Audi A1 Sportback vs MINI One 5dr
Premium superminis prove small needn’t mean basic, with Audi’s new 1.0 turbo A1 the latest arrival. We see if it can topple the MINI
Premium superminis are big business for manufacturers. The concept of giving a small car an upmarket makeover with plenty of scope for personalisation was pioneered by MINI, but it has subsequently been adopted by a number of other companies, including Audi.
The A1 has proven a strong seller, yet that hasn’t stopped the German brand from refreshing its supermini to keep it competitive against newer class rivals.
One major change is the introduction of a new 1.0-litre TFSI petrol engine. This turbo replaces the naturally aspirated 1.6, and brings with it improved economy and emissions without a compromise in performance.
So, how does the updated A1 compare with our current premium supermini champ, the third-generation MINI? The British-built machine was launched last year, and it’s clear that Audi’s revisions have been designed to keep the A1 competitive against it.
For this test, we’re putting five-door versions of the entry-level 1.0 TFSI A1 SE and three-cylinder MINI One head-to-head. These cars are evenly matched – but has Audi done enough to steal the premium supermini crown?
Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which posh hatch comes out on top...
The entry-level A1 SE can be specced up with £400 contrast roof colours if you add the £390 metallic paint, but there are no wheel options, just the standard 15-inch alloy rims. In contrast, the MINI One gets only a body-coloured roof: Cooper models and above have a contrast roof option for no extra cost. However, you can upgrade the One’s steel wheels and plastic covers with alloys ranging from 15-18 inches in size and priced from £300 to £1,895.
Audi offers contrast-colour air vent sleeves on the A1, or colour-coded interior trim for £500. You can also upgrade to a Bose surround-sound speaker system for £690, which adds illuminated speaker housings (above). The MINI One can be had with gloss black or dark grey trim (£125), and colour fabric on the doors and dash (£75), while the LED interior lights in the headlining and central dial change colour according to how you’ve set them up.
1st place: MINI
If you’re looking for a fun yet stylish first car, the MINI One is a great choice. The five-door delivers greater practicality and more cabin style than the Audi. But perhaps more importantly, it’s more exciting behind the wheel. The agile chassis combined with a punchy petrol engine and precise steering combine to deliver a fun driving experience that more than makes up for its higher tax costs.
2nd place: Audi A1
The A1 Sportback has style on its side when compared to the MINI, and the 1.0 TFSI engine’s low emissions will make it an attractive fleet choice. However, in every other respect the Audi’s been left largely unchanged. That means the cabin doesn’t look as fresh as the MINI’s, and it’s not as spacious, either. Add in the higher price of options, and it misses out this time around.
Other options in this category
Fiat 500 TwinAir (105) Lounge
Price: £14,420 Engine: 0.9-litre 2cyl, 104bhp
Facelifted 500 isn’t as spacious as the A1 or MINI, and you can’t get a five-door body, but there’s plenty of personalisation and Lounge spec is well equipped. The higher-powered TwinAir is a match for the MINI’s emissions.
DS 3 1.2 PureTech DStyle
Price: £14,795 Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl, 81bhp
The other obvious rival here is the DS 3, which again is three-door only, but has roomier back seats and a bigger boot than the Audi. At this price only the lower-powered car is available; it’s slower but also less economical than the A1.
|MINI One 5dr||Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI (95) SE|
|On the road price/total as tested||£14,565/£15,425||£14,975/£22,915|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£7,821/53.7%||£9,884/66.0%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£492/£985||£418/£836|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,360/£2,267||£1,366/£2,277|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||12/£405/B/£20||15/£417/A/£0|
|Servicing costs||£349 (5yrs/50k)||£450 (5yrs/50k)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/1,198cc||3cyl in-line/999cc|
|Peak power/revs||101/4,000 bhp/rpm||94/5,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||180/1,400 Nm/rpm||160/1,500 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/fwd||5-spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||40 litres/£65||45 litres/repair kit|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||278/941 litres||270/920 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||11.0 metres/0.29Cd||10.7 metres/0.32Cd|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000k)/3yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable/148||Variable/121|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||16th/10th||13th/25th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||79/73/66/4 (2014)||90/79/49/5 (2010)|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.8/9.9 secs||9.9/10.3 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||5.1/6.8 secs||5.1/7.4 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||9.1/10.7 secs||10.9 secs/N/A|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||119mph/2,400rpm||116mph/2,600rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||44.8/9.9/394 miles||44.6/9.8/441 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||146/112g/km/17%||146/97g/km/14%|
|Automatic box/stability/cruise control||£1,270/yes/£215||£1,540/yes/£225|
|Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats||£325/£1,305/£215||£330/£1,550/£215|
|Met paint/contrast roof/keyless go||£475/no/£215||£390/£400/£390|