Audi A1 will put you in the red

The colour of a car can do a lot for it. Pearl white, for example, has become a staple of so many manufacturers who, with a spray of paint, have added a glimmer of luxury to the look. Black and we’re talking gangster. Red and we’re thinking “fast”. Like Ferrari fast.

We’re reliably informed that the colour red is attractive to people for various reasons, including that it resonates with the idea of something, such as fruit, being ripe and ready.

Car manufacturers, however, can’t simply use “red” and in the case of Audi there is “Misano Red”, a brilliant colour that certainly gets attention. Let’s skip the eye-rolling for now because whatever you call it, on the streets and for the various looks of admiration it drew, it screamed “sexy”.

You know you’ve got a winner when you’ve got the kids’ faces pressed against the window.

It also helped that they let us have a spin in the sportback 35 TFSI advanced S tronic.

The sleeker, more refined lines of the new A1 also play a big part in drawing those appreciative looks and that refinement carries through into the cabin.

It’s a bit of a shock to the system then that this vehicle uses a soon-to-be antiquated device called a key to start it. The absence of the push-start button stands in contrast to the highly functional and stylish digital dashboard.

It does, however, have the most impressive voice recognition system.

Speak your command and the car does what you want it to do; from navigation to finding your preferred radio station.

You can also type what you want into the keyboard, but the car does not allow you to do so while driving. Texting and driving is possibly a bigger killer on our roads than drinking and driving these days, so I found this a pretty important feature.

There are, of course, all the usual bells and whistles one would expect in a modern car and the fuel consumption is a big plus point.

Its 40-litre tank should give you close on 600km.

The new iteration of the A1 is definitely ready and is no slouch when it comes to the highways or byways. But, the one big let down is that the ride quality feels somewhat basic. As in VW Polo basic. Don’t get me wrong— the ride is comfortable and it sticks to the corners, but there’s little that feels “extra” about this car.Which makes the A1 retail price of R568300 a bit of a red herring.

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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