What's the used Audi A1 hatchback like?
Just because a car is small doesn't mean it can't be a premium one, even if it follows logically that it might not be a cheap one. The first-generation Audi A1 is a prime example of this.
We thought it so good we named it our overall 2011 Car of the Year just after it was launched. We said at the time: 'If ever there has been a car that has hit the nail squarely and firmly on the head, the Audi A1 is it. It's the right car at the right time: a car that combines desirability and ability alongside frugal financials. It's the perfect combination.'
And, with the exception of those strong residual values keeping the used prices on the high side, that all still holds true, even though it was replaced by an all-new second-generation model in 2018.
There's a good range of strong engines, for one. These started with a 1.2-litre petrol unit, which was in time dropped in favour of a 94bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder TFSI engine. The rest of the engine range was made up of two tunes of the 1.4 TFSI engine producing 123bhp and 148bhp respectively. The only diesel available was an 114bhp, four-cylinder, 1.6 TDI version, while topping the range was the ferocious 227bhp 2.0 TFSI unit which powers the S1.
Entry-level SE models come with 15in alloy wheels, halogen headlights, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, cruise control and rear parking sensors as standard, while inside there are manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, and front floor mats. Dominating the dashboard is Audi's MMI infotainment system, complete with a 6.5in pop-up display, a DAB radio and SD card reader.
Upgrade to Sport and the A1 is adorned with 16in alloy wheels, firmer suspension, front foglights, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity, while opting for S line adds 17in alloys, sports suspension, xenon headlights, LED rear lights, front sports seats, an aggressively styled body kit and LED ambient interior lighting to a fully loaded package. Black Edition models get 18in alloys, a gloss black exterior trim, climate control, automatic lights and wipers, and a leather and Alcantara upholstery.
Numerous changes were made to the A1 during its life, including a facelift in 2016, chiefly featuring the addition of a new grille, bumpers and headlights, alongside a new electric power steering system and adaptive dampers.
Inside, a near-perfect driving position, an elegant dashboard and solid controls immediately demonstrate that the A1 is a classy car, much in the mould of its bigger brothers. Refinement is top notch and you’re well insulated from wind and road noise, even at higher speeds.
But these hushed road manners haven’t come at the expense of the driving experience, as the A1 has agile handling and responsive steering. There’s the option of a firmer set-up, but this is best avoided, as are the larger alloy wheels that some of the S line cars came with.
The A1’s sloping roofline means the back seats are best suited to children, but there’s decent leg room compared with other stylish superminis, such as the Alfa Romeo Mito and Mini. The boot is a decent size and some A1s get a height-adjustable boot floor that lets you divide up the available space. However, it is worth pointing out that, on some versions, either the battery is stored in the spare wheel well or, on cars fitted with the optional Bose surround sound system, the subwoofer.
If you need a more practical A1, then the best one to seek out is always the Sportback version with five doors, which makes it easier for people to access those rear seats. In addition to the doors, you can tell a Sportback apart by the optional contrast roof. The three-door car has only its roof pillars painted in a different colour, whereas the whole roof is in a separate colour on the Sportback.
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