Audi A1 hatchback review
"Sporty-looking A1 offers the full Audi experience distilled into a supermini package"
- Stylish looks
- Sophisticated interior
- Practical design
- Limited engine choice
- Some patchy materials
- Steep price curve
The second generation Audi A1 almost has the luxury supermini class to itself. Its only direct rival is the MINI hatchback, with the style-led Fiat 500 existing as a less luxurious and smaller, but less expensive alternative too. Some buyers may also compare the A1 with other high-spec superminis like the Vignale versions of the Ford Fiesta, or small SUVs like the DS 3 Crossback and Peugeot 2008.
The original A1 came out in 2010 and stood out in a market full of mainstream small hatchbacks with its small, yet premium package. Nowadays, though, the premium feel of even the most humdrum cars has improved significantly, meaning cars like the Volkswagen Polo feel higher quality inside and out, and rivals like the Hyundai i20 and Ford Fiesta deliver in terms of driver appeal.
By the end of its life the original A1 started to feel a little dated against competitors, but the latest iteration looks more modern despite having been on sale for a few years now. It also offers more practicality than the previous model and is now only available in a five-door Sportback configuration. This makes sense for a small family car, making the interior more usable, spacious and easier to access.
Audi’s aim was to make the A1 the car to beat in the premium supermini class. It's created a supermini that excels in terms of comfort and its interior, with cutting-edge style to boot. In fact, with three slots above a frameless six-sided grille designed to evoke memories of the Audi Quattro, the humble A1 is arguably among the sportiest looking cars Audi makes today.
There are sharp lines pressed into the bonnet and notable protruding shoulders above the front and rear wheel arches. These are products of the same design language used on the Audi A5 Coupe and Audi Q8 SUV, showing that premium touches aren’t just the preserve of the higher end of Audi’s range.
The cutting-edge interior style of more expensive Audi models has rubbed off on the A1, with the same bold horizontal lines as seen in the hi-tech Audi A8 luxury saloon. It may not have the multi-screen layout of more expensive models, but the standard digital dashboard and option of a glossy 10.1-inch MMI infotainment screen put the A1 at the forefront of the supermini class in technology terms. You'll find automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning fitted as standard too.
Three petrol engines are on offer but there’s no diesel option. The 109bhp 1.0-litre 30 TFSI is claimed to return around 53mpg, which is very competitive with the A1’s rivals. Either side of that is a 94bhp version of the 1.0-litre, badged 25 TFSI, plus a 1.5-litre 35 TFSI with 148bhp. A 2.0-litre 40 TFSI with 204bhp was previously offered in S line Competition trim, rivalling the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST, but has since been discontinued.
With an adequate, if not sparkling, 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds, the 30 TFSI should suit most A1 customers, especially with the smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic gearbox.
We expect the best value to be found towards the bottom end of the A1 range – while the eye-catching S line has even more visual presence, the Sport is a great-looking car in its own right, and is far smoother on the road than the more firmly set up S line. Alternatively, the Technik is even more subtle to look at, and only really misses out on parking sensors and sports seats. You'll not find any A1 wanting for standard equipment, with alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, a digital dashboard, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fitted across the range.
Safety is excellent, as proven by a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating. Audi will likely be disappointed with the A1’s 72nd place in our 2022 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Owners were disappointed with its ride and handling and the quality of its interior, although it scored highly for the smoothness of its gearbox. Its desirability and upmarket image is the main draw for some buyers, even if the closely related Volkswagen Polo offers many of the Audi’s strong points at a much lower price.
What about buying a used or nearly new Audi A1?
You could save some money by choosing a used A1 instead of buying new, especially as the engine range is quite limited. This is because you’re more likely to be able to find the model you want as a used example (although you’ll need to keep an eye on which option packs have been added). Residual values for the Audi A1 sit at around 50 per cent depending on which model you want – S Line models appear to hold their value best.
What’s its history?
The Audi A1 arrived in 2010, so it’s a relative newcomer to the premium-supermini world. The rival MINI hatch has been around much longer, for example. The previous Mk1 car was available from 2010 until the current car arrived in 2018, with a facelift in 2014 to keep the model fresh, and a sport S1 variant with four-wheel drive was added to the range, too.
The current model arrived in 2018, and while there’s no S1 version, it featured sportier looks and more modern technology. There was also a version called the Citycarver, offering a more comfortable, raised ride paired with SUV-inspired looks.
Used Audi A1 (Mk1 2010-2019)
The Mk1 Audi A1 and A1 Sportback are still really popular as a used car because the styling has aged very well, and the interior still has a level of quality that sets it apart from rivals of a similar age. Like the current car, it’s not as fun or as comfortable as a MINI, but it’s a bit more practical and is easy to drive, efficient and has a decent level of equipment.
Read the full review of the Audi A1 Mk1 here...
Which Is Best?
- Name25 TFSI SE 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name25 TFSI SE 5dr
- Gearbox typeManual
- Name40 TFSI 207 S Line Competition 5dr S Tronic
- Gearbox typeSemi-auto