The A1 1.4 TFSI CoD features a modern turbocharged petrol engine that features a cylinder cut-off system which means that when cruising, it’ll run on two rather than four cylinders. The result? Economy of 60.1mpg, yet it has the ability to nip to 60mph in less than eight seconds.
We’ve seen this cylinder deactivation system on some of the bigger Audi models such as the S8, but didn’t expect it to appear quite so quickly on an A1. This engine is powered by a 140PS version of Audi’s 1.4-litre TFSI powerplant but features a clever piece of engineering on the camshaft.
Basically, the second and third cylinders of this four-pot engine are shifted to a cam profile which doesn’t activate the valves under low and intermediate loads and when coasting. This can occur at any point between 1400-4000rpm. Give the throttle or brake a good prod and it reverts to firing on four.
It’s actually devilishly hard to detect when it’s operating because you’re normally just tickling along. The central display screen can give you the nod or, if you’ve got a good ear, you can hear a slight change in engine timbre.
It’s certainly quick enough, managing 62mph from rest in 7.9 seconds, which used to be the preserve of a respectable hot hatch.
Aside from the smart engine tech, the A1 1.4 TFSI CoD feels remarkably conventional. The Volkswagen Polo-derived underpinnings work well enough, and weight distribution is remarkably evenly spread, front-to-rear.
Combined with short overhangs and the latest generation ESP with electronic axle differential, this makes for safe and predictable handling. You can drive it really hard and revel in its faithful responses, knowing that it’s on your side. Some sports hatches might offer a little more in feedback, but it would take a very well driven hot hatch to put distance between it and a well-driven A1 1.4 TFSI on a twisty road.
The Audi A1 is a neat and appealing package. Team it with the quite brilliant 1.4 TFSI CoD petrol powerplant and it merits a five-star verdict.
This is technology as it should be used, to bring real and appreciable benefits to drivers while demanding very little in return.
With this car, you get 140PS when you need it and a car that reverts to two cylinders when you’re merely noodling along. It’s an engineering solution that’s good enough for the likes of Bentley, who use an Audi-derived V8 engine in the latest Continental GT which feature exactly this cylinder deactivation system.
Downsizing isn’t always an easy thing to do. Fortunately, this hi-tech A1 offers a viable solution. It’s practical, stylish and safe. With this 1.4 TFSI CoD engine, it’s also both quick and economical. Audi couldn’t have done much more.