At a glance: Audi A1

At a glance: Audi A1
At a glance: Audi A1

Want one of the best small cars on the market? Look no further. The Audi A1 may share parts with the VW Polo supermini, but it feels every inch the genuine downsized premium car. It’s the sternest challenge BMW’s ever-popular Mini has yet faced.

The regular car is a three-door hatch, and there’s a five-door version called Sportback. Large car tech features are blended with big car refinement to create one of Audi’s most popular cars. It’s not hard to see why.

DRIVING

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Performance
• 1.0-litre turbo petrol fine in town, but take the 1.4-litre for best all-round performance
• 1.6 TDI is a good lugger, so rarely needs to be worked hard
• 228bhp S1 is a four-wheel drive rocketship

Ride and handling
• Each trim level – SE, Sport and S line – has a different suspension set-up. Choose carefully
• The standard car is comfortable, Sport is a good all-rounder, S line is too firm for most
• All A1 are controlled and fun; S1 is very focused, handles astonishingly well

Refinement
• The little 1.0-litre is noisy as you have to work it hard
• The 1.6-litre TDI is noisy even though you don’t have to work it hard
• The 1.4-litre is calmer; again, the S1 is gravelly and characterful

IN THE CABIN

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Behind the wheel
• The A1 has the perfect driving position of larger models
• Sport trim brings better seat bolstering
• Parking sensors are a cheap optional extra to make parking easier in town

Space and practicality
• Roomy in the front, one of the A1’s weakest areas is its poor rear-seat space
• The boot is average but still bigger than a Mini
• S1 models have a smaller boot due to their four-wheel drive system

Equipment
• SE is a bit basic. Sport has all the nice touches you’ll ever need
• All models have a 6.5in colour display mounted on the dashboard
• Optional Bose sound system is expensive but is seriously impressive

BUYING AND OWNING

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Price and running costs
• The Audi A1 is not cheap. It’s pricier than the VW Polo despite being based on it
• Prices are more comparable with the Mini and retained values are excellent
• Fuel economy is good and the 1.4 TFSI 125 performed well in True MPG testing

Quality and reliability
• Build quality is fantastic. There is no better finished supermini than this
• Reliability data suggests A1 owners suffer a few more problems than the class norm.
• Audi’s three-year new car warranty is limited to 60,000 miles

Safety and security
• In 2010, Euro NCAP awarded the A1 five stars; the Mini scored four stars in 2014
• All A1 have six airbags, ISOFIX monitoring and tyre pressure monitoring
• Every A1 comes with a standard alarm

Instant verdict: A condensed class act. Everything that’s so great about Audi, downsized

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