A1 Sportback driving front three-quarter

Audi A1 Sportback review

Cost & verdict
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In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Audi A1 hatchback running costs

Compared against its Polo sibling, you’ll pay a hefty price premium to own an A1 and, as you’ll read below, get a lot fewer toys to boot. It’s cheaper than the equivalent Mini 5dr, though. Better news, though, is the A1's promise of dramatically higher resale values. In fact, it has the lowest depreciation in the class.

Strong residuals do wonders for competitive PCP finance, so it's no surprise that the A1 offers decent monthly payments. Take an A1 1.0 TFSI 115 Sport as an example, which is far cheaper than an equivalent Mini 5dr Cooper. Bear in mind, though, that a Polo 1.0 TSI 115 SE L is slightly cheaper per month than the A1 while being more generously equipped.

The 114bhp 1.0 TFSI engine is pretty thrifty with fuel and is claimed to better the MPG you can expect from the Mini 5dr 1.5 Cooper, according to manufacturer figures. If you’re a company car user, the A1’s lower CO2 emissions will deliver cheaper monthly tax payments, too. However, if you can live without the Audi badge, you can get your tax even lower by going for the cheaper and even more economical Polo 1.0 TSI 115.

Servicing costs for the A1 over three years are quite competitive for the class and will cost you less than for a Mini Cooper.

Audi A1 hatchback equipment

As we alluded to above, don’t expect much in the way of standard equipment for your money.

The entry-level SE has the essentials only, with 15in alloy wheels and manual air conditioning rather than climate control.

We’d trade up to Sport, because you get bigger 16in alloy wheels (which don’t ruin the ride), cruise control and the rear parking sensors we mentioned in the visibility section. Sport trim also offers more option choices, and we reckon it’s worth adding climate control and power-folding door mirrors. If you like the idea of front parking sensors and heated front seats, why not go for the Comfort and Sound Pack? It adds both, plus a great sounding B&O sound system, for a combined price that’s barely any more than the cost of the individual options.

Range-topping S line versions are all about sportiness, with bigger wheels, more aggressive looks and sports suspension.

Audi A1 Sportback side profile

Audi A1 hatchback reliability

Contrary to what you might think, the word ‘Audi’ isn’t the panacea for reliability that you might imagine it to be. In the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, the brand finished 20th out of 31 manufacturers – above Mini but below Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Hyundai and Kia.

So, what cover does Audi give you if things go wrong? The answer is the exact same package as Volkswagen: an unlimited-mileage warranty for the first two years, followed by a third year in which the mileage is capped at 60,000 miles.

Audi A1 hatchback safety and security

At the time of writing, Euro NCAP hadn’t crash tested an A1 to gauge how safe it is. We’ll let you know when it has, but we've every reason to expect it to score at least as highly as the Polo, with which it shares a physical platform. 

As standard, the A1 comes with a brace of airbags, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance to nudge you back into line if you drift on the motorway. However, while available on other small cars, useful safety aids such as blindspot monitoring and traffic sign assist aren't offered on the A1.

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Verdict

Overall, the A1 is a darned fine car. At least, the version we’ve driven so far is, being comfortable and tidy to drive and reasonably roomy, while it should be no more expensive to run than non-premium rivals. However, while it offers a better premium small car package than the Mini 5dr, the Volkswagen Polo has all the same virtues, plus it’s roomier and has a slightly smarter interior. Oh yes, and more equipment, for a much lower price tag. So while the A1 is a very good small car, it’s hard to see what, other than those four rings on its bonnet, you’re getting for your extra cash.

  • Smooth ride and tidy handling
  • Relatively quiet at higher speeds
  • Rock-solid resale values
  • Poorly equipped
  • Mini feels much plusher inside
  • Volkswagen Polo offers more for less money
Trims
There are 6 trims available for the A1 hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
SE
Entry-level SE trim is pretty sparse. Highlights include LED headlights, electric windo...View trim
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Sport
This is our recommendation, because it adds 16in alloy wheels (which don’t ruin the rid...View trim
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S Line
S line is basically about bigger (17in) alloy wheels and more aggressive looks, as well...View trim
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S Line Competition
This is an S line with the addition of platinum grey 17in alloy wheels and door mirrors...View trim
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S Line Style Edition
This is an S line with the addition of bronze 18in alloy wheels, darkened LED headlight...View trim
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S Line Contrast Edition
This is an S line with the addition of anthracite 18in alloy wheels, contrasting roof a...View trim
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