What is the Audi A1?
Audi’s smallest offering provides a classy supermini alternative to the Mini and Alfa MiTo, while offering almost all the qualities we’ve come to expect from the brand. These include classily elegant styling, a very well-finished interior and good engines. Unfortunately, some of the less appealing traits are carried through too, including the rather wooden ride and a character that’s a little bland.
But there’s no denying the A1’s strong showroom appeal. It can be had in three-door hatch and five-door Sportback bodystyles and with petrol engines of 1.2 and 1.4 litres and diesels of 1.6 and 2.0 litres.
The basic A1 provides smoothly adequate performance for a 1.2 — not great for the money Audi asks — but it makes a good town car. The 2.0 diesel provides strong pulling power, the 1.6 TDI less so, but the best compromise is the 122bhp 1.4 TFSI, which goes briskly and has a character that suits the car well, especially as the diesels feel a bit nose-heavy through corners and are a touch noisy, too. Both this and the 2.0 TDI make excellent motorway cruisers, and the 1.4 is available with a twin-clutch automatic, too.
It’s important to pay attention to the wheel sizes and trim levels you choose with the A1 if you value ride comfort, because, perversely, spending more produces a more turbulent experience. So while the S-line option may get you trendier 17in alloys and lowered suspension, the result is a harsher ride that many will find disappointing in a car of this calibre. The same goes for the Black edition, which has 18in rims. Best is the Sport, which rides on 16in wheels and is sharp enough to be fun without becoming uncomfortable.
Audi is the master of in-car furnishings, as even its competitors admit, and the A1 does not disappoint, from the quality of its fixtures and fittings to the (mostly) tasteful colour combinations available. Mostly, because as with the Mini, you can mix and match to produce some surprisingly lurid colour combinations, besides being able to choose multiple colours for details like the air-vent housings. All of which makes this a fun car to order, nevertheless.
The cabin itself is certainly comfortable up front, and places you behind a particularly clear control layout that’s easy to use. The boot’s big too, but the sloping rear window and upright back seats make travelling in the back a cramped experience. The Sport trim provides the best equipment package, the extra outlay getting you Bluetooth, sports seats and higher-grade interior trim.
What to look out for when buying a used Audi A1
There have been reports of software glitches with the optional dual-clutch (S tronic) auto gearbox, and some owners have found this unusually noisy. Audi has not enjoyed the best reputation for reliability in recent years, but the A1 looks pretty well screwed together.
Additional reporting by Farah Alkhalisi
The one to buy
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport
- £16,215 (price correct at time of publishing)
- 1368cc, in-line four
- 122bhp @ 5000rpm
- 148 lb ft @ 1500rpm
- 6-speed manual (S tronic automatic available)
- 0-62mph in 8.9sec
- Top Speed:
- 53.3mpg combined
- Road Tax Band:
- L 3954mm, W 1740mm, H 1416mm
Audi A1 rivals
- Volkswagen Up! (click for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Mini Hatchback (click for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Alfa Romeo MiTo (click for used car prices on driving.co.uk)