Audi A1

Audi A1
3 Aug, 2011 1:01am

All-new model takes on MINI and beats it to the title

Why it won...

It’s top marks for the Audi A1, which scoops this year’s premium supermini prize. With its winning blend of style, refinement and top-notch quality, the newcomer has toppled the mighty MINI, which has ruled the class virtually unopposed for the past 10 years.

The A1 is a more grown-up choice than its British rival, with a subtle and sophisticated look, while its beautifully built and designed cabin sets new standards in the sector. As you’d expect, there are plenty of customisation options, with owners able to add eye-catching contrasting roof pillars on the outside, plus colourful extras inside. Better still, it delivers decent practicality, with room for two adults in the back and a useful boot.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi A1

But it’s the way the Audi drives that really impresses. In corners, its compact dimensions and sharp steering deliver impressive agility, while long-distance comfort and refinement are a cut above the competition.

Adding to the appeal is the excellent engine line-up, which includes Audi’s punchy turbocharged TFSI petrol units and frugal TDI diesels. Buyers even have the option of the manufacturer’s slick S tronic twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox.

Despite the A1’s designer label, running costs are pleasingly low. Eco-friendly features such as stop-start and regenerative braking help keep fuel bills down, while pre-paid servicing packages mean that outlay on maintenance will be minimal.

Our pick: Keep it simple with the 1.2 TFSI SE – that’s what we recommend. It’s the entry point to the A1 range, and benefits from an eager and sweet-revving petrol powerplant, on top of all the other attributes of this car. Spend the money you’ve saved on some desirable customisation options.

Highly commended

Citroen DS3
The desirable DS3 injects plenty of flair into this sector. Eye-catching looks, a quality cabin and a long list of standard equipment provide plenty of showroom appeal, while a nimble chassis makes it a riot on the open road. The rapid 1.6 THP DSport is the pick of the line-up.

Last year’s winner still has a lot going for it, including retro looks and engaging driving dynamics. There are plenty of models to choose from, while pre-paid servicing and EfficientDynamics kit keep running costs low. Only the cramped cabin and firm ride let the Brit down.