We’ve not had enough time to upturn every stone in the crankandpiston archives. But given the string of automotive talent that’s swept through our garage doors over the years we’re pretty confident one or two time-honoured motoring clichés have slipped through the net in some of our features: ‘handles like it’s on rails’, ‘alert and peppy’, ‘acceleration pins you to the seat’, etc, etc.
Truth be told, it’s incredibly tempting to run wild with the aforementioned pile when talking about the 185hp Audi A1 S Line, since all of them are appropriate if slightly flowery descriptions. When talking about this particular hatchback though, I’d like to throw another oft-used phrase into the ring: ‘…like a go-kart’.
Now I’ll admit that, upon closer inspection, the similarities between the 185hp A1 – yep, we’ve skipped the 122hp little brother and leapt straight in at the larier deep end – and the four-wheeled first rung of a potential Formula One career hardly seem to pass muster. Whereas in the kart you sit just a few inches from the ground in a seat so unyielding that various parts of your anatomy will quickly fall asleep, the A1’s fully adjustable pseudo-bucket seats make finding the right driving position a doddle. You’d also very rarely need a helmet in the A1, and while the luxury of multiple-hundreds of kilometres of blue sky directly above your head is always a joy to behold, a decent amount of headroom in the Audi is a decent compromise.
Squint and really start to concentrate though and the cobwebs may get blown aside. Take the styling of each vehicle, for instance. With the kart we have a stripped out, lightweight machine whose primary focus is performance. Then there’s the A1. True, there’s four seats (once you’ve maneuvered your way around one of two doors and a leatherette-bound seat back), a solid surround sound and infotainment system, good quality instrument panels, air-conditioning, and satnav as an optional extra.
But on the outside we find 17” two-tone aluminium wheels, (cliché spoiler alert) a love it-or-hate it sliced roof line, and aggressively styled body contours. Aesthetically at least, what we appear to have on the outside is a supermini focused on…performance. Interesting…
Jump behind the wheel and the similarities keep coming. There’s solid weight to the steering – surprisingly solid, in fact – and ample feel for the road through the front Pirellis, which makes a big difference when hurling this $34,000 machine into a series of lefts and rights. Yes, good headroom and a tall(ish) cabin means the resultant possibly-too-high centre of gravity can worry the front wheels when turn-in speed is a little ambitious. Rarely though will this register as anything more than passing anxiety.