Audi A1 Road Trip | Update 4: Which extras are worth it?

23 January 2020 - 16:08 By Thomas Falkiner
The Audi A1 35 TFSI lurks above Cape Town
The Audi A1 35 TFSI lurks above Cape Town
Image: Thomas Falkiner

So the holidays are over and the Audi A1 35 TFSI has left me (my full road trip story will appear in the Sunday Times shortly). Mine for just over a month, it proved to be a fine travelling companion: one that offered both decent power and excellent fuel consumption. Comfort levels proved exemplary — gone are the days when you needed a large luxobarge to arrive at your destination feeling fresh — as were the interior amenities.

From that fabulous touchscreen Audi MMI infotainment system to the frame-hugging sports sears and endlessly customisable cabin mood lighting, the features on hand made the 35 TFSI an absolute pleasure to spend them holiday hours in. But ... and this is quite a sizeable one ... how many of them were standard and how many of them were add-ons?

Well after perusing the spec sheet I have to report that many of the niceties adorning my test car were expensive options, the sum of which pushed its base price tag up by R136,215. That’s a lot of extra dough. Fortunately you don’t need all of them, so here’s a pretty concise list of the things I would keep and others I could happily live without.

1: Metallic paint: R2,500:

The Misano Red Pearlescent paint on my A1 35 TFSI was pretty cool but, honestly, I would just get mine licked in under-the-radar, no-charge Cortina White.

Verdict: Skip

For slightly better ride comfort the author would swap the 18-inch Audi Sport cast alloy wheels for the smaller 17-inch versions.
For slightly better ride comfort the author would swap the 18-inch Audi Sport cast alloy wheels for the smaller 17-inch versions.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

2: 18-inch Audi Sport cast alloy wheels: R15,600:

These wheels look the business and really give the A3 more visual presence. Unfortunately they do the already stiff ride no favours and would be a pain in the ass living in a potholed city such as Johannesburg. So, as a happy compromise, I’d option the slightly smaller 17-inch Audi Sport cast alloy wheels that offer the same smart Matte Titanium finish.

Verdict: Skip but substitute for 17-inch alternative

3: Audi Phone Box: R5,500:

Phone Box gives you inductive charging via a pad located on the centre console and better mobile phone reception via the roof antenna. Maybe you need this but I certainly do not.

Verdict: Skip

Black styling package spruces up the nose with matte and gloss black plastic accents.
Black styling package spruces up the nose with matte and gloss black plastic accents.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

4: Black Styling Package: R6,900:

Ticking this option gives you a mixture of matte and gloss black plastics around the radiator grille, grille frame, front air inlet frame, rear diffuser and front spoiler. It adds a little extra menace to the A1. As such it can stay.

Verdict: Spec

5: Comfort package: R10, 300

This gives you dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control and a storage package that (from what I can tell) adds a cargo net in the boot to keep your luggage from rolling around through corners. I seldom use cruise control and I live without dual-zone climate control.

Verdict: Skip

6: Ambient lighting package: R2,300

This may be a gimmick but I enjoyed the ambient lighting inside the A1. Especially when set to a shade of 'Tron Blue' or 'Vapourware Purple.' Gives you an excuse to drive at night.

Verdict: Spec

Slate grey decorative dashboard inserts add some texture to the cabin.
Slate grey decorative dashboard inserts add some texture to the cabin.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

7: Slate grey decorative inserts with polygon structure: R1,200

I’m all for a little extra colour and texture inside German cars. So these dashboard inserts are staying.

Verdict: Spec

8: Headlamp washer system: R4,200

Nice if you live in a country where it snows, kind of pointless if you don’t.

Verdict: Skip

9: MMI Navigation Plus with Audi Connect: R24,500

Thanks to Waze integration in Apple CarPlay (available by speccing the optional Technology package — see below), I didn’t use the Audi Navigation Plus system once. As such I’m inclined to leave it off the list and save a useful chunk of change.

Verdict: Skip

Rear view camera system is a must if you live in a congested city such as Cape Town.
Rear view camera system is a must if you live in a congested city such as Cape Town.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

10: Rear view camera system: R5,700

I’m getting old, I’m getting lazy and my neck doesn’t twist like it once did. So this feature is getting the thumbs-up from me. Also it makes parallel parking in busy city centres (like Cape Town CBD) a breeze.

Verdict: Spec

11: Roof dome in contrasting colour: R10,600

Thanks to Peugeot’s antics in the mid-2000s I’ve never really been a fan of two-tone paint effects. Sure, Audi’s execution is much better but I’m quite happy to live without a contrasting roof. Also it’s not available as an option if you choose Cortina White.

Verdict: Skip

Make sure you spec the Sports package so you get those extra supportive sport seats
Make sure you spec the Sports package so you get those extra supportive sport seats
Image: Thomas Falkiner

12: Sports Package: R14,700

This is one package that should be non-negotiable. Neglect to pick it and you’ll forgo sports seats, Audi drive select and shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The Sports package also throws in black headlining and aluminium inserts around the cabin. No brainer in my opinion.

Verdict: Spec

Speccing the Technology package will unlock the Audi smartphone interface that gives you access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Speccing the Technology package will unlock the Audi smartphone interface that gives you access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Image: Thomas Falkiner

13: Technology package: R9,900

Again, another option that any A1 owner should definitely choose to add to his or her car. It gives you Audi virtual cockpit, the aforementioned smartphone interface (unlocks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) as well as a slightly more punchy Audi sound system.

Verdict: Spec

So ... go tally up my choice of options and you’ll see that they amount to a far more reasonable R56,300 — a saving of exactly R79,915. Add this to the base price of the A1 Sportback 35 TFSI Advanced S-tronic (R443,900) and it checks out at R500,200 — a lot more palatable that the R568,300 price tag that came attached to my test car.


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