Thursday 1st March 2012


Harris still none the wiser about the A1 Quattro, but attempts to find out via the power of video

Still not quite sure what to make of this car, or the event at which we drove it.

A proper Stig, helmetless and everything
A proper Stig, helmetless and everything
It goes without saying that any car launch which offers attendees the chance to sit next to Stig Blomqvist in a factory Sport Quattro rally car cannot ever be described as bad, but this current fad of launching cars in a specification and on surfaces that bear no resemblance to real conditions does seem odd. Perhaps Audi is trying to hide something? It did the same with the RS3 - which seems to have taken chassis flak from many people.

More pertinent in the case of this car is how we respond to these trinket machines – and we need to think about this because they are going to become more and more commonplace. That’s right, in the oxymoronic world of the motorcar, super rare, super pricey limited editions will soon be commonplace.

A proper Quattro for him to drive
A proper Quattro for him to drive
Audi says that it is only making 333 A1 Quattros to keep them exclusive and because it ‘likes the number’ (R8 GT volumes were the same, but one suspects all the A1s will actually find homes) but there must surely be other reasons. The most obvious of which is, you’d suppose, a real RS1 sometime soon; the sneaker is type approval.

I don’t know how the German TuV works this stuff, but clearly there is some margin for mechanical madness if you produce small volumes. BMW wouldn’t publically admit the M3 GTS fitted into this category, but I can’t see how that exhaust could be legal any other way. It would trip the Brussels noise-meter doing a static 4,500rpm test over in Garching.

Manufacturers using small volume type-approval rules to indulge their passions has to be good news.

Harris eye view of the A1 Quattro
Harris eye view of the A1 Quattro
The A1 quattro doesn’t quite fit into this category. Yes, it’s a fast car, but not so brisk that we’ll be talking about it altering our perception of small-hatches a decade from now. The more I think about the car, the more confused I am. It seems like a deliberate act on the part of Audi to undermine its performance arm Quattro GmbH. Dynamically, I couldn’t tell you an awful lot, but despite the fact that we got the car to some extreme angles, a brief drive in the revised RS5 showed just how front-biased the Haldex 4WD system in the A1 really is. Actually, on studs, on a frozen lake, the revised RS5 was a thing of joy.

Anyway, here’s the vid, my first of 2012 without the faithful Neil Carey shooting and editing because there wasn’t space on the plane to get him there. I don’t intend to have many closing titles that read: Written, presented, drifted and edited by Chris Harris. Final Cut Pro is way more difficult than oversteer.

Regardless, enjoy the vid!


Author: Chris Harris
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