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Audi's phenomenal success over the past decade will only be bolstered by the arrival of the all-new A1, a rival to the Mini.
On sale in November, the car is expected - somewhat conservatively in our estimation - to sell 18,000 units in its first full year. Available with a choice of three engines, 1.2 86hp and 1.4 122hp TFSI petrols plus a 1.6 105hp TDI diesel, the latter is expected to account for 40% of those sales, no doubt thanks to its 105g/km CO2 emissions. In the first quarter of next year, that emissions figure is expected to drop below 100g/km, which, as tax bands change, will mean the vehicle makes even more sense for company car operators. The petrol iterations, meanwhile, both fall under 120g/km.
When BusinessCar first reported on the A1 in June, we reserved judgement on the ride quality since the German test routes were "beautifully smooth". Suffice to say, on bumpy English B-roads, the Audi didn't absorb the surfaces brilliantly, but then again, it's no worse than its key rivals.
This, however, is the car's only notable weakness. The interior quality is superb and handling is good. The diesel TDI, as tested, is plenty powerful, although, unsurprisingly, the most fun option is the petrol 1.4 TFSI.Sport, the mid-range trim, will be most popular and includes 16-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and suspension, Bluetooth, multi-function leather steering wheel and air conditioning. Residual values, meanwhile, are outstanding on the Audi - somewhere between 45%-55%, and matching the already-brilliant Mini residuals of 48%.
Despite its inevitable popularity and predictions of a predominantly male ownership, Audi expects fleet volumes to account for only a quarter of sales. However, a five-door version of the A1 is set for 2012, and when this comes, it is likely to make a larger dent in the corporate world.