Audi is just getting back into the small car game in the US with the A3 compact luxury sedan, S3 performance sedan, and Q3 SUV, but the automaker has been selling the even smaller A1 in big numbers outside the United States for years.
That's why the next three-door A1 and five-door A1 Sportback, which Audi revealed today, are something of a big deal for the German manufacturer—even if they never see the U.S.
For the first time, Audi is dropping a three-cylinder engine into its lineup, and not just one: A 1.0-liter gasoline model that produces 95 hp will join a 90-hp, 1.4-liter diesel as the two smallest engines on offer, paired with 7-speed automatic transmissions. The move is timely, as Mini installed a three-cylinder as the base engine in the Cooper, and as Ford makes strides with three-bangers in the Fiesta and Focus around the world.
Three other gasoline engines and one other diesel will join the three-cylinders. Once again, the hot, 231-hp S1 and S1 Sportback will remain the most powerful of the lineup. Audi estimates that the S1 can sprint to 60 mph in under 6 seconds, thanks to Quattro all-wheel drive, which would make it nearly as fast as the larger Ford Fiesta ST.
Other manufacturer claims include a more responsive suspension and a revised steering setup, plus a simplified and improved MMI infotainment system. (We would be happy to verify them.)
Although the revised A1's styling remains unfamiliar to Americans, it's sharper but just as recognizable as the model it replaces. Given the quality of the small A3 lineup, we'd love to see even smaller Audis hit the United States, even if it's not in the cards right now.