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New Audi A1 (2018) is not trying to be cute

The littlest Audi is bigger than ever. And it’s angry. Very angry. We’re told those three slits above the colossal grille are a homage to the ’84 Sport Quattro – a car with which the A1 shares literally nothing save for the four-rings on its nose. Maybe that’s what it’s angry about…cynical marketing.

Anyway, the reason for this bigness is the new platform – the same ‘MQB A0’ item that underpins the Volkswagen Polo. The new A1 is about as tall as the car it replaces, but almost six centimetres longer and three wider. The wheelbase is a whopping nine centimetres longer, giving many litres of boot (335) and some millimetres of rear-legroom. We’ve sat in the back, and can confirm that unless you’re abnormally long-legged, you will fit.

Naturally engines are shared too. From launch there are three – all petrol, and none paired with Quattro AWD. For now, anyway. The least powerful is of three-cylinders and 1.0-litres, and will be available with either 70kW or 85kW. In line with Audi’s bewildering naming strategy – basically, the bigger the number, the more you want it – these will be badged 25 and 30 TFSI.

The 35 TFSI has a 1.5-litre engine with 110kW and cylinder-deactivation, so under light-load it can shut down two of its four-cylinders for better fuel economy. Until the inevitable S1 (or RS1? We can but dream…), the fastest and most powerful A1 – the auto-only 40 TFSI – has a reassuringly healthy 147kW from its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine (a derivative of the one used in fast VWs). We tried all these engines in other VAG products – and there’s not a duffer among them. Good news.

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