Audi A1 review

Find out more about the Audi A1 in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • - Great to drive
  • - Stylish interior and exterior
  • - Much more practical than before
  • Cons
  • - Expensive list price
  • - Disappointing interior quality in places
  • - Limited engine range
  • MPG
    57 - 58
  • CO2
    108 - 111 g/km
Model Review

 

When the new Mini first came onto the market in 2001, it brought with it a buzz for upmarket superminis. This was closely watched by manufacturers, although few jumped on the opportunity. Audi - a manufacturer never to avoid filling a niche – decided in 2010 that it was about time it joined the market with its first supermini, the A1.

 

Combining upmarket looks and stylish, a well-built interior and a compact design, it was little surprise that the junior Audi became a big hit.

 

First deliveries of the A1 started at the end of 2010, with the model available with a choice of two petrol engines and one diesel unit. Audi would expand this over the model’s lifetime – adding a 1.0-litre petrol engine, a more powerful 1.4-litre petrol as well as a 2.0-litre diesel.

 

Everything about the A1 was simply a compacted version of the firm’s larger models, which was precisely what most buyers were looking for.

 

A limited edition left-hand-drive A1 Quattro was launched in 2012, which led to the firm developing a powerful 227bhp hot hatch, called the S1.

Latest model

 

Audi pulled the wraps off a more mature, larger and safer second-generation A1 in June 2018. The manufacturer is not known for switching its models up in terms of design, so this particular model’s looks were rather a surprise.

 

The second-generation A1 is five-door only (the first model was available in three- and five-door guises) and it took inspiration from the firm’s past Quattro motorsport models with its bonnet slits and large air inlets.

 

Standard equipment was impressive, with all models coming with front and rear LED lights and autonomous emergency braking to name but a few. The engine choice at the time of writing was quite limited, with just a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine available in two states of tune. Further petrol engines are set to be added to the line-up, although the line-up is likely to remain diesel-free.

 

The second-generation A1 is 56mm longer than the car it replaces, which equates to both a larger boot and more interior space overall.

 

Value for money

 

The Audi A1 is pitched as a premium supermini, with prices to match. The entry-level new A1 now costs over £2,000 more than the model it replaces, although admittedly it comes with far more equipment.

 

New prices start from £18,540 and rise to £23,180 for the top-spec S line model. The starting price here is for the 114bhp petrol unit, so expect the starting price to lower when a lower-powered model joins the line-up.

 

Regardless, the standard equipment is impressive, with all models coming with LED headlights and rear lights, a smartphone interface, and an impressive 8.8-inch touchscreen. Though it is a bit disappointing that the A1 misses out on equipment such as cruise control and parking sensors on entry-level models.

 

Throughout the A1’s lifetime, the desirability factor kept prices high. It’s still rare to see early Audi A1s under £5,000, even eight years after the model first went on sale. Although just over £6,000 will get you a tidy example, with around 70,000 miles on the clock.

 

Even the last of the outgoing models have retained their value, with just a couple of thousand of pounds available off the list price for first-generation 2018 models.

 

At the time of writing, the second-generation model had only just reached showrooms, with no nearly-new models available on the used market. We predict these to retain their value in a similarly impressive fashion.

 

Looks and image

 

In the premium supermini class, image is everything so the new A1 has an equally tough battle to appeal to customers.

 

The new model isn’t quite as safely styled as the last model, but it has a lot going for it with its distinctive front grille, LED lights and a far sharper design than before. The aforementioned nods to Audi’s past motorsport models and will likely mean little to those buying them. But we think it works well. The main difference compared to the last model is the absence of a three-door model, which comes as part of Audi’s culling of three-door variants across its range to cut costs. This means that the A1 is now only offered in five-door Sportback guise, which is far more practical.

 

The interior is perhaps not as you might expect, with disappointing interior quality in places. Everything looks superb, with the standard-fit touchscreen which is fantastic to use, as well as a 10.25-inch digital cockpit. However, while the top of the dashboard is soft-touch and feels classy, the plastics on the door cards and center console feel disappointingly poor, and not quite what you expect from a car which sits at the top of its class in terms of price.

