The idea of stuffing a giant engine into the most inappropriate of spaces has been floating around for ages, with the Audi A1 Quattro this idea has been taken to something of an extreme.
The Audi A1 is a lovely little car. It’s small, unassuming, popular, well made and really good to drive. Its build quality is up there with Audi standards, as are its engines. Like the cars it shares its platform with (the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia & VW Polo, in case you didn’t know) it’s perfect for the hustle and bustle of the city.
However, unlike its VW Group stablemates, it doesn’t have a properly ‘hot’ variant. Yes, the 1.4TSI has the same engine as the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, VW Polo GTI and Skoda Fabia vRS, but it’s just another car in the line up. There’s no S1 lurking in the wings.
This is where the A1 Quattro comes in to play. Its tiny engine bay has been stuffed with the 2.0-litre turbo motor from the last generation Audi S3. Its 252bhp makes it, unsurprisingly, rather sprightly. It’ll see off the 0-62mph dash in 5.7seconds and hit 152mph. But that’s not all there is to the A1, oh no.
It’s the only A1 with Audi’s Quattro four wheel drive system, which means it’s incredibly grippy… to a point. Its short wheelbase and immense power make it a touch twitchy and its limit, once met, can become a distant, spinny memory.
There’s plenty of trick and rally-inspired engineering in there too. Carbon fibre this, rally-bred that litter its tiny cabin and make people interested in engineering go all weak at the wrists.
For me, the A1 Quattro’s strength lies in its look — big air dams, massive spoiler, ‘Quattro’ badges dotted around the place, white wheels, giant exhausts and red details in the right places. It just looks… right. Like a little homolgated rally car for real people. Sort of.
I say sort of because only 333 will ever be made. They’re all left hand drive and they’ve all been sold. Oh, and if you could get your mitts on one it’d set you back over £40,000.
What Audi has created is a little chunk of fun; a little piece of loveliness that only ever happens once in a blue moon. For that we should be eternally grateful, not least because it proves that someone at Audi has a sense of humour.
Audi A1 Quattro
Engine: 2.0-litre four cyl turbo petrol
Torque: 258lb ft
Top speed: 152mph