Audi A1 1.2 TSI

We drive the smallest engined petrol to find out if the lighter, less powerful car is the pick of the A1 line-up.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

For most buyers, there’s no need to head further up the range – this entry-level 1.2-litre turbo petrol model has plenty of pace, and will be cheap to run. It’s ideal for nipping about town and can hold its own on the motorway, too. Thanks to its lightweight engine, it’s also fun to drive and has a comfortable ride. However, while the base price is low, you’d be advised to add nearly £1,000 in extras – such as contrasting roof rails and metallic paint – to make the A1 stand out and ensure strong resale values.

Big-car quality in a small, chic package – it’s no wonder the A1 is one of the hottest superminis in the UK right now. But can all that appeal come at an affordable price? Auto Express tried the entry-level 85bhp 1.2-litre TFSI-engined SE version to find out.

Costing £13,420, it’s still £300 more expensive then the 98bhp 1.6-litre MINI One, and a whopping £1,620 over the 95bhp 1.4 Citroen DS3 VTi DSign – even though it boasts less power.  Still, the TFSI unit impresses. It’s smooth and punchy, feeling faster than its 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds suggests. Plus, it returns 55.4mpg and emits only 118g/km of CO2, so you won’t pay road tax in the first year of registration, and only £30 the next. This compares favourably with its rivals.

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

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Tipping the scales at 1,040kg, the 1.2 TFSI is the lightest A1 – weighing 60kg less than the 1.4 TFSI and 100kg down on the 1.6 TDI diesel. And you can certainly feel that on the move. The nose eagerly points into corners, the steering is light and accurate (if not exactly brimming with feel) and it’s all very sprightly – around town, at least. There’s not the instant response of the diesel or the 1.4 TFSI when you want to overtake – but with 160Nm of torque, the little engine still copes admirably.

The 1.2 TFSI rides really well, too, proving firm but compliant, while there’s also much more space than you get in a MINI. While the price tag includes standard equipment such as air-conditioning, an iPod dock and 16-inch alloys, if you want contrasting roof rails – our test car did not have them, and they really help the A1 stand out – you’ll have to pay a further £350. Metallic paint, another desirable option, is £510.

The high-quality cabin, meanwhile, features beautifully weighted switches and stalks, along with classy materials. With solid residual values, this is one of the best A1 models in the range.

Rival: DS3 1.4 VTi DSign At only £11,800, Citroen’s base DS3 makes the A1 look rather expensive. The perky 95bhp model is very appealing, too – spacious, good looking, a tidy driver and easy to personalise.

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