Introducing the Audi A1’s more adventurous cousin

The Audi A1 citycarver — yep, no caps here — is living proof that automakers will go to any lengths to attach the words “crossover” or “SUV” to their models. The result is the creation of sub, sub-lines born out of sub-lines born out of main model lines. It’s confusing on a lot of levels, but that’s the nature of the beast in the auto biz these days. On the surface, the A1 citycarver looks like a more rugged version of the A1. While there is some truth to that, appearances can be deceiving, too. The A1 citycarver is slightly higher than the A1 and it also comes with suspension tweaks aimed to make it more appealing to rugged urbanites who are looking for more adventures with their A1s. Most of the bits though come directly from the A1, so it is classified as a different version of Audi’s hatchback, the A1 citycarver is just an A1 wrapped in tighter clothing. The Audi A1 citycarver goes on sale this month in Europe at a yet-to-be-determined price tag. There’s no word yet whether it makes the trek to America or not.

Exterior

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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Since the Audi A1 citycarver is based on the 2019 Audi A1 Sportback, the two models share similar dimensions, at least as far as their lengths are concerned. The A1 citycarver measures 4.04 meters (13.3 feet) in length, which is right around the same measurement as the A1 Sportback. The A1 citycarver, though, is a tad taller on account of the lifted suspension that adds 35 mm (2 inches) to the hatchover’s ride height. The citycarver is also available with larger wheels, ranging from 16-inch sets to 18-inch sets. Even that contributes a few millimeters to its height.

Visually, the A1 citycarver wears a lot of the same clothes as the A1 Sportback with a few adaptive changes thrown in for good measure.

The citycarver, for example, comes with only two slots above the front grille as opposed to three on the A1 Sportback. It’s a small change, sure, but one that’s still worth mentioning. The headlight setup is the same, but the design of the fake intakes is different. The citycarver also makes use of enough body cladding to make it look a tad more aggressive than the A1 Sportback. The stainless steel-painted underbody cladding below the front and rear bumpers are easy to spot, emphasizing the hatchover’s increased off-road capability. They’re functional, too, so the citycarver at least has that going for it.

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Plastic wheel arch extensions are also part of the citycarver’s package while the rear bumper is redesigned to look more like the Audi Q2 and Audi Q3. There are nine colors available to the citycarver. Audi doesn’t mention them, but you can surmise that most of the colors are the same ones the automaker is offering on the A1 Sportback. Mythos Black, Misano Red, Python Yellow, Glacier White, Tioman Green are some of the colors available for the A1 Sportback. Expect some, if not most of these colors to be available in the A1 citycarver, too. It’s interesting to note, though, that the A1 citycarver that you’re seeing in the photos is the A1 citycarver edition one, a special edition version of the new A1 that’s available either in Pulse Orange or Arrow Gray colors. Exclusive colors aside, the citycarver edition one - no caps again, folks - also comes with black frames on the front side air inlets, the radiator protective grille, and in the Audi rings in the Singleframe front grille.

The headlights and rear lights are also tinted and the roof and exterior mirror housings are available in contrasting colors whereas standard versions of the citycarver are also available with two contrasting roof options: Manhattan Grey Metallic and Mythos Black Metallic.

You’ll also find a decal with the edition one logo in a Matt Silver shade resting on the flanks of the A1 citycarver edition one.

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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The Audi A1 citycarver looks like a more polished version of the A1 Sportback. Part of that can be attributed to the hatchover’s off-road identity while another part of that is tied into Audi’s attempts to sell us on the citycarver’s position as a unique model within the A1 family. It’s a hard sell for some, but you can understand why Audi’s doing it. There are, after all, units to sell.

Interior

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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Most of what you know from the interior of the Audi A1 Sportback can also be found in the A1 citycarver.

The dash layout remains the same, as does the seating configuration.

For vanity’s sake, Audi is throwing in a spate of additional trim decorations for air vents, center tunnel console, and door cards. You can choose a variety of colors to spice up these sections, including Mint, Copper, Orange, or Silver Gray. Opt for the A1 citycarver S-Line trim and Audi will throw in Structured Gray as an extra color to choose from.

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Speaking of which, the aforementioned S-Line trim is one of three equipment lines that are available to the A1 citycarver.

The S-Line trim also comes with a choice to dress up the city carver’s seats in either cloth/synthetic leather or Alcantara/synthetic leather.

