The Europeans' appetite for spending vast sums of money on tiny but premium two-door hatchbacks continues to skyrocket. Mini set the trend, of course, and during the first-generation Bmw
Mini's lifetime it was hard for Euro motoring magazines to come up with rivals for a comparison test. Now, though, the ground is thick with them: the Fiat Cinquecento
, Alfa Romeo's MiTo, Citroen's DS3. And now the Audi
is late to the party. The A1 doesn't actually represent a giant engineering effort. Its mechanical basis is shared with a whole family of Volkswagen
Group cars - the VW Polo, Seat Ibiza
, and Skoda Fabia
. But the fact that none of those vehicles is sold in the U.S. tells you something. The A1 isn't actually engineered for U.S. sales either, which puts a cap on its sales potential.
So, to maximize overall profits, Audi
decided to push other higher-priced global models such the AUDI A5
and AUDI Q5
higher up the development queue. Audi
says American buyers will not be offered the A1 until its second generation.
Are we missing out?
The A1 is unique in marrying fabulous interior quality and a Rodeo-Drive options list to some remarkable performance/economy figures.
If you treat the S-Tronic twin-clutch tranny as an automatic, you find that the Audi's 122-hp turbo direction gasoline engine manages to comfortably eclipse the Mini Cooper
automatic's fuel economy on the Euro drive cycle. But it also manages a respectable 0-62-mph time of 8.9 seconds. The Mini turns in 10.4 for the auto.
But we all know no one in the U.S. really buys a Mini for its fuel economy numbers. People buy the Mini because, y'know, it's fun to be with. That's the target the Audi
should hit: not to be a need, but to be a want. A very bad want.