Audi have gone and done it again. Last year they raised the bar on hot hatch performance when they released the 335bhp Audi RS3, taking the power level for a standard production hot hatch well above the 300bhp mark. OK, so Ford countered with the limited run Focus RS500 with 345bhp but that’s been and gone – the RS3 is still on sale.
Now Audi are repeating the same trick with their A1 supermini. They’ve shoehorned a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine into under the bonnet and by doing so have given the diminutive A1 a mighty 252bhp and 258lb/ft of torque. 62mph arrives in 5.7 seconds and its top speed is 152mph, so that’s the supermini competition well and truly blown away.
That 252bhp is delivered via a six-speed manual transmission to the all-wheel drive system, which is where this A1 gets its full name – the Audi A1 Quattro. In normal driving conditions power is delivered to the front wheels, but as they start to slip the clever mechanicals let torque divert to the rear axle within a few milliseconds. On top of that there’s an electronic diff-lock to improve traction further and the standard ESP has been tuned to allow for a bit of slip or even switched off completely, if you’re brave enough.
The A1 is available in any colour you like as long as that is Glacier White. It comes with a set of distinctive 18-inch alloys, gloss black roof, roof-mounted spoiler and a pair of large exhausts poking out from underneath the black diffuser. Should you miss the distinctive black and white paint job, the scattering of Quattro badges should give you enough of a clue that this is The Daddy of the A1 range.
The interior is up to Audi’s usual standards, with Silk Nappa leather trim on the doors and seats highlighted with red stitching. The gear knob is made of aluminium and the footrest and pedal caps are made of stainless steel.
The A1 Quattro isn’t just a performance showpiece, it’s also kitted out with the best options from the A1 range including the clever mobile phone system that uses Bluetooth to allow the A1 to connect to the Internet and even act as a mobile wi-fi hotspot.
Sadly the A1 Quattro is a very limited run of just 333 examples for the entire global market, with deliveries scheduled for the second half of 2012. How many are coming to the UK? Well, the bad news is that they’re all left-hand drive so the chances are we won’t see any. Unless Audi can be convinced that there’s enough demand … so start picketing your local Audi dealer now.