Used Audi A1 review: 2010 to 2019 (Mk1)
“The Audi A1 is a small car with many qualities that remind us of larger, more expensive models”
- Classy and high-quality interior
- Efficient and punchy engines
- Holds its value well
- High prices next to other superminis
- Not that much fun to drive
- Uncomfortable ride
The Audi A1 is a really popular small car, and it’s easy to see why: it offers some of the attributes of larger, more expensive Audi models in a smaller, more affordable package. It has a high-quality and fashionable interior that has stood the test of time, plus it’s efficient, has a good range of engines and is decent to drive, if not as fun as its main rival - the MINI hatch.
You should consider an Audi A1 if you want a small car that’s upmarket, holds its value well and won’t cost a lot to buy and run. It’s more expensive than a Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa, but the strong residuals help to mitigate that and those models don’t come close in terms of interior quality.
The Audi A1 is a supermini, which means it’s smaller than a family hatch such as a Volkswagen Golf but not quite as tiny as a city car like a Volkswagen Up. It sets itself apart from many other superminis by targeting more affluent buyers - at least when it was new.
The first-generation Audi A1 we’re looking at here arrived in 2010. It was a response from Audi to the success of BMW’s MINI brand, which brought upmarket car traits to more mainstream customers, and it used tech from Audi’s sister brand Volkswagen (namely from the Polo supermini).
Other superminis include the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa, although the Audi is more expensive than those models; it justifies its price with a high-quality interior with plenty of tech. Using its know-how from building executive models, Audi has given the A1 an impeccable cabin that long-distance drivers are sure to appreciate, with only the MINI rivaling its upmarket feel.
The four rings on the A1’s grille have also imbued it with excellent resale values, so you should at least get more of your initial investment back when it comes time to sell. Audi’s supermini comes with three doors as standard, but the five-door Audi A1 Sportback is also available. Since it’s virtually identical, all our points in this buying guide apply to both models.
What’s the history of the Audi A1?
There are only two versions of the Audi A1: the Mk1 we’re discussing here, which arrived in 2010, and the currently-on-sale Mk2 model that replaced it in 2018.
The model that came out in 2010 came with either a 1.2 or 1.4-litre TFSI petrol or a 1.6-litre TDI diesel. After a short time an automatic gearbox was made available on the 1.4-litre model, and then in 2012 the five-door Sportback model was added to the range, followed by a powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine.
In 2014 the car was updated with a slightly different look, more equipment and a new 1.0-litre petrol engine that replaced the old 1.2-litre motor. There were more automatic models available from this date onwards, too. Also in 2014 a hot hatchback version called the S1 was launched.
Which is the best Audi A1 to choose?
While we’d recommend a petrol for most drivers, if you drive serious miles each year, the 1.6-litre diesel could work out cheaper thanks to its 76.3mpg fuel economy. The five-door A1 Sportback model is great for its added practicality, so it’s the better of the two body styles.
Also highly sought-after is the 1.4-litre Cylinder-on-Demand model with 138bhp, which arrived in 2013 and has the ability to run on just two of its four cylinders when you're light on the throttle, saving fuel. Since it’s a petrol engine, it makes sense for those doing a lot of local trips rather than motorway driving.
The A1 is well equipped, and all models get alloy wheels, air-conditioning, height-adjustable front seats and even a stereo with eight speakers – impressive for a small supermini. Sport models have a racier look, along with sports seats and an improved multimedia system, with its own controls on the steering wheel. S line models stand out with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED cabin lighting and a black roof liner. Go for whichever model has the equipment you want, but mid-spec cars seem the best value for money.
What are the alternatives?
There are lots of alternatives to the Audi A1. The most obvious rivals are the MINI hatch and Volkswagen Polo, which have a more upmarket image just like the Audi. There’s also the Fiat 500, which isn’t as practical but also has a stylish image, and the DS 3, another more upmarket model that was more expensive when new.
Other superminis to consider include the great-value Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, or the Hyundai i20, Peugeot 208 and SEAT Leon. There are lots of superminis available depending on your budget, so a higher-spec version of a car that cost less than the Audi A1 when new might be a more prudent purchase.
Audi A1 Mk1 video reviews
Audi A1 Mk1
Audi A1 Sportback Mk1
Audi A1 Sportback Mk1 (facelift)
Audi S1 Mk1