Used Audi A1 review: 2010-2019 (Mk1) - Engines, performance and drive

The Audi A1 is decent to drive, but rivals are much more fun. The Audi makes up for that with some great engines

Carbuyer Rating

3.5 out of 5

The Audi A1 is designed to feel like a bigger car than it really is – not in terms of parking and fitting through city streets, but in terms of comfort and quietness. It’s still as easy to drive as any other supermini, but since it has a high-quality interior and the petrol models are very quiet, it can seem more like a more expensive, larger model while you’re driving. That’s the best part about the A1’s driving experience.

What is the Audi A1 like to drive?

The Audi A1 is decent to drive, but it’s put to shame by its biggest rival, the MINI hatchback. It's less exciting to drive than the MINI, while the Ford Fiesta and DS 3 are also more fun, even if they don’t have the Audi’s upmarket feel. This is mainly because the Audi has numb steering and isn’t as grippy as its rivals in corners.

Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2022

Nevertheless, the A1's steering is responsive and it can be an enjoyable car to drive along a winding road. The suspension is quite firm on the SE model, but firmer still on the S Line trim, which can crash over bumps and is generally quite uncomfortable. Some owners will have chosen softer suspension but with the equipment of S Line trim, so look out for these when shopping around.

Which engine should I choose?

The Audi A1 with a small 1.0 or 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine offers the best blend of comfort and handling for Britain's bumpy roads – so these are the models we recommend. Acceleration from 0-62mph in the 1.0-litre TFSI takes 10.9 seconds but it's much quicker with the 1.4-litre TFSI, which takes 8.8 seconds.

The 94bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol is quiet and responsive, while the noise it makes doesn't intrude into the cabin too much. It delivers enough power to feel very nippy around town and is only sluggish if revs drop below 1,500rpm, where the turbo isn't as effective. Even then, the engine quickly picks up speed and remains quiet as you accelerate. The 1.2-litre petrol that was available on early models shares a lot of the 1.0-litre engine’s traits, so it’s also worth considering.

The 1.4-litre is quiet and smooth – it's the standout engine in the A1 range in performance terms. It’s neither as powerful nor as flexible as the three-cylinder engines in the MINI Cooper and DS 3, and though there was a more powerful version available for a short time, it’s not really worth seeking out.

The 1.6-litre diesel model manages 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds, but it doesn't feel as smooth as the petrols and is rather noisy. However, it makes more sense if you plan on making a lot of long motorway trips.

Most cars were available with a manual gearbox, which is easy to use and smooth, but there are plenty of versions that use a seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. The S tronic can shift gears very quickly and works well on the move, but can be a little jerky during low-speed manoeuvres.

The Audi S1 is a very different proposition. It's the only A1 fitted with Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system and has a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 228bhp. It launches itself to 62mph from rest in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. It’s fast and fun but not very comfortable.

Recommended

Audi A1 hatchback review
Audi A1 hatchback
Audi A1
10 Jan 2022

Audi A1 hatchback review

Used Audi A1 review: 2010-2019 (Mk1)
Used Audi A1 review: 2010 to 2019 (Mk1) - front
Audi A1 hatchback
10 Jan 2022

Used Audi A1 review: 2010-2019 (Mk1)

Top 10 best luxury small cars 2022
BMW 118 M Sport
Best cars
30 Jun 2021

Top 10 best luxury small cars 2022

Most Popular

UK road tax costs 2021/2022 explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Tips and advice
7 Jan 2022

UK road tax costs 2021/2022 explained

Best 0% APR car deals
Hyundai Bayon deals
Deals
5 Jan 2022

Best 0% APR car deals

Top 10 best cars for under £150 per month 2022
Renault Captur Iconic
Best cars
7 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cars for under £150 per month 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
1 Dec 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
27 Oct 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022