A1 Sportback driving front three-quarter

Audi A1 review

Review continues below...

It’s a tough job, branding. A strong brand helps sell cars, and the more cars sold, the more money is made. And, if the reason people are buying those cars is because of a brand’s prestige, then dilute it at your peril: you risk chinking away at its charms.

BMW manages this balancing act rather well by offering bespoke brands: Roll-Royce at one end and Mini at the other; its core brand fills the gaping gap in between.

Audi, on the other hand, is happy to call a spade a spade and stick its name on a broader spectrum of cars, and the A1 became its smallest car yet when it debuted in 2010. Audi's baby wore the famous four rings proudly, and to make sure there was no brand dilution, it was bestowed with cutesy looks and an interior so upmarket that the Queen could’ve held court in it. Sure, underneath it was based on the Volkswagen Polo, but to admiring onlookers and owners alike, there was no question: the A1 was a proper Audi.

Time to see if Audi can pull off the same trick twice. This is the second generation of the A1, and as before it’s based on Polo underpinnings. This time, though, it faces a stronger army of rivals than ever before, from its Polo cousin to its arch nemesis, the Mini 5dr. The current Ford Fiesta and our favourite small car, the Seat Ibiza, make compelling propositions, too.

So, is the A1 still upmarket enough to justify spending a premium on it? Read on to find out, and afterwards head to our New Car Buying page to check out the stonking deals we have on all new small cars.

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