Audi A1 Citycarver

30 TFSI S tronic

Audi A1 Citycarver, front quarter
Audi A1 Citycarver, profile
Audi A1 Citycarver, rear quarter
Audi A1 Citycarver, dynamic
Audi A1 Citycarver, dynamic2
Audi A1 Citycarver, interior
Audi A1 Citycarver, dashboard
Audi A1 Citycarver, boot

IT is perhaps no surprise that Audi has decided to create a pumped-up version of its A1 Sportback in a bid to cash in on the unwavering demand for compact SUVs.

Boasting a raised suspension, bigger wheels, robust-looking body kit with contrasting wheel arches and sills, as well as stainless steel-finished underbody protection the new motor is called the A1 Citycarver.

Presumably the lack of any versions with the brand's renowned quattro 4x4 system meant bosses felt that it shouldn't be called the Q1 - in keeping with the crossover versions of all the German brand's other models.

While I can understand what they're trying to say with it, the Citycarver moniker feels more than a little contrived to me. What other suggestions were on the table at the meeting where the decision was taken - Townslicer or Urbancutter, perhaps?

Fortunately for Audi, such is its brand appeal that the young, upwardly mobile urbanites the Citycarver is undoubtedly aimed at probably won't have any issues with the name. Heck, they'll probably love it.

Whatever you think of the moniker, though, there's no denying that the Citycarver has plenty of appeal as a latecomer into an already very crowded area of the market.

On top of the pulling power of the four rings on its grille, the beefed up bodywork gives this motor some decent road presence for a small package while the compact dimensions mean that it is ideal for tackling the narrow streets, high kerbs, numerous potholes and speed bumps of the urban jungle.

Engine choice is limited to two petrol power plants - a 150ps 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit with cylinder deactivation technology to boost fuel economy or the 116ps 1.0 litre three-cylinder unit in our car. Both, as in the standard A1, can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission or the smooth seven-speed automatic that we had.

The three-pot is well suited to the Citycarver - proving punchy and responsive around town but with enough power not to feel short of pace on the motorway. Although typically vocal under sharp acceleration, it settles down and is pretty refined when cruising.

The raised suspension makes for a comfortable and settled ride without being so excessive that the Citycarver rolls around in corners like many larger SUVs. Grip is good and the steering is accurate but light enough to make manoeuvring easy and the Citycarver generally offers decent agility and handles well.

Of course, the absence of a quattro option does mean that straying off road is not really an option - but neither is it usually a requirement for those buying what is essentially a supermini, albeit a posh one.

On the inside the Citycarver is much the same as any other A1 Sportback - and that's not a bad thing.

There are more scratchy plastics than you get in larger Audis but the look and feel is still suitably upmarket and there is decent space for the class - with ample room for four adults as well as a decently sized 355-litre boot.

Equipment levels are also very much in keeping with the premium expectations of Audi buyers with the brand's familiar digital cockpit technology coming as standard.

This features an 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia interface with digital radio and Apple and Android smartphone connectivity as well as a fully digital 10.25-inch instrument panel for the driver.

Other kit includes sports seats; alloy wheels; LED headlights; air conditioning; Audi's drive select system, with three preset modes and and an individual setting; cruise control; lane departure warning; and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist recognition.

FAST FACTS

Audi A1 Citycarver 30 TFSI S tronic

Price: £22,695

Mechanical:116ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:124mph

0-62mph:9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 44.1

Insurance Group:15

C02 emissions:117g/km

Bik rating:27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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