Audi UK has confirmed that the four-wheel-drive Audi A1 quattro will come to the UK, albeit in very limited numbers. The Ingolstadt manufacturer is poised to take the supermini class by storm with the limited-production, 252bhp A1 quattro, which was first revealed in late 2011.
Although Audi has no plans to produce the A1 quattro in right-hand drive, interest in the car (and quattro products in general) means that Audi UK will get 20 examples out of the limited run of just 333. The cars will remain in left-hand-drive due to the economies of scale involved in tooling up to produce such a small number of right-hand-drive machines.
Audi UK hasn’t determined a UK price for the A1 quattro, but a spokesman confirmed that the company has received several deposits already and expects all 20 to be sold well in advance of the car’s launch in late 2012. The price will significantly eclipse the £20,710 S-tronic-equipped 1.4 TFSI that currently tops the A1 range.
The hardcore A1 not only aims to land a knockout blow on the likes of the Renault Clio Cup and Ford Fiesta ST, but it will also eclipse hot hatches such as the Renault Mégane 250 and Ford Focus ST. It will even have the straight-line performance to match Audi’s own S3.
The go-faster three-door hatch harks back to Audi’s rallying heyday of the 1980s. It gets aggressive styling, a powerful turbocharged engine and the latest in four-wheel drive technology. There’s also a heavily reworked interior to back up its impressive mechanical prowess.
Power comes from the same turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine used in the S3. Shoehorned transversely into the engine bay, it produces 252bhp at 6000rpm and 258lb ft from 2500-4500rpm.
The heady reserves are channelled through a six-speed manual gearbox and a Haldex-style four-wheel drive system that Audi has engineered for the A1’s PQ25 platform.
Audi has yet to divulge a weight figure but claims the A1 quattro matches the S3 in the 0-62mph sprint with a time of 5.7sec and can reach a top speed of 152mph, making it some 1.2sec and 11mph faster than the front-wheel-drive A1 1.4 TFSI. Combined economy is provisionally rated at 33.2mpg.
Underpinning the A1 quattro is reworked and lowered MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, along with wider tracks. Audi describes it as being “significantly firmer” than the existing A1, and says the inclusion of the four-wheel drive hardware also improves the front/rear weight distribution.
Audi has reprogrammed the ESP stability control system to allow it to be switched off completely. Another addition is an electronically controlled differential lock that automatically applies brake pressure to spinning wheels to improve traction.
Styling changes over the standard A1 give the quattro a competition car-like appearance. Up front, there’s a deep new bumper housing enlarged air ducts and a large black-framed grille. Flared sills help give the car a wider stance, while 18-inch centre-lock white-painted wheels shod with 225/35 tyres sit at each corner.
But it is at the rear where the most significant changes have taken place. Among them is a prominent spoiler to provide added downforce at high speeds for greater stability and a deeper rear bumper with a prominent valance panel and twin chromed exhausts.
Inside, there is an upgraded interior with heavily bolstered sports seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel and new door trims, all decked out in black leather with red stitching. Also included are new instruments and aluminium pedals.