Some of the A1’s engines are noisier than others. Choose the 1.0-litre petrol and try to work it hard - as you’re likely to need to – and you’ll hear a raspy three-cylinder warble as the revs rise. The 1.6 diesel is worse again; it’s gruff even when it’s idling, and this turns into an unpleasant clatter as you work it harder. It doesn’t calm down much once it’s warmed up, either.
Fortunately the 1.4-litre petrol has a calmer character, regardless of whether you’re going for the 123bhp option or the 148bhp version, which shuts down half of its four cylinders when you’re cruising at a steady speed to save fuel.
You’ll hear more road and suspension noise as you go further up the range to versions with larger wheels and the more extreme suspension set-ups; however, the A1 does a better job of keeping these in check than many other small cars. There’s a bit of wind noise from around the door mirrors when you’re cruising at motorway speeds, but it’s no worse than you’ll find in many rivals.
All of the manual gearboxes have a slick enough shift, and the optional S tronic automatic ’box changes gear quickly and smoothly; the only time you may find it a bit jerky is during low-speed manoeuvres, such as parking.
The S1, meanwhile, is more bullish altogether about its performance potential. The exhaust note from its potent 2.0-litre engine is more gravelly – but then, it is a hot hatch, so that’s as it should be, and it’s never so loud that it becomes genuinely tiresome.
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