Even though Audi will hold a press conference at the unveiling of the new A1 premium hatchback in Geneva next week, the Germans gave journalists the opportunity to ask a bevy of questions ahead of the car's presentation, answering the most popular ones through a voting process.
And while questions about the possible introduction of S1 and RS1 sporty variants didn't make the cut (for the record, we voted, but go figure...), a few interesting questions did.
First of all, Audi said that there are no plans to offer the A1 with the firm's all-wheel drive quattro system while the first generation of the car will be offered only as a three- and five door hatchback body styles.
Despite various reports supporting the opposite (chiefly from UK magazines), Audi made it clear that neither a Cabriolet nor a Roadster is currently being considered.
In regards of the availability of the A1 in the USA, the Ingolstadt automaker said that while there are no current plans to launch the car in the States, the company has begun a feasibility study and that there's a strong possibility that the car will find its way across the pond in a few year's time.
Another question answered was if the A1 shares a 'technical platform' with the VW Polo, with Audi claiming that its premium supermini is an "independent design" that makes "use of synergies within the Group" - that means yes in PR talk.
There was also a list of questions related to the A1's design that we did not include, but if many of you are interested, we can add them later on.
1. What engines are being offered for the A1?
Audi is launching the A1 with a choice of four 4-cylinder engines, two TDI diesels and two TFSI gasoline engines developing between 63 and 90 kW. All of these engines comply with the downsizing principle, that is to say they use forced aspiration to take the place of displacement, and have direct fuel injection. This gives the Audi A1 a highly efficient range of engines.
2. Does the A1 share a technical platform with the new VW Polo?
The A1 is a true Audi and an independent design. It is reliable, uses well-proven technical components and satisfies the highest quality standards. We naturally make use of synergies within the Group; among the results of this are financial benefits for our customers.
3. Will there be an A1 "quattro"?
Thanks to its sporty steering and dynamic suspension, the A1 has extremely agile handling and is a lot of fun to drive. ESP with an electronic cross-axle lock improves traction, makes the handling sportier and communicates the car's high level of safety, especially when cornering.
In this car category, this perfect combination of features achieves performance comparable to a car with quattro driveline. For this reason, we have no current plans to introduce an A1 quattro.
4. What will the A1 cost?
The entry-level price for the A1 will be below €16,000 (list price in Germany). This attractive price offers young target groups an opportunity to access the Audi brand.
5. Will there be an Audi A1 model family with Sportback, Cabrio or Roadster?
The first-generation A1 will be available as a three-door model and as an A1 Sportback. Neither a Cabriolet nor a Roadster is currently being considered.
6. Please describe three technical innovations or technical development priorities on the A1.
A notable feature of the A1 is its broad range of highly efficient engines that will satisfy all customers' wishes. The TDI with emissions of 99 g/CO2 and the TFSI with 119 g/ CO2 are unique in this market segment. The 1.4 TFSI with 90 kW engine can be obtained with 7-speed S tronic transmission.
This makes better use of engine torque than the A1's competitors, and gives it the lowest fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The A1 is also a leader in lighting technology: an elaborate LED concept is available for the headlights and interior lighting, and the infotainment and multimedia system of the A1 is also unrivalled in the compact car segment.
7. Will the A1 be fitted with a start-stop system?
All the engines are coupled to a start-stop system, including cars with S tronic transmission. The start-stop system, like the outstandingly good aerodynamics, helps the A1 to achieve its low fuel consumption.
8. Will there be an electrically propelled A1?
Audi is devoting a great deal of effort to mobility using electric propulsion. Its approach is an all-embracing one: every area of the car's design is examined to determine whether it is suitable for an electrically propelled vehicle.
For various technical and commercial reasons, it is still not certain when a longer production run will be built. But even the current cars already outperform their direct competitors quite clearly in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
9. Your previous attempt in the small-car segment was the A2. Did you adopt a different approach with the A1?
The new Audi A1 has a body of shortback/hatchback design, and is a charismatic city car ideally suitable for day-to-day use. The Audi A1 matches the needs of a young target group perfectly, above all because of its progressive design with ample scope for individuality, its advanced infotainment specification and of course typical Audi genes such as sophistication.
10. Which alternative drive train concepts is the car designed for?
All versions of the A1 are efficient, thanks to technologies such as the start-stop system, energy recuperation and admirable compliance with the laws of aerodynamics. Audi attached top priority to future mobility and the alternative drive train concepts associated with it.
We are concentrating initially on the A1's market launch and currently have no statement to make on whether alternative drive trains will be available for the A1 in the future, or what form they could take.
1. Which sales markets will be the most important for the A1?
We developed the Audi A1 mainly for Western Europe. So the main markets are Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy.
2. When will the A1 reach the USA?
Currently we do not plan to launch the A1 in the US. However, we recently started a study across the US to determine the future potential of this car. I am pretty sure that in a few years time we will be able to successfully launch the A1 on the US market.
3. When will the A1 be sold in China?
In China we are currently launching the A3, which is the first premium car in the compact car segment. We are ready to launch the A1 at any time and we are prepared to do so whenever we need it.
4. How are the advance orders coming in?
Officially the order bank has not yet opened. But dealers throughout Europe are reporting that the interest in this car is extremely high. So we are very confident that the A1 will be a major hit for us.
5. How high will the level of conquests be?
Yes, we did intense clinics around Europe and we can say that we expect a conquest rate of around 80 percent. That is extremely high, so it is clear that this car will attract a lot of new customers to the Audi brand.
6. Is the A1 a car for men or for women?
Obviously the answer is: for both. I am totally convinced that Audi designers and engineers have created a very emotional, very sporty car which will appeal to women and men equally.
7. Unlike the Mini, the A1 has not been introduced as an independent brand. Is that a disadvantage?
I see this as a real advantage, because the strong brand reputation of Audi will help us to introduce the A1. And it will appeal to a lot of new customers. I previously mentioned a conquest rate of around 80 percent. Obviously we expect to keep those customers within the brand and buying other models in the future.
8. You have a strong presence in the new media with the A1. What do you expect this to achieve?
I think that in talking to a new target group it was very important to us to appeal to them with the right media. Therefore we had to design a completely new strategy.
The first results are very encouraging, we have a high hit rate. Many people are downloading content and many people are looking at our content online. So I think that we are on the right path for his target group and we are quite happy with these results.
9. Will there be TV and cinema advertising for the A1 launch?
There will be an outstanding TV commercial, a very emotional one. And I can also promise you that we will have some really surprising material online within the next few weeks.
10.Is it likely that Audi will develop a model below the A1 in the product range?
It is conceivable, but currently we have no plans to do so.