Contour and ambient lighting packages are also part of the trim option. That should provide enough choices for you to create a highly customized interior that speaks to your road-going personality. If the S-Line trim isn’t to your liking, you can choose either the Advanced or Design Selection trim instead. The Advanced trim sits as the entry-level trim of the citycarver so you get all the standard equipment and not much else. The Design Selection builds on the Advanced trim’s offerings and adds interior mood lighting in the event that’s to your liking.

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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From the standpoint of technology, the Audi A1 citycarver is no different from the A1 Sportback, or even the standard A1. It’s available with a 10.1-inch touchscreen that displays Audi’s intuitive MMI infotainment system. A fully digital instrument cluster also comes standard, though if you want to level up on the technology, you can score Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system. The A1 citycarver isn’t short on functions, too. It’s equipped with Google Earth navigation, online traffic and parking information, a Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices, and a Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System that can deliver an eardrum-busting 560 watts of power.

If luggage space is a concern, you should be happy to know that the Audi A1 citycarver boasts 12.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats. Fold the rear seats and you’re looking at close to 40 cubic feet of storage space in the A1 citycarver. That should be enough to store a month’s worth of grocery items, among other bits and pieces.

Drivetrain

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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No surprises are coming in this department. Audi didn’t announce the engine lineup for the A1 citycarver so there’s a good chance that it shares the same engines with the A1 Sportback. The German automaker instead focused on the citycarver’s suspension upgrades, which tells you where the important technical parts and elements of the A1 citycarver can be found.

In any case, let’s focus on what we can expect from the A1 citycarver as far as an engine lineup is concerned.

First up is a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that should come in two different states of tune: a 94-horsepower version and a 114-horsepower version.

The figures aren’t anything to get excited about, but we are, after all, talking about the A1 here. If you’re looking for something more potent than the three-cylinder engine, you can opt for a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower. That’s a decent amount of power, especially if you decide to bring the A1 citycarver outside the city. If you’re the type who settles for nothing but the range-topper, you could avail the top-of-the-line A1 citycarver, which should feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 197 horsepower. That’s an interesting return for a high-riding A1 that’s supposed to be in its element off the beaten path.

Audi A1 citycarver specifications
Engine Horsepower Transmission
1.0-liter, turbocharged, three-cylinder 94 HP six-speed manual or S-Tronic dual-clutch
1.0-liter, turbocharged, three-cylinder 114 HP six-speed manual or S-Tronic dual-clutch
1.5-liter, four-cylinder 148 HP six-speed manual or S-Tronic dual-clutch
2.0-liter, four-cylinder 197 HP S-Tronic dual-clutch
2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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It should be noted, too, that the 1.0-liter and 1.5-liter engines are available with either a six-speed manual transmission or an S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. The top-of-the-line 2.0-liter four-cylinder, on the other hand, only comes with an automatic transmission so riding the rough roads with a manual gearbox isn’t an option there. The good news is that the A1 Sportback comes with four driving modes: Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency, and Individual. There’s a good chance that the A1 citycarver will have a similar setup, including, perhaps, an off-road mode. It wouldn’t be surprising if it did.

The performance specs for the Audi A1 citycarver are probably not high on Audi’s priorities.

Still, we can expect the top-of-the-line, 197-horsepower version to cover 0 to 62 mph in about 6.5 seconds. Top speed should sit at around 140 mph considering what previous versions of the A1 Sportback are capable of from a performance perspective.

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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In some ways, the Audi A1 citycarver’s suspension setup is where the significant changes lie, specifically when you avail the optional Dynamic package that includes a smattering of new components. New brake disks with sporty red calipers are part of the package. The package also includes a sound actuator, adjustable dampers, and the option to go bigger with a set of 18-inch wheels.

Prices

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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Audi hasn’t released pricing details for the A1 citycarver, but with the model expected to arrive sometime in the fall of 2019, the German automaker should come out with the pricing details sooner than later. If you can’t wait for the details to arrive, you can assume that the A1 citycarver will be priced at or close to the €29,650 price tag of the A1 Sportback. That converts to around $33,000. It’s a bit more expensive than what you’d normally pay for a compact crossover, but at least you won’t have to consume yourselves wondering if you’re going to buy one when the hatchover goes on sale later this year. There are no plans at the moment to bring the A1 citycarver in the US. Seeing as the standard A1 isn’t offered here, to begin with, it’s not at all surprising that the A1 citycarver will remain an exclusive Old Continent model.

