Audi A1 (2010-2018) review - Engines, performance and drive

Choose between town-focused 1.0-litre petrol, 1.6-litre diesel for motorway driving and sizzling 2.0-litre petrol for thrills

Our pick of the A1’s engines is the 1.0 TFSI petrol unit with 94bhp. With acceleration to 62mph taking 11.0 seconds, it’s not exactly a powerhouse, but it sounds great and is happy to be revved, making it fun to drive. Also, because of its light weight (it only weighs 1,060kg), it feels far friskier than the performance figures suggest. 

The most economical A1s are powered by the 1.6 TDI diesel, but considering it’s at least £1,000 more expensive to buy than the 1.0-litre petrol, you’ll need to work out the sums to make sure you’ll do the mileage to cover this extra outlay. The most powerful petrol engine apart from the range-topping S1, is the 1.4 TFSI petrol engine, with either 123bhp or 148bhp, but we reckon for most, that the little 1.0-litre will be a perfect fit.

However, that’s before you take the 228bhp S1 Quattro into account. The S1 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, which is giant-killing in a car of this size and weight. Then, add in four-wheel-drive traction, and you’ve got all the grip to go with that sparkling performance.

Performance and drive

As it shares mechanicals with the Volkswagen Polo, the Audi A1 unsurprisingly errs on the side of sensible rather than exciting with its driving experience. Sport and S line models get lowered and stiffened suspension (although buyers can revert to the standard set-up before they take delivery at no extra cost), plus the steering is precise and well weighted, and there’s a decent amount of grip. But the A1 can’t match the engaging MINI or DS 3 for ultimate driving fun.

• Best superminis to buy now 

The ride is quite firm in any form, so if you decide to go for an S line model then it becomes quite uncomfortable. Unless you live somewhere with exceptionally smooth roads, we'd stick to the softer-riding SE versions – or select the standard suspension on range-topping models. Visibility is good in the Audi A1, and it's pretty easy to park, so it ticks the urban runabout boxes well.

Thanks to the low weight of its engine, the 1.0 TFSI petrol model has the best steering in the line-up, and ultimately delivers the best handling of any A1.

Having said that, both 1.4 TFSI models offer decent economy and a lower price than the diesel cars. The 148bhp version won't upset the MINI Cooper S – it's quite quick, yet lacks involvement. The S1 is faster, but comes at quite a price premium.

All engines are smooth and refined, and most are hooked up to the slick six-speed manual gearbox. However, as of the 2015 facelift, all engines – including the 1.6-litre TDI – are available with the seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic auto.

Just like the petrol engines, the 1.6-litre diesel is quiet and smooth on the move, but it works best with the manual gearbox rather than the seven-speed auto, as the manual adds a dose of much-needed fun.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    25 TFSI Technik 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £18,910

Most Economical

  • Name
    30 TFSI 110 Technik 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,645

Fastest

  • Name
    40 TFSI 207 S Line Competition 5dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £26,350

Most Popular

Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets
Chausson motorhome
Tips & advice

Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets

In the market for a new motorhome? Here are our top-five recommendations...
18 May 2022
New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3
Volkswagen Aero B exclusive image - front
Volkswagen

New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3

The new four-door VW Aero B EV could come with up to 435 miles of range and our exclusive images preview how it could look
20 May 2022
New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up
Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider - watermarked front
Alfa Romeo

New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up

Alfa Romeo bosses have confirmed that a new two-seat electric roadster is in the company’s rejuvenation plans and our exclusive images preview how it …
19 May 2022