Audi A1 Road Trip | Update 2: Ride

09 January 2020 - 16:09 By Thomas Falkiner
The A1 35 TFSI at the top of Red Hill Road, Simon's Town.
The A1 35 TFSI at the top of Red Hill Road, Simon's Town.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

Things have been quiet on my side. Mainly because, well, things have been quiet on my side. Staying in a small Karoo town such as Montagu means that you don’t really need a car for the running of daily life. You can just bicycle or walk wherever it is you want to go. Good for fitness but not great for getting to know the Audi A1 35 TFSI any better.

So I went to Cape Town for a few days: a mountainous tourist Mecca in which personal mobility is an absolute must-have if you want to squeeze the most out of it. Especially if you decide to visit Simon’s Town culinary institution, The Salty Sea Dog, for a cheeky fish and chips, which is exactly what I did on Tuesday afternoon.

A fair distance from my Gardens base camp, the drive to this sweet purveyor of deep-fried goodness took me along the Atlantic seaboard, through Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak and up over the Glencairn Expressway: a series of road surfaces ranging from pristine to lumpy – just what you need for ascertaining how well a car rides. So how does the little Audi A1 Sportback fair?

Well I’ve got to say that it feels suppler than the A1 40 TFSI S-line I had on test a few weeks back. And this is simply down to the fact that the particular model I’m driving at the moment – the 35 TFSI Advanced – does without the Dynamic Package that (among other mods) bolts in a sports suspension system for the promise of sharper handling. The latter may make sense in a country such as Germany, but here in SA where our roads are so poorly maintained, the added firmness - I feel - just makes daily commuting a pain.

Having said this, however, I do think that the standard A1 suspension set-up has been tuned a tad too firmly for local conditions: though perfectly compliant on smooth tracts of bitumen, choppier sections (like my return route on the M65 running between Red Hill and Misty Cliffs) quickly make the 35 TFSI feel flustered, nervous and uncomfortable.

You get the feeling that the A1 has been over-sprung and under-damped. Though some of this jitter and noise could also be attributed to the optional 18-inch Audi Sport cast wheels fitted to my car that come wrapped in ultra-skinny 215/40 tyres. Sure, they look fantastic and fill the wheel arches better, but I wonder if leaving on the standard 17-inch wheels (with a slightly more forgiving 215/45 profile) wouldn’t be a smarter move for long-term ownership – something for you to consider if you’re in the market for a new A1.