Competition

Hyundai i20 Active

2016 Hyundai i20 Active High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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There aren’t that many high-riding hatchbacks in the market today so that’s good news for the Audi A1 citycarver. But just because there aren’t that many competitors to worry about, that doesn’t mean that the A1 citycarver has the sub-segment all to itself. The Hyundai i20 Active has some years under its belt — it was launched in 2015 — but Hyundai has done a remarkable job keeping the model as fresh and as up-to-date as it possibly can. The i20 Active shares many of the same characteristics you’ll see in the A1 citycarver, including the higher ride height and all the crossover-like cladding adorning the bumpers, wheel arches, and side skirts of the vehicle. There’s not much differentiation in the engine department, either, at least if the A1 citycarver does use the same engine lineup as its A1 Sportback cousin. For its part, the i20 Active comes with its own engine lineup, beginning with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that’s available in two states of tune, delivering either 98 horsepower or 118 horsepower. Bigger engines are also available, namely a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that can produce 98 horsepower and a 1.4-liter diesel unit that’s good for 89 ponies. The Audi A1 citycarver and the Hyundai i20 Active belong in two different segments: one is a premium brand while the other is a mainstream brand. This difference is displayed in many ways, including the i20 Active’s price tag of just £16,120, which converts to just under $20,000. But as the two automakers are different, there are also times when they cross paths with models that offer the same things at different price points.

Read our full review on the Hyundai i20 Active

Ford Fiesta Active

2018 Ford Fiesta Active
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The Ford Fiesta Active doesn’t look much and it doesn’t inspire that much excitement and confidence. But it is a high-riding version of the standard Fiesta. That should count for something, particularly in the European market where these models are getting a lot of attention. On the surface, the A1 citycarver has a big edge over the Fiesta Active. The former, after all, still traces its roots to the A1 Sportback, which is handily one of the best premium hatchbacks in the business today. The Fiesta, however, is good for what Ford claims it does. It’s not at all a bad car. It’s just not the A1. However, the Fiesta Active does have one thing over the A1 citycarver: a much friendlier price point. The entry-level model starts at just £17,790, which converts to just under $22,000. Opt for the range-topping Fiesta ActiveX and you’re looking at a price that starts at £20,290 before options. That converts to a little over $24,500. For that price, you’re purchasing a model that has 138 horsepower on tap from a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. If the price is a little high, lower-spec versions of the Fiesta Active have engines that produce anywhere from 84 horsepower to 123 horsepower. The Ford Fiesta Active is a great choice for people who don’t want to spend the equivalent of more than $30,000 on a high-riding hatchback. You’ll lose out on all the premium amenities that come in the A1 citycarver, but at least you get to keep more of your money in the bank.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Fiesta Active

Conclusion

2019 Audi A1 citycarver
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I have mixed feelings about the Audi A1 citycarver. On the one hand, I understand what Audi’s doing. The German automaker is leveraging yet another model with a version that can be interpreted as a hybrid hatchback and crossover. Since the latter type sells like ice cream on a hot summer day, it’s a smart gamble on the part of Audi at a minimal cost to its bottom line. It’s not like the automaker’s developing a new platform here. What we’re seeing is an Audi A1 with a raised ride height. That’s it. Every other piece of equipment needed to build the A1 citycarver is already in Audi’s disposal. It’s making a new model from parts it already has. It’s brilliant. On the other hand, I find myself thinking sometimes if Audi, like every other automaker, has come to a point where quantity has taken precedence over quality. It doesn’t matter what you think about the A1 citycarver. At the end of the day, it’s a money grab wrapped up in fancy phrases like “enhanced driving experience” and “go-anywhere fun.” I appreciate the marketing talk, but at the end of the day, the A1 citycarver is a slightly taller A1 Sportback. If you need that extra two inches in ground clearance, then, by all means, go and buy the A1 citycarver. If you don’t need it, the A1 or the A1 Sportback will do.

  • Leave it
    • It’s a slightly taller version of the A1 Sportback
    • You don’t need if you’re not the outdoorsy type
    • Not available in America

Further reading

2019 Audi A1 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Audi A1.

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