IT’S enough to bring out the boy racer in anyone – the outrageously dressed Audi A1 Sport TFSi.
Just take a look at that paintwork and go-faster stripes. Everyone else did, I can tell you. When I took charge of my test car in the new signature white, orange and grey, it attracted enthusiasts of all ages like bees around a honey pot.
To be fair, most of them were under 25. Two teenage motor enthusiasts I know were almost beside themselves when I turned up at the shop where they work.
Before I had even stepped out of it they were all over it and I had to do the honours with their smartphones in capturing the moment for ever when they stood proudly by its side.
This particular colour combo is the one that really sets pulses racing. With orange, black and grey on front, back and sides of the roof, plus an enormous number 1 on the front doors and smoke grey alloys to die for, this is one Audi that isn’t backward about coming forwards.
Unfortunately, it also isn’t a car that other drivers can seem to let alone.
The first time I took it out for a run, I hadn’t gone half a mile before an ageing Ford Focus decided that he just had to get past me, come hell or high water. I was doing 60mph on a major road where the national speed limit applied, but that wasn’t going to stop him as he forced himself past at around 75mph, exhaust smoking with the effort.
I sailed serenely on, not tempted to take up the challenge. The same sort of thing happened all week, so I had to rein it in with some determination.
But it is tempting to strike back. The A1 is such a delightful car to handle that it immediately rivals the MINI for sheer enjoyment.
And the A1 Sport’s performance is decent enough to give you plenty of satisfaction, even though it isn’t the fire-breathing beast it looks like.
The TFSi Sport is powered by a fairly modest 1,390cc petrol engine, but the secret lies in the whoosh of power from the turbocharging, which sees the three-door hatch to 62mph in a decently fast 8.9 seconds and on to a 126mph top speed.
The beauty of this particular A1 is that it can also return around the mid 50smpg overall, so there’s no punishing fuel penalty.
And the A1 is that it is such a fantastic travelling companion.
The boy racer image really doesn’t do it justice and gives a pretty false impression.
In fact, the A1 Sport is a highly refined, comfortable hatch with impeccable build quality and that always feel so solid and well planted on the road.
The sweet-running 1.4-litre engine emits a pleasing low moan and deep engine note that’s very endearing and all the fun is orchestrated by a whippy, wristy, fast-action sports gearbox that a joy to handle.
Convincing wheel at each corner balance and a low centre of gravity combine to give the driver complete confidence in the car which is fully justified by its fuss-free, cleanly executed cornering and sharp steering that always keep the driver fully involved in the action.
The A1’s interior is smartly executed and ergonomics are simply executed, so that everything falls neatly to hand. An oblong pop-up screen projecting most everyday information sits firmly centre dash but can fold away neatly.
Dashboard material is soft touch and tactile and the rolling wheel devices for fingertip audio are logical and intuitive on the move.
Minus marks could be given for rear legroom, which isn’t that generous, and boot space – not very deep or easy to convert to maximum space. I also couldn’t take to the plastic white and orange inner door handles and hooding for the vents. But overall, this is a right first time dream hatch. A1 in virtually every respect, in fact.
> Audi A1 Sport 1.4 TFSI, £15,670.
> Powered by turbocharged 1,390cc petrol engine developing 122PS @ 5,000rpm.
> Top speed 126mph; 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds.
> Fuel economy: urban 41.5mpg; extra urban 64.2mpg; combined 53.3mpg.
> CO2 emissions: 124 g/km.
> Brakes: Ventilated discs front; solid discs rear.