On the face of it, the Audi A1 is not a cheap small car; its prices definitely sit a notch above those of the VW Polo, let alone the Ford Fiesta or any of the more mainstream opposition. However, it is priced broadly in line with most Minis – especially if you take our advice and pick one of the more modest trim levels from the A1 line-up.
The good news is that the A1’s resale values are strong. If you’re buying the car outright, this means you can look forward to getting a decent percentage of your purchase price back when you sell the car on in, say, three years. This trend is also reflected in the A1’s finance offers, which look particularly appealing; it’s a strong proposition on the types of PCP deals that are so popular in the small car market.
On paper, the cheapest petrol A1 to run is the 1.0-litre three-cylinder model, since it emits less than 100g/km of CO2 (with a manual gearbox). The 1.4-litre TFSI’s emissions are still respectable, although you just need to bear in mind that the figures go up as you bump up the wheel sizes.
The 1.4 TFSI 125 scored an impressive 46.9mpg in our True MPG real-world fuel economy test, which wasn’t too far off the official figure. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the 1.4 were actually a little more economical than the 1.0 in everyday use, simply because you don’t have to rev the engine as hard.
Curiously, the higher-powered 1.4 is actually more efficient again; this is because it’s a more sophisticated engine that can shut down cylinders on the fly to save fuel when you’re cruising along.
Almost all diesel A1s emit less than 100g/km of CO2; you have to choose an automatic version on 18in wheels before it nudges above the magic figure.
Depending on the type of driving you do, service intervals can be up to every two years or 19,000 miles. Also, it’s well worth considering the Audi Service Plan, which covers the cost of routine servicing for five years or 50,000 miles.
Audi A1 Hatchback equipment
Even entry-level SE versions come with a reasonably generous equipment list, including alloy wheels, air-con and a DAB radio. You won’t feel short-changed with that, although we’d be tempted to fork out for Bluetooth phone connectivity. That comes as standard on Sport – along with a few other niceties such as a leather steering wheel and a driver’s information display between the instrument dials – so this is our preferred trim level.
The extra kit brought by S line and Black Edition trims is mainly focused on styling, so unless you’re really keen to have a sporty-looking A1, we think you’re better off saving your cash and spending it on a Sport model plus a few personalisation options, such as the contrast roof colour.
Audi A1 Hatchback reliability
The Audi A1 has been around for a while and it uses a well-tried set of components that’s shared across many models from VW, Seat and Skoda – but that hasn’t yet been reflected in the car’s reliability data. In our most recent survey, A1 owners reported a slightly higher number of problems than the average for a small car – and the baby Audi lagged behind rivals such as the Mini, and was some way adrift of the DS 3.
Audi as a brand doesn’t fare any better; in our latest set of reliability results, it was down towards the bottom of the manufacturers featured.
Audi’s warranty covers unlimited mileage in the first two years and up to 60,000 miles in the third year. The company offers extended warranties lasting four years and 75,000 miles or five years and 90,000 miles as optional extras.
Audi A1 Hatchback safety & security
Every A1 comes with lots of safety kit, including six airbags, stability control, Isofix child seat-mounting points on the rear seats, and a tyre pressure-monitoring system.
The A1 has yet to go through the latest, tougher crash tests from Euro NCAP, but it scored pretty highly when it was tested back in 2010. It received the maximum five stars, scoring 90% for adult occupant protection, 79% for child occupant protection and 49% in the pedestrian impact test. These figures are all slightly better than those scored by the DS 3, which was put through the same generation of Euro NCAP test.
By contrast, the latest Mini was awarded four stars in the tougher Euro NCAP examination in 2014, with ratings of 79% for adult protection, 73% for child protection and 66% for pedestrian protection.
Security kit is also comprehensive, and includes an alarm and engine immobiliser. Security experts Thatcham awarded all versions top marks for resisting being stolen, and four out of five for resisting being broken into.
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Entry-level SE trim gets a decent amount of standard equipment, including air-con, a 6.5in colour infotainment screen and a DAB radio. There are a couple of caveats to bear in mind, though; you’ll have to pay extra for Bluetooth, and there’s the choice of just two engines – the 1.0-litre petrol or the 1.6 diesel, neither of which are our pick of the range. This is a decent entry point to the A1 line-up, but there are better options if you can afford the extra.
Our pick Sport
This is our preferred trim level in the A1 and A1 Sportback ranges. It adds Bluetooth, a leather-covered steering wheel, sports seats (including lumbar adjustment) and aluminium interior highlights to the SE’s kit roster. You also get stiffer suspension, which is a bit too firm for our liking – but you can revert to the SE’s softer set-up as a no-cost option. Sport trim is also available with our favourite engine, the 1.4 TFSI 125.
One of the most extreme of the A1’s regular trim levels, S line brings sports-focused styling modifications rather than a much longer standard equipment list. You get a bodykit, 17in alloy wheels, part-leather sports seats and xenon headlights. It has an even stiffer suspension set-up than Sport – although again, you can go for the softer SE settings at no cost. We don’t think there’s enough extra useful kit here to warrant the additional charge over an A1 Sport, so we’d give it a miss.
Based on S Line, this even pricier trim brings adds alloys, Alcantara sports seats, climate control and plenty of bespoke styling touches. The cheaper trims make far more sense financially, though.
The fastest Audi A1 and A1 Sportback of all comes with plenty of standard equipment, including a sporty-looking bodykit, xenon headlights, aluminium flourishes on the door mirrors, part-leather sports seats, climate control, and automatic lights and wipers. It also gets two seats in the rear, regardless of whether you order an S1 or an S1 Sportback.