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Does the Audi A1 Deserve to Stick Around?

We just recently learned that the Audi A1, at least as we know it, is going to get the axe. According to Audi CEO Markus Duesmann, the brand is looking to cut back its model portfolio to make room for new bespoke EVs and the A1 is going to be among the first to go. The reason being is that its too small of a niche to make any financial sense, once Audi really pushes for electrification. However, the A1 is still a good car, so does it actually deserve to stay?

 

Let’s take a look at what the Audi A1 is and the segment in which it competes. At its core, the A1 is a sub-compact city car for well-to-do execs that need something small and easy to park, in cities like London, Paris and Rome. While there are a lot of city cars that can do that, the A1 is the most grown up, the most premium and the one with the fancy badge. That last bit might not seem like it’s important but for well-to-do executive-types, it actually is.

 

That’s what the Audi A1 is, though. What’s it actually like to drive? We can’t know first hand ourselves, as the A1 isn’t sold in the ‘States. However, judging by reviews from our European colleagues, it’s a fine little car. No one expects a supermini to be particularly fun or engaging to drive, so it’s not a problem that the A1 is neither of those things. Still, it’s a pleasant, comfortable, stylish little car with good tech and good enough space. Would someone be better off saving some money and buying a Volkswagen Polo? Probably. But the A1 does everything the Polo does, just with more style.

 

Plus, the Audi A1 is an efficient car, with great fuel economy and low emissions. So it’s the sort of gasoline car that actually makes sense to keep around once the world goes electric.

 

However, that’s all well and good on paper. In reality, the A1 is a low-volume seller in a segment without a lot of profit. So it likely doesn’t make any financial sense to keep it around. So it’s almost certainly hitting the chopping block very soon, regardless of how good of a car it actually is. And that might make many city-dwelling execs a bit unhappy, as their new daily commuting car will have to be something a bit down-market afterward.

 

Thankfully, there is a solution for both Audi and those same execs. After announcing the near-certain demise of the A1, Duesmann also expressed his interest in remaking the Audi A2, only this time with an all-electric powertrain. The original A2 was a brilliant little car that, while not very popular, was one of the most ambitious Audi had ever made at the time. Sure, it was a tiny hatchback for city living and had an engine smaller than most lawn mowers. However, it had an all-aluminum space frame chassis, just like the Audi A8, and had some of the most clever package of an Audi, even to this day.

 

If Audi can remake the A2 but make it an EV, potentially called the E2 (why not just A2 e-tron?), it would be a perfect replacement for the A1. Not only would it fill the need for a premium supermini but it would also improve on it, making it all electric.

 

So does the Audi A1 deserve to go? In a vacuum, no we don’t think it does, as it’s a good little car that fills a need, regardless of how small that need is. However, in the grand scheme of things, not only do we understand the need for it to die but we actually welcome the addition of an electric Audi A2. Hopefully Audi sells it in America.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.