The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The Audi A1's seat, steering wheel and pedals are lined up as neatly as a team of synchronised swimmers. There's also a broad range of height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel.
If you want adjustable lumbar support to stop you slouching on longer journeys, though, you'll need to go for Sport trim or above so you get sports seats that hold you in place slightly better through corners.
The simple dashboard controls include physical knobs and switches to deal with the air-conditioning, rather than the fiddly touch-sensitive buttons that some of the Audi A1's rivals employ. You get digital instruments as standard in place of regular analogue dials, with the option of swopping the standard 10.3in display for a more configurable version if you add the rather pricey Technology Pack (standard on Vorsprung).
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Thanks to comparatively skinny front windscreen pillars, it’s easy to see out of the front of the Audi A1. Rearward visibility is less impressive, though, due to the chunky rear pillars. Both the Volkswagen 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 trims apart from range-topping Vorsprung, which has them as standard.
Powerful LED headlights are fitted to every Audi A1 – all the better for illuminating the road ahead on those dark winter evenings.
Sat nav and infotainment
Even the cheapest Audi A1 trims come with an 8.8in infotainment touchscreen, and it’s positioned high up on the dashboard so you shouldn’t have trouble seeing or reaching it. That said, you inevitably have to glance away from the road to hit the screen's icons. The Mini’s iDrive rotary controller is much easier and less distracting to use while driving.
Every trim level comes with Bluetooth, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, so you can use selected apps on your smartphone, including sat nav apps such as Google Maps and Waze, via the car's touchscreen.
If you add the costly Technology Pack (standard on range-topping Vorsprung), the screen will be larger (10.1in) and you get a lot more features. These include in-built sat nav, a handwriting function (which you can use to enter postcodes) and wireless phone-charging. Meanwhile, the standard stereo has six speakers, and it’s a reasonably punchy system. You can upgrade it to a 560-watt Bang & Olufsen system (again, standard on Vorsprung) if you add the Comfort and Sound Pack to your Audi A1.
Sadly, while interior quality was one of the defining aspects of the original A1 (2010-2019), it's no longer outstanding in this second-generation model.
Don't get us wrong: the Audi A1 still feels suitably more expensive inside than a Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, thanks to the soft-touch materials on the dashboard, high-quality switches and gloss black trims that spruce up the look. However, the cheaper-looking plastics on the insides of the doors and around the gearlever disappoint on a car that touts itself as premium. With its slatherings of Alcantara suede on the door panels, the Vorsprung has a more appealing ambience, but you pay a lot more for the privilege.
The less expensive Volkswagen Polo is not immune from hard plastics inside, yet in places it manages to feel just as robust, while the Peugeot 208 actually has more upmarket materials inside. However, if you want a small car that feels really special to sit in, the Mini is top dog.
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