What's the used Audi A1 hatchback like?
If you’ve ever been to a fancy restaurant then you’ll know that just because a meal is small doesn’t mean that it'll be inexpensive; there are often too many fancy garnishes for that. The same can be applied to premium small cars, much like the Audi A1, because they come with expensive big car tech. Although, the canny used car buyer can cheat the system somewhat by buying a second-hand one.
Even though this is a small car, you can find some rather large and powerful engines in an A1. The top of the tree is a 197bhp 2.0-litre found in the 40 TFSI that’s paired exclusively to a six-speed automatic. But there are far more sensible options available such as the 148bhp 1.5-litre in the 35 TFSI, the 114bhp 1.0-litre in the 30 TFSI or the base engine 94bhp 1.0-litre 25 TFSI.
However, it is the tech that really sets the A1 apart from its rivals because even the entry-level SE model has super bright LED headlights, along with the fancy sweeping indicators in the LED rear tail lights you see in bigger Audis. There’s also a simplified 10.25in digital cockpit, 15in alloy wheels, a DAB radio, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and an 8.8in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Sport models have slightly larger 16in alloys, rear parking sensors, cruise control and sports seats in the front that also include manual lumbar support. S Line comes in four different flavours, but the standard version has 17in alloys, sports suspension and some sportier exterior styling. S Line Contrast edition and S Line Style edition are mostly styling packages, but the S Line Competition is the only way to get the most powerful 40 TFSI engine and adaptive dampers - the latter should be able to take the sting out of lumps and bumps on a really rough road when comfort mode is selected.
As long as you stick with the standard suspension set up called dynamic and don’t go for larger alloy wheels, the A1 is one of the smoothest riding small cars available. S Line models have sports suspension as standard, and when combined with larger 18in wheels, some might find it to be unforgivably unforgiving at low speeds and on bumpy B-roads. The pay-off is that it keeps the body roll tightly in check during tight turns.
Aside from the differences in suspension, every A1 has predictable steering that allows you to accurately place the car on the road, and it weights up in a consistent manner as you wind on more lock. Examples with the manual gearbox have a crisp biting point to the clutch, but the gearshift action is rather long and, whisper this, not as slick as it is the cheaper Ford Fiesta.
Where the older A1 really feel short of the competition was for interior space because while those up front were well catered for, the boot was small and rear passenger accommodation was tight at best. This current car is based on the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza, both of which are some of the roomiest small cars around, so it’s no surprise to find that the A1 is a vast improvement on what went before.
Your choice was increased further in 2020 with the launch of the A1 Citycarver, a car that takes all that's good about the standard car and adds SUV-aping exterior body cladding and a raised ride height.
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