Audi A1 hatchback driving position
While the Mini can annoy with its offset pedals, there’s no such bother in the A1: seat, steering wheel and pedals are all as well aligned as a team of synchronised swimmers.
There's a broad range of height and reach movement for the steering wheel, but the driver's seat won't go quite low enough to suit everybody, despite the presence of a height adjuster. If you want adjustable lumbar support, you must stretch to mid-spec Sport trim. This issue aside, there’s very nearly as much scope for fine-tuning your driving position as you’ll find in the Fiesta.
The simple dashboard controls include physical buttons to deal with all the ventilation and heating functions, rather than the fiddly touch-sensitive buttons that some of the A1's rivals employ. You also get digital instruments as standard, in place of regular analogue dials, with the option to upgrade the standard 10.25in screen for a more configurable version by adding the rather pricey Technology Pack. Speaking of extras, you have to pay more for an adjustable front centre armrest on all trims; something that seems a touch miserly on what’s claimed to be a premium product.
Audi A1 hatchback visibility
Thanks to comparatively skinny front windscreen pillars, it’s easy to see forwards out of the A1. Rearward visibility is less impressive, due to the A1’s thick rear pillars and angled rear screen. Both the Polo and Mini 5dr have a wider expanse of glass at the back, for a clearer view out when reversing.
The restricted rear view is less of a problem if you go for an A1 in Sport trim or above, because rear parking sensors are fitted as standard. Front parking sensors and a rear-view camera are optional on all versions.
LED headlights are a fitted to every A1 – all the better for illuminating those dark winter evenings.
Audi A1 hatchback infotainment
All models come with an 8.8in touchscreen that’s positioned high in the dashboard, so you shouldn’t have trouble seeing or reaching it. That said, it’s a touchscreen, so hitting the right screen icon is almost impossible without a quick glance away from the road. The Mini’s iDrive rotary controller is much easier and less distracting to use, but at least the A1’s infotainment icons are easy to identify and respond promptly.
It’s a well kitted-out system, with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring on every trim (the latter lets you use selected smartphone apps, including its sat-nav, from the touchscreen).
Add the pricey Technology Pack and the screen grows to 10.1in, plus you get a lot more features, including in-built sat-nav, a handwriting pad (which you can use to enter postcodes), a 36-month subscription to Audi Connect (which enables use of online features such as Google Earth, email and news) and wireless phone charging.
The standard stereo has six speakers, and it’s a reasonably punchy system. You can upgrade it to an 11-speaker, 560-watt Bang & Olufsen system, which is part of the Comfort and Sound Pack.
Audi A1 hatchback build quality
What was once one of the defining aspects of the original A1, interior quality, is no longer outstanding in this second-generation model. It still feels more expensive than a Fiesta or Ibiza, thanks to the soft-touch materials on the dashboard, high-quality switches and some gloss black trims that spruce up the look. However, the cheap-looking plastic found on the doors and centre console is disappointing on a car that touts itself as "premium".
The less expensive Polo isn’t immune from hard plastics inside, yet in places it manages to feel more robust and better finished than the A1. However, if you want a small car that looks really special inside, we reckon the Mini is top dog.