Review

Audi A1 hatchback

Price  £14,530 - £25,595

Audi A1 hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Understated, stylish design
  • Powerful, efficient engines
  • Classy, upmarket interior
Cons
  • Ride can be a little uncomfortable
  • MINI is more fun to drive
  • Pricey to buy

At a glance

The greenest
1.0 TFSI SE 95PS 3dr £14,530
The cheapest
1.0 TFSI SE 95PS 3dr £14,530
The fastest
2.0 TFSI 231PS quattro 3dr £25,595
Top of the range
2.0 TFSI 231PS quattro 3dr £25,595

“Quite simply, the Audi A1 is the classiest supermini you can buy, with loads of technology and a stylish, high-quality interior.”

The Audi A1 brings a dash of upmarket sophistication to the supermini class. Its interior feels light years ahead of many of its rivals’, with a quality finish and technology you’d normally expect to find in an executive saloon. 

Granted, you have to pay more for the privilege of owning an A1 than you would for say, a Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa or Volkswagen Polo, but such is the step up in quality over these rivals, it feels worth it. The A1 is more likely to hold on to its value, too.

There's a range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which offer a good balance between performance, refinement and fuel efficiency. If you do loads of miles – especially on the motorway – then a diesel is worth considering. If not, stick to a petrol: it’ll cost less to run than a diesel if you’re doing less than about 12,000 miles a year. 

Our favourite is the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, which emits just 97g/km of CO2 and will return 67.3mpg on average. That low CO2 figure means it's exempt from road tax and, if you’re a business user, you’ll only be liable for 14% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax. This engine's 94bhp is enough to get the A1 from 0-62mph in a respectable 10.9 seconds and it feels perfectly at home on the motorway and in town. 

One area where the A1 isn’t quite as impressive as some of its rivals is from behind the wheel. It's perfectly competent, but lacks the dynamic sparkle of the Ford Fiesta or the comfort of the Skoda Fabia. The ride is too firm and the steering feels a little vague – especially compared to its seriously talented competitors.

If you’re after an A1, our favourite of the three trims available – SE, Sport and S line – is the mid-range Sport. SE comes with most of the equipment you need, while Sport adds a few bits and bobs that you may want (although you’ll want to deselect the far-too-firm Sport suspension). This includes things like iPod USB connectivity, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a leather steering wheel and some aluminium interior trim. 

Most people will find the range-topping A1 S line, with its large alloy wheels and standard sports suspension, too firm for the UK's poor-quality road surfaces. 

In terms of safety, there shouldn’t be any worries, as crash-testing body Euro NCAP gave the A1 its full five-star rating in 2010. All models get six airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic traction and stability control. All A1s also get a tyre-pressure monitoring system and a function that applies the brakes in the event of a crash to prevent a secondary collision.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.2 / 5

The Audi A1 is impressively cheap to run, but not class-leading

Engines, drive & performance

3.5 / 5

The Audi A1 offers decent performance and competent handling

Interior & comfort

3.6 / 5

The Audi A1 has a premium interior, but the sports suspension is uncomfortable

Practicality & boot space

3.2 / 5

The Audi A1 has a bigger boot than the MINI

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

Five-star crash rating, with impressive technology and great build quality

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"As small as a MINI, as well built as a Bentley – the Audi A1 is the upmarket supermini that proves good things really do come in the smallest packages."
4 / 5
"The A1 doesn't handle as well as the MINI, which feels more balanced and agile in the corners, but it would be a crime to overlook the Audi for those less obsessed by ultimate driving finesse."
8 / 10
"The A1 is a proper Audi in pocket-sized hatchback form."
4 / 5
"The Audi A1 has supreme build quality, luxury and technology to match the Mini – and a proper-sized boot. But the styling is conservative and driving experience uninspiring."
What owners say 
4.156640007019
4.2 /5 based on 125 reviews
62%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
25 Aug 2015
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