Used Audi A1 buying guide: 2012-present (Mk1)

The A1 is a supermini with the build quality of an executive saloon, which should hold its value despite high prices

Some traditional car makers might be struggling, but Audi keeps expanding and breaking targets, launching models in every segment, from small cars most people can afford to luxury exotics.

What’s really impressive is the fact they all seem to be built to the same level of engineering excellence. Take the Audi A1, for example: it boasts the same fit and finish as a luxury salon like the Audi A6, which costs more than twice as much.

Arriving in 2010, the three-door A1 was available with a 1.6-litre TDI diesel or 1.2 and 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engines, fitted with a manual gearbox and making up to 120bhp. However, this was soon to be increased to 182bhp by a version with an S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.

What is the best Audi A1 version?

For low running costs, the 1.6-litre TDI only emitted 105g/km of CO2 at launch, and this was reduced even further to 99g/km by mid-2011, making it road-tax-exempt.

The five-door A1 Sportback model arrived in spring 2012 and instantly became desirable, with added practicality, along with the introduction of a powerful and thrifty 2.0-litre TDI.

Also highly sought-after is the 1.4-litre Cylinder-on-Demand (CoD) 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.

Running costs

There’s no engine to particularly avoid, with every model in the A1 line-up promising decent fuel economy and low running costs. Even the automatic has almost no fuel or emissions penalty compared to the manual versions thanks to its dual-clutch design, which also allows very fast gearchanges.

Being an Audi, the A1 is also well equipped, with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, height-adjustable front seats and even a stereo with eight speakers – an impressive number for a small supermini. Sport models have a racier look thanks to a bodykit and lowered suspension, along with sports seats and an improved multimedia system, with its own controls on the steering wheel. The desirable S line models stand out with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED cabin lighting and a black roof liner.

Another potential rival is the Fiat 500, particularly in sporty Abarth 500 guise, which is fun to drive, cute and desirable, but put the two cars together and the A1 is more practical and feels much more expensive.

Should I buy one?

The A1 certainly comes highly recommended, taking the title Best Small Luxury Car at the 2011 Carbuyer Awards and Best Premium Supermini at sister site Auto Express' New Car Awards in the same year.

These aren't the only awards won by Audi's smallest car, and it's easy to see why, as the company has successfully fitted the design, engineering and technology values of its luxury models into a far smaller car.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest issue for used buyers is that the Audi A1 is expensive to buy secondhand, but if you do take the plunge, this should also work in your favour when it comes time for you to sell to another buyer.

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