DRIVEN: Audi A1 Citycarver

It seems everyone wants to make rugged versions of their not-so-rugged cars. Raise the suspension and slap some plastic cladding on the outside and call it a day. The new A1 Citycarver seems to fit that bill but I think it might, for some, be the ideal premium city car.

So what is the A1 Citycarver? It’s based upon the latest A1 but with some fundamental tweaks to the formula. It sits a little higher and features different front and rear bumpers with darker plastic clad arches and trim pieces. It’s not an offroad A1. The added ride height aids access (especially for people with reduced mobility – I can see it being a hit with older buyers) and makes speed humps and city obstacles a little easier. It doesn’t aid handling or sportiness though. You’ll want a normal A1 if you’re more interested in a sporty driving experience.

Inside it’s much like the normal A1. It’s typical Audi build quality and really feels a step above many of its peers. The standard Audi MMI and virtual dash feature and are just as easy to use as ever. Apple Carplay and Android Auto feature making the standard NAV and audio controls almost redundant. If you choose to use the built in nav then you’ll get directions in the main instrument binnacle as well as on the main screen. It’s really rather good thanks to Google integration.

Performance wise the A1 Citycarver features either a 116hp 1l or 150hp 1.5l engine. We tested the 1l and frankly the performance from such a small engine is impressive. It’s really all you need in town and works well on the motorway too. I’d still opt for the 1.5l though as the fuel consumption is virtually the same and yearly tax is the same. It’s 1.7 seconds faster to sixty too.

The A1 is surprisingly fun to drive. Small Audis can have a habit of being very well sorted but a tad numb to drive. The A1 is hardly a sports car but hustle it a bit and you’ll be rewarded with some good dynamics. If Audi release an S1 variant at some point then I can imagine that it would make for a fast and fun daily driver.

Conclusion

The A1 Citycarver is an interesting proposition. At first it seems to have an identity crisis as the pumped up styling makes it look like it has offroad intentions but when you spend a little time with the car you realise it has a different remit. Personally I’d stick with the stock A1 as you get all the great bits of this car but with more aggressive and attractive styling. But if you like the chunky look and want a premium city hatchback then you can’t got wrong with the A1 Citycarver.

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