Audi A1 review
The Audi A1 is a luxurious and sporty-looking small hatch that gives the MINI a run for its money
The latest Audi A1 certainly ups its game from a visual perspective, and with its wide grille similar to that of the R8 supercar, the luxurious supermini looks distinctly sporty. The reality is less exciting on the road, because although the A1 handles very competently and rides well, it doesn’t have the sporty responses of its key rival the MINI. It wins back ground when it comes to refinement though, as the A1 is almost as hushed and relaxed to ride in as a Mercedes C-Class.
The interior design looks very upmarket-Audi too, but closer inspection reveals very similar materials used to the much cheaper VW Polo. Engine choice is limited, but performance is satisfactory, and with only a roomy five-door body available it’s practical too.
The Audi A1 in this its second generation is available as a five-door hatchback, which Audi refers to as a Sportback, and the higher-riding Citycarver model with its SUV-lite styling. The previous model was available in three-door guise too, but that option is no more. A1 powertrain options are a mere shadow of what was available before too, but at least there are a decent number of trim levels for customers to browse.
The line-up kicks off with the A1 Technik, which features 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and rear lamps, an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen and Audi’s smartphone interface. Next up is the A1 Sport, which gives you bigger 16-inch 10-spoke turbine style alloys, front sport seats, rear parking sensors and cruise control, along with some minor exterior trim tweaks. The S Line gives you 17-inch 5-spoke alloys, lowered firmer suspension and an exterior styling pack, while S Line Competition has its own 17-inch wheel design, but also gives you adjustable damping – you can spot one by its grey painted door mirrors.
The S Line Contrast Edition doesn’t get the electronic dampers, but you do get huge 18-inch alloys in gloss black, plus dark LED headlamps and a Python Yellow paint job with contrasting roof and door mirrors. The S Line Style edition is a variation on a similar theme, but with different colour options and an LED ambient lighting pack. The Citycarver adds some pseudo-SUV black plastic exterior trim and front and rear off-road-style bumper plates.
Engine options for the A1 include a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit with 94bhp, badged 25 TFSI and available with either 5-speed manual, or 7-speed S tronic auto transmission. Then there's the 114bhp 30 TFSI, offered with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed S tronic auto. The 35 TFSI introduces a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 148bhp mated to the seven-speed auto transmission.
For keener drivers there's the A1 S line Competition 40 TFSI S tronic, with a 2.0-litre powerplant delivering 197bhp.
Given its high pricing, the Audi A1 is trying to carve a bit of a niche of its own as ‘the’ premium supermini, it seems. It has the less practical MINI line-up to contend with of course, but its biggest problem may be the sheer quality and desirability of its VW Group stablemate the VW Polo, which offers similar tech and build quality, for a lot less cash. Other possible rivals in the style-led small car market include even the Peugeot 208 and the Fiat 500, but neither feels as grown-up as the Audi A1.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi A1 is a luxurious and sporty-looking small hatch that gives the MINI a run for its money
- 2Engines, performance and driveA smooth ride, with crisp handling and exceptional refinement make the Audi A1 a pleasure to drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Audi A1’s day-to-day running costs should be no more than rivals, but it may keep its value better
- 4Interior, design and technologyExcellent design is backed up with superior Audi Virtual Cockpit tech, but the cabin plastics could be nicer
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceFive-door practicality and a roomy cabin make the A1 a very family-friendly option
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Audi A1 offers a comprehensive safety package, and we expect a strong performance on reliability too