Audi A1 (2010-2018) review
The Audi A1 packs sharp looks, a high-quality finish and good refinement into a supermini package
Admittedly the A1 can become very expensive if you splash out with optional extras, and there’s no denying that the A1 can’t match its arch-rival – the MINI hatch – for fun behind the wheel. But the Audi will certainly appeal to those who aren’t keen on the MINI’s retro styling.
Good economy is achieved thanks to a range of small capacity petrol and diesel engines, which also deliver almost as much driving enjoyment as the high-performance S1 quattro model at the top of the range.
Think A1, think Audi’s premium supermini, rivaling the most stylish cars in its class such as the MINI, DS 3 and even the Fiat 500. Under the skin, the A1 is more mainstream, using a platform that's shared with its Volkswagen Group sister cars, the Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. So what this means is, that while the A1 is good to drive, it doesn’t really offer any more for owners in terms of the handling and practicality compared to its Volkswagen Group sister cars – yet it costs much more. That said, the new Audi A1 is set to go on sale next month, so stay tuned to find out how the new car measures up to the competition.
What helps justify the A1’s higher price, is its sharp styling, with the first-rate interior design that oozes quality like any other member of the Audi range. A minor facelift happened in 2015, but exterior changes were small. The A1 remains defined by that big, imposing family grille, plus those narrow, piercing headlights and finally, the attractively creased and curved body. So despite being the smallest member of the range, it’s still clearly one of the Audi family. Yet, the MINI and DS 3 are more distinctive in our opinion, especially if you go for the basic entry-level SE model, which although still handsome, perhaps looks too ordinary.
A1 trims follow other models in the Audi range, with three basic versions; SE, Sport and S line, then there are Black Edition cars, which are based on the S line trim but with added extra black trim inside and out. The range topper is the high-performance S1, which has a 228bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and quattro four-wheel drive.
A1 models are offered with a choice of three engines. Petrol engines are the 1.0 TFSI 94bhp and 1.4 TFSI with either 123bhp or 148bhp (the more powerful engine available in S line and Black Edition trims only), diesel fans have just the one engine option, the 115bhp 1.6 TDI. You can have your A1 in either three-door, or five-door Sportback body styles, the latter commanding a premium of around £620 over the three-door.
So, just the two body styles for Audi’s baby, but on the flip side, there are plenty of other options to make your A1 your own. For example, there are some striking colour options, including a near-fluorescent yellow. This is in addition to the Audi’s contrast roof and window frame colours, along with colour-coded air vent surrounds that can be added on the inside.
Rivals such as the MINI five-door might be a match for the A1 Sportback in terms of cabin space. However, this Audi is still a surprisingly spacious, premium supermini choice, with a practically-sized boot and reasonable rear legroom.
Considering Audi offers convertible versions of most of its models, it’s a surprise it doesn’t make a drop-top A1, to take on both the MINI Convertible, which comes with a full soft-top, or the peel-back fabric roof designs of the DS 3 Cabrio or Fiat 500C. Although a convertible could feature in the A1’s future, with the second-generation car due to debut in 2018.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi A1 packs sharp looks, a high-quality finish and good refinement into a supermini package
- 2Engines, performance and driveChoose between town-focused 1.0-litre petrol, 1.6-litre diesel for motorway driving and sizzling 2.0-litre petrol for thrills
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEfficient engine range means the Audi A1 is at the cutting edge in its class for emissions and economy
- 4Interior, design and technologyNot only is the A1 gorgeous to look at, it has a high-quality feel, and space is reasonable
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThere’s no getting away from the fact that the A1 is small, but it’s still a comfortable car
- 6Reliability and SafetyAudis are solidly built, but the A1 hasn’t performed well in the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey