Audi A1 Hatchback full 9 point review
The A1 is available with four engines – a 1.0 and two 1.4-litre petrol, plus a 1.6-litre diesel. A decidedly more powerful 2.0-litre petrol motor is exclusive to the S1. The 1.0 makes for a very decent run-around, although either 1.4 is better suited to motorway journeys. The diesel is keen enough and a popular choice, but it makes for a noisier companion. All engines are available with Audi’s excellent 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. Even the standard car is firm-ish, and probably recommended over the edgier Sport and S line models. Whichever suspension you choose, the A1 is a decent prospect to drive and while the steering isn’t up to much, there's more than enough grip to compliment the car's small size. The much-changed S1 is a predictable step up.
The 1.0 petrol reveals a raspy voice when revved hard, and the 1.6 diesel is gruff almost from idle, but Audi does a fine job of keeping the worst of each in check. It’s a similar story with road and suspension noise, which is noticeable, although probably superior to most of its rival in the supermini class. The S1's exhaust note is more gravelly, which is as it should be.
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 economy and CO2 emission figures, 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 buttons look and feel expensive. The A1 managed only average marks for reliability in the most recent JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, however.
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.
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.
The trim choice is simple enough: SE, Sport and S line being the Audi norm. Alloys and air con are provided at the entry-level, but we’d recommend you buy the Sport, which adds Bluetooth and sports seats. Firmer suspension is also a feature, although switching to the softer SE setup is a no-cost option – and an adaptive system is also available at extra cost (it's standard if you opt for the S1). There are plenty of personalisation options on all versions.