Audi A1 Hatchback full 9 point review
The A1 is available with a range of turbo engines – a 1.2 and two 1.4-litre petrol units, plus 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. The 1.2 is best as a town car and the 1.6 diesel could be punchier, but the 1.4s and 2.0 diesel are fast and flexible, and make excellent cruisers. They all have a long top gear to keep the revs down – and the economy up – at higher speeds. The 1.4 is available with a twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
Ride & Handling
There are three trim levels, each one bringing firmer suspension and bigger wheels as you step up the range. The standard car is firm-ish, and while Sport models are edgier, they’re still comfortable. S line models take things too far, though. Whichever suspension you choose, the A1 is great fun through corners; it’s more agile than the rival Mini and grips harder too. Its steering also provides more feedback.
The diesel engines are decidedly gruff, but the petrols are pretty smooth and quiet enough unless thrashed. There’s plenty of road and suspension noise, by wind noise is kept out of the cabin at motorway speeds. An engine stop-start system is standard across the range and it works quickly and unobtrusively, while all the major controls (the brakes, clutch and gearbox) are precise and nicely weighted.
Safety & Security
The A1 gets six airbags as standard, which helped contribute to its five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, where it scored above average marks by class standards for adult protection. Disappointingly, you don’t get a tyre-pressure monitoring system as standard. However, you do get an alarm, which partly explains why the A1 fared well in Thatcham’s security tests.
Buying & Owning
The price of the entry-level car is attractive, and although the prices increase steeply as you progress up the range, resale values are among the best in the class: this is an extremely desirable little car. Efficient engines help towards excellent fuel consumption figures and low CO2 emissions, which keep running costs low.
Quality & Reliability
This might be the smallest, cheapest Audi, but it's far from a poor relation. There are squishy plastics in all the right areas, and the more rugged, durable stuff is kept largely out of sight. Even the switches and dials look and feel expensive. The A1 managed only average marks for reliability in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, however.
Behind The Wheel
Firm, supportive seats, lots of adjustment and an orderly dashboard with big, clear instruments – yes, this is a pure Audi. The windows aren’t very deep, but there's still plenty of glass area giving a good view out. A central control unit and screen give access to many of the car's functions, and it's easy to get used to.
Space & Practicality
This isn’t the A1’s forte. While there’s plenty of space up front and the boot is a decent size and shape, the rear seats are best for children due to the dramatically sloping roofline. The rear seatbacks are almost vertical, so may be uncomfortable on long journeys.
There are SE, Sport and S line trims, offering not only different levels of equipment, but also firmer suspension and bigger wheels as you progress up through the range, so you need to order carefully. SE models have alloys, air-con and a CD player, but you’re better off spending the extra on Sport, which adds Bluetooth, sports seats, and leather and aluminium trim. S line has part-leather upholstery and a bodykit. There are also plenty of personalisation options on all versions.