Wednesday 21st December 2011


Limited production 256hp A1 Quattro gives the baby A1 serious Vorsprung

Audi has moved one step closer to launching the much anticipated RS1 version of its A1 supermini by unveiling a limited edition Quattro model making 256hp. Effectively a concept you can actually buy, the A1 Quattro is a statement of intent, according to the firm.

Thought the A1 was too cute?
Thought the A1 was too cute?
"Look at the RS2 in the early 90s," says Audi technology communications manager Josef Schlossmacher, speaking exclusively to Pistonheads. "That was another example of a small-scale series that gave a lot of technology to other cars. It became predecessor of all later RS models."

Limited to just 333 cars, the new model proves Audi can cram in the 2.0-litre direct injection turbo petrol engine powering the S3 under the A1's bonnet. And just as importantly for future hot A1s, it shows that the Haldex Quattro system can also be made to fit.

Schlossmacher wouldn't confirm that an RS1 (or S1) were in the pipeline, but strongly hinted we can expect them. "Before doing an RS1 why not first do a different thing?" he asks. "There is always the chance to transfer something special into a large-scale series."

As an appetite whetter, the A1 Quattro certainly does the job. The claimed 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds just pips the manual S3 to the line by a tenth of a second, before going to hit a top speed of 152mph.

Bolstered by a intercooler, the turbo'd four-cylinder makes its 256bhp at 6,000rpm and doles out 258lb ft of torque between 2500-4500rpm.

Ronal-style wheels are a neat touch
Ronal-style wheels are a neat touch
Power is sent to the front wheels until slip is detected, when the special clutch engages the rear drivetrain to instantaneously bring the back wheels into play. Any slip then is controlled by an electronic diff braking the individual wheels, rather than using the ESC. That bit you can't see, but bystanders will certainly notice the new rear wing and twin 100mm tailpipes.

In fact, the A1 Quattro makes its presence felt quite effectively. The only colour scheme is Glacier White with a gloss black roof while the design of the 18-inch white alloys brings to mind rally specials of the 80s.

Inside sombre black is lifted with plenty of signs you're driving something special, including white needles on the dials, a red tachometer and brushed stainless steel pedal caps. The backrest covers have Quattro badges and the seats are upholstered in Silk Nappa leather - the good stuff.

As you've probably figured, this is no stripped-out lightweight track car. So there are all the creature comforts, including a 14-speaker Bose stereo, rear parking sensors, cruise, sat-nav and Audi's Internet system that piggybacks off your phone's 3G signal.

The bad news? They're not making a right-hand drive version.

"At the moment there aren't plans due to the development costs for small scale production," says Schlossmacher. "Normal A1 is made for just front-wheel drive, so there was lots of work to be done on axles and drivetrain, also things like the packaging of the fuel tank and safety aspects."

Audi UK has said it'll consider bringing in some left-hand-drive cars if there's the demand. That'll depend on the price, which hasn't been announced but is expected to be north even of the £31,625 it costs to buy the Audi S3.

Deliveries start in the second half of next year. Watch this space for the first drive.

Author: NickGibbs
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