By on July 29, 2019

Padding out its crossover lineup and going downmarket, like every other premium automaker, Audi presented us with a new model this week — the A1 Citycarver. Based upon the A1 Sportback, the Citycarver is lifted two-inches to provide additional clearance for potholes, urban debris, and the occasional instance of curb hopping. The ride hight also helps the brand’s A1 line take advantage of the severe case of crossover crazies that has swept through the global market.

Good on Audi for downplaying the adventure/lifestyle marketing and calling the Citycarver what it is — a small urban runabout with the ability to leave town. Bonus points for allowing it to maintain its foundation’s above-average looks. 

That said, the marketing team couldn’t help itself entirely. The vehicle’s release is still tinged with mentions of the exterior’s “robust, off-road look,” despite it being nearly identical to the Sportback. But Audi knows it’s marketing to young, urban types and went so far as to put that in the headline of its press release.

And the city will be where this car shines the brightest. At just a hair under 160 inches in length, the higher-riding A1 is a smidgen shorter than the Ford Fiesta. One of its greatest selling points will obviously be saving people the trouble of having to circle the block for the tenth time, as they hunt for an appropriately sized parking space inside the overly congested hellscape they call home.

Noteworthy changes from the more-traditional A1 models include larger wheels (both optional and standard), visual tweaks to make it look more like Audi’s Q vehicles, an S line roof edge spoiler, and an optional dynamic suspension package (which adds a dynamic handling system, upgraded audio gear, adjustable dampers, and chucks on red calipers for style). The rest of Audi’s ink was spent discussing the merits of the 10.1-inch infotainment system — namely its ability to tell you where to find parking.

Powertrain details were a no-show. But, since it’s basically an A1 Sportback, one might expect it to come equipped with the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged three-cylinder motor and front-wheel drive. While that 40 TFSI is likely too small for most American tastes, it does produce a very adequate 200 hp. The only other possible candidate for export would be the 1.5-liter 35 TFSI. The rest of the A1’s engine options are best left in Europe due to their size… or lack thereof.

Unfortunately, they all might stay there, as Audi has only mentioned availability in its home market (starting this fall). However, if the company did decide to export a small vehicle to North America, this would definitely be the one. While this author would rather have the standard A1 Sportback, crossovers remain ludicrously popular here and this isn’t a bad-looking compromise. The U.S. might swing toward larger automobiles than Europe but we could see the Citycarver making a name for itself along more North America’s more populated coastal regions.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Images: Audi]

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28 Comments on “Importable or Impotable? Audi Debuts A1 Citycarver for Slick Urban Youths...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This would end up costing upwards of thirty large for something with a three-banger, so no – keep it in Europe. The smallest Audi CUV should be the Q3.

    But VW is wondering what it SHOULD offer in the dinky-crossover class, that’s a no-brainer – they should import the T-Roc…like, yesterday. That one would sell.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Citycarver? Is that the name of some new artisan meat sandwich marketed to the same demographic.

    VW might as well bring us the T-roc instead since it would be a better fit since Audi is a more upscale brand.

  • avatar

    Chintzy color-match interior plastic and a Kia-like front end don’t work for me. Keep it there.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    It’s a shame to see Audi going from the sharp, clean, bauhaus designs of the early ’00s to this…noise. Looks like a kia from any angle and its grouchy face makes it laughable.

  • avatar
    gasser

    From the front view, I thought it was a Hyundai Kona. I guess I was wrong by at least $10K.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Audi has secret sauce Mojo, with a few notable exceptions, in almost every vehicle category that they play in. The nearly across the board consistency in this regard is so during quite rare.

    From exterior design (just Goldilocks right; never too much, never too little, whether plain or performance model), to interior design, to quality of materials and feel of switchgear, to treatment at the dealership by sales and service staff, they are just very consistently good-to-excellent.

    This vehicle is a home run in these same attributes; there is a just right balance in the exterior and interior design, and what looks like to be high quality materials and switchgear, and very good assembly AND PAINT quality.

    What makes this all the more remarkable is that Audi distinguishes itself in this manner while the bones of their vehicles are the same as VWs and the hearts in their vehicles are massaged VW engines (then again, Audi/VW has a proficiency in doing FI well, and Audi also has a bespoke V10, as well as more bespoke engines, including some other special 6, 8, 10 and 12 cylinder engines as found in cousins Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini).

    I say all of this as someone who has been burned a few times by VW and once by Audi, in terms of suffering through both design/manufacturing defects (coil pack fiasco, excessive carbon valve build up, the typical regulator, solenoid and electrical gremlins that have historically been more than annoyances, and to which VAG’s response was always exactly exemplary at the dealership or HQ level).

    Audi just has this “just right” thing in terms of balance.

