What Car? Car of the Year awards 2011 - Supermini winner

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  • 17 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2011 revealed
What Car? Awards 2012 website

The winner
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport
List price £15,670 Target Price £15,670
We know that Audi can create brilliant sporty cars such as the TT and the R8. We also know that it can create sumptuous interiors such as the one in the new A8.

Now the Audi A1 proves that Audi can cram all that expertise into a car that’s as affordable as an average city runabout. It’s an outstanding achievement.

In many ways, the A1 is the best example of ‘downsizing’ we can think of. Although it’s Audi’s cheapest model, there’s no sense that corners have been cut. Don’t listen to any ‘Oh, it’s just a Polo in fancy dress’ doubters.

Yes, the two cars share the same underpinnings but, as good as the Polo is, the A1 has a very different feel and comes across as every inch a bespoke premium product.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the cabin. From the driver’s seat, the A1 does an uncannily good impression of a TT, with a sporty design, perfect driving position and precise, solid controls. It’s similarly classy, too, with build quality and materials that put it in a different league from any other supermini on the market.

The A1’s sporty character shines through the moment you turn the key. Our favourite model – the 1.4 TFSI Sport – has a fruity but civilised exhaust note that sets the tone for an intoxicating blend of hot hatch-style fun and prestige-brand refinement.

Every journey is a hoot, thanks to the A1’s agile handling and responsive steering, not to mention a turbocharged 120bhp engine that’s remarkably strong and flexible. True, the firmer suspension that comes with the Sport trim means the ride is on the hard side, but when the end result is a car that’s this engaging to drive, it’s a small price to pay.

Inside, all is calm, thanks to a smooth engine and a cabin that’s quiet at all speeds. There’s space for four people and their luggage, even if rear headroom is rather tight and you do need to travel light.

At £15,670, our favourite A1 is great value and makes sound financial sense to run. It has an official average fuel consumption of more than 50mpg and CO2 emissions of just 124g/km, and we expect the A1 will hold its value even better than its arch-rival, the Mini. Surprised? Don’t be – the A1 is the top of the pile in so many ways.

What Car? Car of the Year awards 2011 - Small family car contenders


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