- Good level of equipment as standard
- High build quality
- Engaging driving experience
- Not the most practical
- Can be uncomfortable on rough roads
- Some rivals are funkier
What's the Audi A1 like?
There can be few cars that have won as many accolades within such a short time of launch as the Audi A1 and having driven a number of different versions, I can see what all those awards were about.
The quality is all around you, from the soft touch materials throughout to the excellent technology, the way the switches work so beautifully and the performance.
The A1 was the company’s answer to the MINI Hatchback, and while it’s nowhere near as funky and special, that quality stands out.
The smooth range of petrol engines available from 2010 until 2018 starts with an 85bhp 1.2-litre, that was later replaced by a 95bhp 1.0-litre.
Light weight means that both offer decent performance, with the 1.0-litre clearing the 0 to 60mph sprint in 10.6 seconds.
The next petrol is the 1.4-litre TFSI, which even in the lowest power 120bhp models, gets to 60mph in around 8.5 seconds.
But it’s also available at different times with 140, 150 and 182bhp, and these all bring the sprint down to under 7.0 seconds.
Earlier models were available with 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines that had 115 or 140bhp, but latterly the 2.0-litre was dropped in favour of the 1.6-litre, which clears the sprint in 9.1 seconds.
The 1.2-litre petrol is rated at 55mpg, while the 1.0-litre is supposed to be capable of 64mpg. The 1.4-litre 120bhp has a government figure of 54mpg while the 140bhp model is strangely rated higher at 60mpg.
The 1.6-litre diesel is the economy master, managing an excellent 74mpg.
There are two body styles to choose from, the standard 3-door hatch and a 5-door called the Sportback, which came onto the market in 2012.
But be warned, access into either model’s rear seats is difficult, and there's only a small amount of rear legroom.
This means that both are really only three seaters if there’s a tall driver, but this and the hard-ish ride are the A1’s only faults.
Driving Experience and Equipment
The ride is lumpy over rougher surfaces at slow speeds – and sometimes even quite uncomfortable in town – but it does smooth out as speed rises.
Drive is to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox with a swift, easy change and a light clutch.
Audi’s S tronic version of the VW group's DSG automatic is available on many models, and standard on the top 1.4-litre.
It's one of the best autos on the market, but adds a lot to prices because it's so expensive new, and it's very expensive to repair if things go wrong.
Performance is fair to excellent across the range and all the engines are smooth and quiet.
The driving position is excellent for all sizes, and the handling and roadholding are wonderful, with huge grip.
A1 models come with a lovely, soft-feel leather-covered steering wheel, well-shaped hip and back hugging seats, MP3 stereo, climate control and self-levelling headlights.
They also have traction and stability control, alloy wheels, electric front windows, 60/40 split-fold back seats, voice activation and a trip computer, while mid-range Sport adds sports seats and audio remote control.
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The Audi A1 is a chic supermini that offers an engaging driving experience and a top build quality. With a variety of economical engines to choose from, as well as good levels of advanced equipment, the A1 is a small car that's hard to beat.
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