  • avatar
    Robotdawn

    Oh, I’d short-list this if it made it to the US. But I have to admit I like the new Kia Niro/Hyundai Kona hatchbacks cloaked as CUVs. I have a hatch now, and I’d give a MPG or 2 to gain a couple inches in ride height/upright seating position. I’m not getting any younger.
    Given it is an Audi I imagine I might balk at the price, but give it the right engine/value proposition and I’d buy one.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The black paint below the doors gives it another 5 inches of “visual ground clearance”. Mind over matter.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I bet this will be a good $5-10K more then anything in it’s class that’s already being sold in North America, so unless it has exceptional road manners or quality it’s hard to make a case for it

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      I agree. Despite DW’s claims above, I’ve always found Audis to be not quite premium, and could never justify the price they charge for the paltry baubles they throw in with the name.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    One question. Why do auto makers think we like large waffle irons stuck on the rear of a car, as if they are faux air ducts for when millennials decide it would be fun to reverse at 60 MPH and then require maximum faux BRAKE cooling for the upcoming hairpin corner???

    Or was this something Honda got out of a focus group filled with drug induced kiddies, and then everyone figured HEY! if Honda thinks severe body creases, non classy bodywork (a.k.a. edgy – OMG wow….”like_like say that 5 times and you are in”) and waffle irons are the IN things, then we must copy them or our sales will be doomed!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Maybe too much saké! I can’t remember who “won” the Civic design competition — the Japanese group, or the North American group. (IIRC, the Accord design originated here, while the Asian/Russian design was to be an evolutionary design of the previous generation on the new shared Civic platform; since the Accord is no longer sold in the JDM.)

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    If someone had shown me this thirty years ago and said it was to be the Kia Pride(Ford Festiva/Mazda 121) of the year 2020, I’d have been disappointed.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    Who cares what young people think or want? They’re of no consequence until they grow up and should be neither seen nor heard until then. Trust no one under the age of 50.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Who writes this stuff? Oh, it’s Mr Posky opining again:

    ” one might expect it to come equipped with the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged three-cylinder motor and front-wheel drive.”

    I’d like to see that engine, a four cylinder turbocharged three cylinder.

    The author doesn’t check his work, the commenters don’t read it, merely skim at best, and have opinions anyway.

    The thing looks like a Nissan Kicks. But it’s really just a slightly restyled VW T-Roc. Like a Cadillac SUV made on Chevy bones.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      We all know, despite marketing claims to the contrary, that Audis are basically upscale VWs. Perhaps the automotive press has heard the Audi wonks deny it enough times they actually believe it now, but I don’t.
      That’s fine. That’s what Infiniti, Acura, half of Lexus, most luxury SUVs and all the Chinese owned luxury makes are too. In fact, BMW/Mercedes piggy back off their mainstream makes in Europe for their luxury makes here.
      These aren’t Cadillac Cimmarons. They may be ‘badge engineered’ but today’s engineers can work wonders with a Corolla base to make a real Lexus out of it.

  • avatar

    Is it Audi imitating Hyundai or Hyundai imitating Audi? I am utterly confused, I do not want to be seen in a Hyundai but this then eliminates for me Audi which I otherwise like very much.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I reflected on this some more, and actually do not like it; it’s the least Audi-issue Audi, inside and out, with more of a Toyota/His vibe in terms of seat cloth material,door pulls, center stack, guages, etc.

    It looks just okay from the side profile. There’s too much going on elsewhere, and very un-Audi like geometric shapes, creases, and plastic garbage in terms of the exterior rear and front aesthetic.

    Also, I wrote something above about VW/Audi dealerships and the mother ship dealing with some of my prior issues with their vehicles that needs correction (can’t edit comment now). It should have read:

    ” say all of this as someone who has been burned a few times by VW and once by Audi, in terms of suffering through both design/manufacturing defects (coil pack fiasco, excessive carbon valve build up, the typical regulator, solenoid and electrical gremlins that have historically been more than annoyances, and to which VAG’s response was *NOT* always exactly exemplary at the dealership or HQ level).

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Edit function sucks on this site.

    Above 2nd line should read:

    “…with more of a Toyota/*Kia vibe in terms of seat cloth material,door pulls, center stack, guages, etc.”

  • avatar
    Garrett

    This is pretty close to the automotive equivalent of a good hooligan bike.

  • avatar
    darex

    If they didn’t bring the Q2 over, which is baffling and stupid, I don’t see them ever bringing this over.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    3/8 Rav4 up front with the “aggressive” something something and a VW UP! at the back. I dare say this is an Audi non-SUV that I’m not a fan of; not that I’d choose to try and afford one anyway.

    Where are these youths being targeted supposed to get the money to plunk down? Selling hookers and blow?

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