Audi A1 Road Trip | Update 1: Fuel Consumption

28 December 2019 - 14:06 By Thomas Falkiner
The 2019 Audi A1 35 TFSI takes a breather on the R61.
The 2019 Audi A1 35 TFSI takes a breather on the R61.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

The last two years saw me take to December roads in my trusty old Daihatsu Materia Turbo: a capable little MPV, let down somewhat on long trips by its small fuel tank and ridiculously short gearing (try +-4,300rpm at 130km/h in fifth). Complemented by brick-like aerodynamics you made damn sure that you filled up at every town or hamlet you encountered on the N1. This year, however, the good folk at Audi South Africa agreed to loan me an A1 Sportback 35 TFSI — the middle of the range model in the new A1 line-up.

Under the bonnet resides a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo motor that huffs out 110kW and a useful 250Nm worth of torque. Transfer to terra firma is via a seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. Performance is not life-affirming but in an A1 (a car centered more around image and technology rather than unbridled driving nirvana) it’s pretty much all you need — I certainly wouldn’t cough-up extra for the 2.0-litre lump in the 40 TFSI.

35 TFSI seems to sit in the sweet-spot of the current A1 range.
35 TFSI seems to sit in the sweet-spot of the current A1 range.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Still, there’s enough grunt on tap to overtake a train of slow moving trucks without having to worry about a head-on collision as well as enough top-end urge to help claw you over the 200km/h mark. What more do you really want in a small boutique hatchback?

Well in my case it was fuel consumption. I may get a free car for the holidays but I still have to swipe my card every time I visit the pumps. So the object of the game here was to see how little petrol I could use on my drive from Johannesburg down to Montagu via Graaff-Reinet. Having done this route in a car with a similar power plant (Honda Civic 1.5T) three years prior I was expecting the A1 35 TFSI to average out at around 5.7l/100km.

So I was amazed to see the on-board computer registering 4.8l/100km at the end of the first day when I arrived at the Camdeboo Cottages B&B in Graaff-Reinet. Sure, I was driving slowly — averaging just under 100km/h — but when you’re cruising down the N9 highway surrounded by such beautifully bleak desert landscapes, well, who wants to rush?

Final trip figures aren't to be sneezed at.
Final trip figures aren't to be sneezed at.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

The second day — a 550km (give or take) trek down to Montagu — saw blazingly hot temperatures (up to 39 degrees) and severe headwinds eat into the Audi’s overall efficiency. As much as I tried I just couldn’t get the consumption bar to drop below the 6l/100km mark. Also, I did take advantage of the predictably deserted R318 — a rural back road that scythes off the N1 to Montagu — to test the spec sheet’s top speed claims without worry of oncoming traffic and pesky cameras.

While this was fun it didn’t do my hypermiling cause any favours. Be this as it may the end results remained impressive. Upon reaching my destination the Audi had travelled 1,386.1km, burnt 80.91 litres of fuel at a cost of R1,309.77 and averaged exactly 5.3l/100km. Figures that so far make the 35 TFSI one of the most efficient cars I’ve driven all year.

Hot temperatures and headwinds did fuel economy no favours on day 2.
Hot temperatures and headwinds did fuel economy no favours on day 2.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

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