conditioning — automatic
  • Aluminium look
  • Comfort key (with Safelock)
  • Alarm with immobiliser
  • Rearview mirror — auto dimming
  • 8.8" MMI colour display
  • Audi Smartphone interface
  • Audi phone box light (wireless charging only)
  • Bluetooth Mobile Phone Preparation
  • Digital Instrument cluster
  • Virtual cockpit
  • Height adjustable front seats
  • Front centre armrest
  • Height and reach adjustable steering column
  • LED lighting package