I am of the firm belief that if you took all the variants of all the Audi cars on sale today and lined them up, they would girdle the earth; there’s that much choice from the German brand’s catalogue. At the start of the line observers will see the tiny Audi A1. According to a dictionary (Yup. Still using one), A1 means ‘Very good or well. Excellent’. If a ship is described as A1 it means it is equipped to the highest standard. The definition applies here.
A1 is also one of the longest arterial roads in Great Britain, the primary use for which is for people to practise doing roadworks for months on end. If you do get stuck in traffic on the A1 then it is a good idea to be stuck in an Audi because they are beautifully appointed and very comfortable.
Not cheap mind. The diminutive motor on this test was a Sport model and although it had some options on it, unusually for a press car it was not overwhelmed by them (there’s a specification sheet below). The seats were not electrically adjustable for example. We had to do it ourselves! Despite this the motor cost almost £25k which is a lot to pay for a supermini. Further customisation (and there’s plenty on offer) will just increase the final bill.
Outside The Audi A1
This doesn’t seem to matter. Buyers are flocking to it. You get what you pay for I guess and for a small car the Audi A1 is elegant and sophisticated. Dressed in my images in a smart Nano Grey suit with a contrasting silver roof line, there is no sign of its close relationship to the VW Polo. Attractive two-tone 17” alloys complete the ensemble.
The test car was a three-door which meant the usual clamber to get into the back seats. You can get a five-door but I personally think the car loses some of its style in that format. I’d go for the three-door model and, if I really needed five doors, I would step up to the A3.
Inside the Audi A1
It seems superfluous to describe the interior in detail. It’s an Audi so you are already familiar with it as you can see in my snaps. Very comfortable and supportive seats embellished with leather and Alcantara. There’s the to-be-expected soft-touch dashboard materials and even more leather dotted around the cabin.
Plenty of the latest technology, natch, and good sounds from the speakers. There is not much on the market to challenge Audi’s premium class interior and it just feels so expensive when behind the wheel.
The Audi A1 is designed as a four-seater and like many in this segment, it is cramped in the back. With the driving seat set perfectly for me, an adult could not sit behind. I would have to drive with my knees up around my ears to accommodate a lanky sort. Okay for the ankle-biters but this is not a family car.
The boot isn’t the biggest in class at 210L so overall I reckon this is an ideal little car for two with the occasional passenger catered for.
Driving The Audi A1
You’ll pay a big premium for the admittedly very economical 1.6L diesel but I wouldn’t bother frankly, particularly in this day and age. There’s a feisty 2.0L quattro if more pizazz is required and a less powerful 1.4L petrol version but in my opinion the best of the Audi A1 engine choices is the 1.0L TFSI petrol unit with 94bhp as driven here.
Sure, 0-62mph takes 11.0 seconds but it is a revvy, lively and refined engine that makes the car fun to drive. It has enough grunt to keep up with the motorway rush and for most buyers should be the engine of choice. Choose from a manual or an auto box. We had the auto with paddle shifts and, in Sport mode, made the most of that 94bhp. Thus, fuel consumption was just under 40mpg but, as mentioned, I was enjoying the drive.
Some say that the ride is too firm but for me it is just right. I really enjoyed piloting this small hatchback around the local highways and byways. The suspension (it varies with model choice, the softest being on SE versions) keeps the Audi A1 well controlled in the corners and there’s minimal lean. The steering, although inevitably lacking feel, is accurate and light, making parking a doddle.
So, good to drive and easy to park, the Audi A1 is a sophisticated, albeit expensive, choice in the supermini marketplace. I appreciated the overall quality of construction and materials and liked it very much. Approved. Geoff Maxted