Paul Regan10 February 2010

Finally, Audi’s Mini is here

This is the A1 – the car Audi hopes will beat the Mini at its own game

Audi A1

It’s been so long it almost feels like this car has been and gone already, but Audi has finally revealed its new A1.

See more pics of Audi's Mini rival

Like Citroen with its DS3, this is Audi’s Polo/Ibiza/Fabia-based attempt to take a bite out of the small/sporty/luxury market that Mini is defending so fiercely.

And on paper, at least, it looks like a contender. It balances that Mini trick of offering a reasonable level of kit plus a load of custom options to make the car your own (reads ‘bump up the list price without you realising’).

Let’s start outside. You’ll note up front the LED daytime running lights – shaped a little like those on the A8 and R8 to give a little upmarket exclusivity. That A-to-C-pillar roof arch thing can be specified in contrasting colours and the black diffuser at the back is standard on all models.

Inside, aeroplanes are said to be an inspiration (talk about kicking Saab when its down). The dash is supposed to be vaguely wing-shaped, while the vents look like jet turbines. Whatever the marketing-chatter, it looks posh enough (if not quite quirky enough) to distract buyers from the Mini’s retro style.

There are three trim levels, entry-level, Sport and S-Line. Sports seats are standard on – you guessed it – the top two, and if you want leather you can have it.

Other interior toys to pluck from the options list will include funky trim colours, heated seats and an LED interior light kit. There’s also a version of the ‘infotainment’ system found in Audi’s big luxury saloons, which incorporates 20Gb of hard drive space for music and satellite navigation.

Engine-wise, there will be two petrols and two diesels at launch. The headliner will be the 1.4TFSi with 120bhp, capable of 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, or 9.1 with the optional flappy-paddle gearbox. Your other petrol option is the 1.2TFSi offering 85bhp, 55.4mpg and, for cheaper tax, 119g/km.

Diesels are both 1.6-litre – one tuned for 104bhp and a claimed 72.4mpg, the other 89bhp and 74.3mpg. The less powerful unit sneaks in at 99g/km CO2.

We’ll get our first chance to see the car properly at Geneva next month. Prices are expected to start at around £13,000.

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