New 2018 Audi A1 spied winter testing ahead of launch

The Audi A1 is due for a refresh this year, and we’ve spied the car conducting winter development testing for the first time.

Audi’s 2018 second-generation A1 hatchback has been snapped by our spy photographers, who have given us a glimpse of how the new model will look. Extra style is on the agenda for the new Audi A1, as well as a classier interior and more tech.

With plusher versions of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta on the market, the new A1 will need to be even more upmarket to keep its kudos as one of the classiest superminis. There’s also the 2018 MINI Cooper to contend with, and the next generation DS 3 is due soon as well.

Though you can’t tell just from the pictures, the Mk2 A1 will move on to the smallest version of the VW Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform, called A0. The switch in architecture also means that production of the A1 will transfer from Brussels in Belgium to SEAT’s Martorell plant in Barcelona, where the car will be built alongside the Ibiza and Arona.

The new platform will bring many benefits – the first being the ability to make the A1 larger than the current model. Auto Express understands that after intense debate inside the VW Group about the number of wheelbases spun off any single version of MQB, the company’s top brass have ordered a single length of around 2,560mm across all of the forthcoming small cars from Audi, VW, SEAT and Skoda.

That’s a gain of around 90mm over the existing A1, and while the body is likely to grow by a tiny fraction of that, the extended wheelbase should bring benefits for rear passengers. Boot capacity will also rise slightly, potentially from the current car’s 270 litres to around 300 litres.

Our exclusive images of the new Audi A1 show how the car will look without the disguise, too. The spy shots show the larger grille and sportier-looking headlights, as well as big alloy wheels and sharper-looking taillights too.

2018 Audi A1 engine range
A new platform brings new engines, and the A1 range is likely to kick off with a re-engineered version of the current 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo, developing around 100bhp. With the new Polo and upcoming A1 sharing lots of mechanical DNA, Audi may also choose to offer the A1 with the VW Group’s new 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines – although the latter units are likely to appear first in the next A3.

When the A1 does get the new 1.5-litre engines, their range of outputs – from 90bhp to 160bhp – should give Audi enough options for the entire line-up, with the exception of the S1 hot hatch.

There is also the possibility of Audi introducing a plug-in hybrid e-tron version of the A1. Back in 2012 it developed a concept featuring a three-cylinder turbo and electric motor. The technology is expensive, though, and if introduced it will push the A1’s price into new territory – possibly upwards of £25,000. However, it would give Audi a competitor for the BMW i3 – a car it can’t currently rival.

New Audi A1 interior and exterior design
Of course, a new model wouldn’t be complete without a new look. Our images give an idea of how the second-generation A1 will develop, with evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes. Expect sharper headlamps with a unique daytime running light signature either side of the latest company grille, which follows the rule of being hexagonal on hatchbacks and saloons, rather than octagonal as on Audi’s SUVs.

At the rear, wider tail-lights are likely to be inspired by the recently refreshed A3, with an integrated roof spoiler to aid aerodynamic efficiency and give the A1 a sportier look. Audi’s ‘scrolling indicators’ are set to be offered as an option across the range.

What is likely to be more intriguing to buyers is the raft of new tech inside. Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit will make an appearance for the first time, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will also be introduced on an updated version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system. The firm may roll out a WiFi hotspot as well as it aims to rival the connectivity offered by the A1’s main rival, the MINI.

Is an Audi RS 1 possible?

The existing car will soldier on with only minor tweaks before the next model is introduced, but it could get a sign-off flagship. Audi has fenced off the RS 1 badge, and while senior company insiders deny any plans for such a vehicle, it’s possible that the company could issue a limited-edition, extreme hot hatchback version of the A1 as part of the tail end of its current production run in early 2018.

 

 

 

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