The main star of the vast Audi stand is its smallest model – the new A1. Ingolstadt has big plans for this Mini Cooper rival that’s bound to be its main seller, and is calling it the A1 “the sportiest car in the segment” – no small claim when BMW’s Mini is your classmate! Backing this up is the A1’s low weight of 1,045 kg, wide tracks, low weight resting on the front end and electrohydraulic steering that’s tuned to be “sportily direct”.

First shown to the world as the Metroproject Quattro Concept back in Tokyo 2007, the finshed product looks remarkably similar to its inspiration, down to this car’s red colour with a silver bar outlining the glasshouse. As we’d expect from a new Audi, the A1 features striking LED daytime running lights, and the brand’s single-frame grille is has two more edges at their top ends to create a trapezoidal shape. Audi’s “tornado line” joins both front and rear lamp clusters and is a main feature of the profile, along with the arching roofline. Coefficient of drag is 0.32, which is best in class.

Inside, the dash design is simple and classy; of note are the cool old-school air-con vents (supposed to look like jet turbines, says Audi) and an infotainment system that’s claimed to set new standards in the class. The A1’s MMI navigation plus system is taken from its bigger siblings and comes with 3D navigation system, 20GB of hard disk space for music and iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, all displyed on a 6.5-inch screen that emerges from the dash top. A 465-watt Bose stereo is optional.

Four engines will be available at launch – two TFSI petrols and two TDI diesels. The entry 1.2 TFSI makes 86 bhp and 160 Nm from 1500 rpm, while the 1.4 TFSI produces 122 bhp and 200 Nm at the same engine speed sustained till 4000 rpm. Paired to the seven-speed dual clutch S tronic gearbox, this range topper does 0-100 km/h in 9.1 seconds on to a top speed of 200 km/h. We reckon that real world cut and thrust performance will be more impressive than the raw figures suggest, as is the case with VW’s TSI/DSG cars. Equipped with start-stop tech and brake energy recuperation, fuel consumption for the 1.4 TFSI is 19.6 km/l.

Live pictures and official gallery with 125 images after the jump.

Audi A1 live images from Geneva
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Audi A1 official images
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