 

Thankfully it makes up for the interior quality once you’re behind the wheel. There are some fantastic cars to drive in the supermini class – the Mini, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, for example – and the A1 can now be added to this list. The steering has a pleasing weight to it, while it has a particularly composed ride for such a small car. Keen drivers might be left wanting a bit more performance, though.

Space and practicality

 

A lack of interior space was always a grumble with the last version, and thankfully the latest model has addressed this issue. Thanks to a longer wheelbase, the new model boasts much-improved boot and interior space compared to the last version. With 65 more litres in the boot to play with (a total of 335 litres), it’s far more useable than the last generation was. Folding the rear seats down increases the load space to 1,090 litres.

 

Another advantage to a stretched wheelbase is added passenger space. Rear seat space was always a gripe of the original A1, but the new model can easily accommodate two adults in the rear, although three would still be a bit of a push to fit in.

 

The latest A1 has not yet been tested by safety expert’s Euro NCAP, and therefore doesn’t have an official safety rating. However, the A1 comes with plenty of safety kit so there should be few concerns in this area. Standard safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as hill-hold assist and lane departure warning. The first-generation A1 received five stars in safety tests.

 

Engines

 

From launch, just one petrol engine is available – a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine producing 114bhp. It’s badged as the ’30 TFSI’ and is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission – meaning it can accelerate from 0-60mph in 9.3 seconds.

 

That said, further petrol engines are on the way – including a detuned 94bhp version of the aforementioned engine (25 TFSI) as well as a 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged engine (35 TFSI) and a range-topping 2.0-litre petrol unit with 197bhp. There are no plans for any diesel units to be fitted to the second-generation A1.

 

Running costs

 

Running costs should be low for the A1 and very similar to those you would find in the Seat Ibiza or Volkswagen Polo. The petrol engine can return a claimed 57.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 111g/km. While these aren’t the best figures in its class, it should still be cheap to run.

 

Younger drivers may need to be aware that the premium badging equates to higher insurance groups, and therefore more expensive premiums. The current engine starts from insurance group 19, although will reduce to 16 when the less powerful unit arrives. Unfortunately, this will make it more expensive to insure than a comparative Volkswagen Polo.

Things to look out for

 

The latest A1 has not been around for long enough to gauge any issues with it, so the focus here is primarily on the first-generation A1.

 

It doesn’t have an impressive reliability record as you might expect for a premium supermini, with main issues being with the diesel particulate filters (DPF) getting blocked up and causing problems for cars that don’t cover a lot of miles, while the front windows have also been known to get stuck on early models. Also, it’s worth being aware of buying the most powerful version of the 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine, as it’s known to consume a lot of oil.

 

Rivals

 

The Audi A1 sits in a very competitive class with posh superminis, despite not having that many direct rivals. The key cars it goes up against include the popular Mini hatchback, DS 3 and Volkswagen Polo, as well as the Fiat 500 which also appeals to style-conscious buyers. If you’re less fussed about badge and image, other very capable superminis include the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia and Mazda2.

 

Depreciation

 

The A1 will hold its value far better than many of its other rivals, such is the appeal and desirability of the car. First-generation models are still comparatively expensive to rivals, and the new model is likely to be no different. If depreciation is a key factory in your next car purchase, the A1 is a fantastic model that you won’t lose too much money on.

 

Which A1 to Pick

Trims Explained

Audi offers a simple trim level structure – made up of the SE, Sport and S line.

Black Edition

Black Edition can only be selected with the 1.6-litre diesel and higher output 1.4-litre petrol.

This elite trim also adds large, 18-inch alloys, light and rain sensors, leather/Alcantara seats and electronic climate control.

Summary

  1. Laden with tech
  2. Stylish looks
  3. Interior quality not up to scratch in places
  4. High list price
  5. Limited engine choice
  6. Hugely improved interior space
  7. Holds its value well
  8. Excellent safety kit
  9. Lots of standard equipment
  10. A great supermini, but a pricey one