Carving out a special niche

Audi A1 Citycarver

By Bill McCarthy

Even superminis are getting the steroids treatment these days as the appetite for SUVs/crossovers seems insatiable.

So I suppose it should be no surprise that Audi, who produce some pretty mean SUVs already, has given its smallest car the muscle treatment.

The A1 Citycarver is a striking looking car with a striking name. What is the idea behind it? Does it carve its way through city traffic? Who knows. But it’s sure to be popular with Audi enthusiasts offering the rugged look with Audi quality and a price that will not actually blow your socks off. Those looking for all-wheel drive will be disappointed however, so despite its looks there is no Quattro version available yet.

 There’s a choice of two petrol engines, the lively 1.5 litre, 148bhp petrol on this model and a smaller, three pot one litre,113bhp power unit.

The design is based on the A1 Sportback, but the more muscular look includes wheel arch cladding, underbody protection, a stainless steel finish and raised suspension giving around four centimetres of additional ground clearance for easier entry and better visibility. The striking black grille has the knobbly honeycomb finish seen across the range while two slots above the grille differentiate it from the Sportback.

It also features a large bumper to the rear, full LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels and roof edge spoiler. The colour palette is extensive and features include a two-tone option like the unmissable yellow and black combo on the model driven here, enhancing, or diminishing the muscular look, depending on your point of view.

While the exterior looks different, the interior pretty much mirrors the A1 with the centrepiece the familiar eight-inch MMI touchscreen that controls major functions like navigation, infotainment and smartphone connectivity mirroring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It sits in the middle of a sweeping, ergonomically designed dashboard, which also houses a version of the Audi digital ‘cockpit’ which can be configured in various ways to show a different combination of dials and information readouts.

Fixtures and fittings are sturdy and typically Audi with soft touch finish for the most part, but some cheaper plastics thrown in which you won’t find on some its bigger (and more expensive) stablemates.

The power unit is excellent, mated to the seven-speed DSG auto transmission, it has plenty of urge and even when pushed hard retains a sweet note.

Acceleration is brisk, the car hitting 60mph in just under eight seconds, ideal for smart getaways around town, and can confirm it is a pretty refined motorway cruiser, have completed around 300 miles on the country’s main highways. There’s plenty of power in reserve for overtaking, while road and engine noise is barely noticeable. Economy is pretty impressive to with official figures of 44mpg.

Sitting higher off the ground than the A1, handling is only slightly compromised and it feels assured when cornering, with lots of grip, while the steering is direct and nicely weighted.

Seats are comfortable with decent space in the front, even for taller occupants, but is cramped in the rear, which you would expect with this type of car.

Small it may be but it scores well with practicality with a decent sized, sensibly shaped boot. Stowage space is also good with  335 litres, increasing to 1,090 litres with the rear seats folded.

Standard spec includes  full-LED headlights with dynamic rear turn signals, air conditioning, the Audi drive select dynamic handling system and assistance technologies such as cruise control, and for safety a full complement of airbags, plus Audi Pre-sense Front with pedestrian and cyclist recognition, lane departure warning and hill-hold assist.

As ever with Audi options abound and this model included the Technology pack at £1,695 and Comfort & sound pack at £1,150. The Technology Pack incorporating the Audi virtual cockpit with an increased range of views and functions, MMI navigation plus with larger 10.1-inch high resolution screen, Audi connect with its wide variety of online services and the Audi Phone Box facilitating wireless smartphone charging.

Comfort and Sound Pack adds Parking System Plus with acoustic and visual assistance and additional front protection to complement the standard rear sensors, front seat heating and the Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system with 560 watts of music power.


Audi A1 Citycarver 35 TFSI S tronic

Price: £25,435

Mechanical: 150PS, 1,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed DSG auto gearbox

Max speed: 136mph

0-60mph: 8 seconds

Combined mpg: 44.1

Insurance group: 24E

CO2 emissions: 145g/km

BiK rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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