Do We Really Want Audi To Think This Small In America? Perhaps…
It is perhaps with all the speed of a mighty iceberg, but increasingly, more and more North American buyers appear willing to think smaller when pondering their next auto purchase. The other shoe, which still has largely yet to drop, is for automakers to convince consumers of the merits of a luxury subcompact, paying a price premium for a longer list of creature comforts, options and badge appeal. However small, this trend in the States is best represented by BMW and its Mini range, followed (with a few stumbles out of the gate) by the Fiat 500.
In Europe, however, there is already a well-defined tradition of premium minicars on which buyers happily lavish extra dollars, and there is no model quite so indulgent for the masses as the Audi A1. Through its first complete year of sales in 2011, the Bavarians built at their factory in Brussels, Belgium – and sold – nearly 120,000 A1 three-doors.
Now we’ve finally gotten the chance to drive an Audi A1 Sportback with five doors, a model first shown publicly at last October’s Tokyo Motor Show. The five-door model carries on with the basic A1 recipe of offering big things in small packages, and rather unusually, we think the model with more doors might actually look better this time. That may not seem altogether based on reason at first glance, since both the three- and five-door A1 designs have a length of 155.7 inches and a wheelbase of 97.2 inches. (Only the Fiat 500, Jeep Wrangler, Scion iQ, Smart ForTwo and various two-door Mini models take up less parking space.)