Audi will launch its Mini-rivalling A1 at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. Unlike the Mini, Fiat 500 and Volkswagen Beetle, though, Audi's new small car won't be a retro design – mainly, perhaps, because there isn't much of a tradition of distinctive small Audis to draw upon.
The first small modern Audi was the 50, introduced in 1974, which was all but identical to the first-generation Volkswagen Polo. It was never imported into the UK. More recently, between 1999 and 2005, Audi sold the intriguing A2, an advanced, space-efficient design making extensive use of aluminium, which was perhaps a little ahead of its time, and was more directly comparable with the original version of Mercedes' A Class than the super-minis with which the A1 will compete.
The A1, a three-door design described by Audi as an example of "concentrated Vorsprung Durch Technik", will be available with three engines – 1.2 and 1.4 litre turbocharged petrols and a 1.6 litre turbodiesel. The 1.4 litre petrol engine will be available with an S tronic (DSG) transmission. The two petrol engines emit 119g/km of CO2 in official tests, while the diesel emits just 102g/km.
UK customers will be able to order the A1 from May, with the first deliveries taking place towards the end of the year. Prices will start at about £13,000.