Audi A1 Review
The A1 is the premium supermini model in the impressive Audi line up.
- Sprightly 1.4 TFSI petrol engine that’s quick
- Good fuel economy figures
- Stylish supermini
- Rear seats are cramped and uncomfortable
- Options are costly
- Bit noisy inside
When Audi introduced the compact A1 seven years ago they filled in a gap in their line up which was a welcome sight to those wanting to buy into the premium brand but didn’t want the A3 hatchback.
We’ve driven it in three-door guise which isn’t the most practical car if you’re looking to take passengers, especially children, so we had the five-door Sportback for a week to see if it could appeal to families.
On the Road
Our test car came with the 1.4 litre TFSI petrol engine which delivers 150PS with 250 Nm of torque and this propels it from 0 - 62 mph in just 7.8 seconds, with a top speed of 134mph. The four-cylinder is suprisingly no slouch from the off with our car coming with a sporty, six-speed manual transmission that’s positive and precise.
Featuring their Cylinder on Demand technology, this system helps increase fuel economy and will let you know when it’s using just two cylinders, so expect low running costs as it emits just 117 g/km of CO2. This costs £160 for the first year, and although we didn’t manage to get near the 56.5 mpg figure it still manages to offer decent performance and efficiency. We did a 150 mile round trip with motorway, B roads and lanes where we didn't hang around and it gave 38mpg.
In Dynamic Mode it’s quick! Surely the numbers are wrong (!) but it feels a great little hot hatch.
The week we had it, it snowed...lots. Naturally on the first day of the white stuff we didn’t take it out for fear of getting stuck as it didn’t have Audi’s quattro system on it, but once it had melted it proved itself to be a fun drive, handling really well, feeling agile and light thanks to its small dimensions and good levels of steering feedback, which is just what you want.
The ride isn’t the best, especially in the rear and you feel every single jut in the road, the sport suspension on the Black Edition not really doing a good job of soaking up road inadequacies too well and on 18-inch wheels it can be noisy inside.
Coming as standard on the Black Edition is Audi’s drive select where driver’s can scroll through three different modes: Auto, Dynamic and Efficiency, which will adjust steering and throttle response dependant on your driving style.
The A1 we had on test was the Black Edition, even though the standard SE is one of the best looking superminis on the market, this trim adds privacy glass, 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, and a radiator grille, rear diffuser and tailpipes in a stylish gloss black finish.
There are two standard paint colours available: Shell white and Brilliant black, with optional colours that include a stunning Utopia blue and vibrant Misano red.
And if you really want to stand out from the crowd, their exclusive colour range includes a bright Viper green and vivid Nogaro blue which will set you back an eye-watering £2,400. There is also the possibility of a contrasting roof colour if you really like personalisation.
In the car
Jump behind the wheel and you’re snugly ensconsed in the driver’s sports seat which features an embossed S line logo. S line badging also features on the nice to the touch, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel which is also multi-functional. We reckon it’s the same shape as a new RS4 so it adds class and style.
There is a fold down 6.5-inch MMI display screen which features navigation, car settings, entertainment and phone connectivity information and although it’s the larger models in the Audi line up that have the impressive MMI touch system, this is fairly intuitive and simple to use with a scroll dial and buttons.
The interior is typically Audi, it’s uncluttered, stylish yet functional and additions in Black Edition trim include pedals in stainless steel, an Audi sound system, LED daytime-running lights, an LED interior lighting pack plus light and rain sensors.
We were really intrigued to see how the Sportback would fare as a family car, at just under 4 metres long it isn’t as spacious as we thought it might have been up front. We did put a child car seat in the rear, but once the front passenger seat was moved forward to accomodate little kicking legs, leg room was very limited. Everything about the A1 is a snug fit and tall rear passengers will struggle to be comfortable as the seat backs are quite upright.
Naturally the sportback is more practical than the 3-door, but if it was going to be a sole family car it wouldn’t be ideal for longer journeys and trips with huge amounts of luggage as the boot is quite compact at 270 litres, but with 60:40 split rear-folding seats it increases it to 920 litres.
The Audi A1 starts from £15,375 for the entry level SE with the 1.0 litre TFSI petrol engine, while the Sportback range is priced from £15,995.
The Black Edition version starts at £23,095 but the major minus point with the Audi brand is how costly options can be, and once you’ve totted it up you could have bought a much larger car for the price.
So would we have one? If you’re looking for a well built premium runaround then we would, but badge aside, the Seat Ibiza is just as good and from the Volkswagen group too.
The Audi A1 comes with a two-year/unlimited mileage warranty, with up to 60,000 miles in the third year and it is possible to be covered for up to 4 years/75,000 miles for £235.
It can’t be denied that Audi produce well built cars, materials are quality and well-finished, with the alcantara seats, soft perforated leather and high gloss finishes adding a stylish, nicely packaged design.
The Audi A1 is pretty reliable with no major issues or recalls and although regular maintenance and repair costs can be pricey, it has fared well in driver power surveys and it was named Car of the Year by What Car? back in 2011.
The Audi A1 got tested in the EuroNCAP safety ratings back in 2010 scoring the full five stars, with 90 % for adult occupant protection and 79% for a child.
The model we tested comes with driver, front passenger, front side and head airbags, a tyre pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control, Isofix child seat points and a secondary collision brake assist.
Security protection comes in the form of remote central locking and a Thatcham category 1 alarm and immobiliser.