2015 Audi A1 1.0 TFSI UK review
Audi’s Mini rival gets a minor facelift and a new 1.0-litre petrol engine. We try it on UK roads for the first time...
We voted the Audi A1 our overall Car of the Year back in 2011 and, by and large, it’s stood the test of time extremely well.
That probably explains Audi’s ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach to the styling of this updated model, with only subtly different bumpers and a squarer front grille marking it out from the original.
Changes elsewhere include a new power steering setup, plus there's also now the option of a more advanced, permanently online infotainment system.
However, the biggest changes are under the bonnet. In comes a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol – in place of the old entry-level 1.2 – and out goes the 2.0 diesel. The 1.4 petrol and the 1.6 diesel remain but have been tweaked to make them pump out more power and less CO2.
What’s the Audi A1 1.0 TFSI like to drive?
We tried the new 1.0-litre petrol and it’s an absolute gem. It pulls eagerly from low revs (about 1500rpm) and, despite having only 94bhp, endows the A1 with surprisingly decent acceleration.
The engine will rev to 5500rpm and beyond, but there’s really no need to bother because you’ll enjoy almost as much performance and much better fuel economy by shifting up early. Getting anywhere near the claimed average of 67.3mpg will require some seriously eco-minded driving, though.
Three-cylinder engines are sometimes a bit coarse and grumbly but this one is remarkably refined. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's the most muted engine in the A1 line-up, although you do feel a few tremors through the soles of your feet when you accelerate hard.
The new steering is less successful. It’s heavier than before which you might imagine would give you more feedback when cornering quickly – in fact the opposite is true. It's a shame because it means the A1 isn't quite as much fun to drive as it was.
Thankfully, the other aspects of the A1’s dynamics remain largely intact. It still grips well and stays flat through corners, and rides smoothly as long as you steer clear of the optional sports suspension and big alloy wheels.
What’s the Audi A1 1.0 TFSI like inside?
Not much different from before. That’s no bad thing, though, because it means the A1’s cabin still radiates quality and generally feels a cut above any other small car’s – including even the latest Mini.
The driving position is superb, and the standard 6.5-inch infotainment system is one of the most user-friendly in the class. DAB is standard across the range and sat-nav is a reasonably priced (£570) option on Sport and S Line models.
£1495 gets you a new and much more advanced Audi Connect system, with Google traffic updates and a hard drive to store your music on. You can even create a WiFi hotspot for your passengers.
Those passengers won’t enjoy much space if they’re sitting in the back, though. Anyone approaching six feet tall with find their knees wedged firmly against the seat in front, and rear headroom isn’t especially great by the standards of the class, either.
There’s a bit more headroom in the Sportback (five-door) model, but still less than you’ll find in a Mini 5dr – let alone a VW Polo.
The A1 does have a bigger boot than the Mini, but it’s still only really suitable for a small weekly shop or a couple of small suitcases. Rivals such as the Polo are far more capacious.
As before, there are three trims: SE, Sport and S Line. SE is best avoided because it misses out on all-important Bluetooth and a USB socket, so we’d recommend forking out a bit extra for Sport trim. This gets you both of the above, plus other handy features including adjustable lumbar support.
Sport trim also brings stiffer suspension and a bumpier ride, but thankfully you can specify regular SE suspension for no extra change.
Should I buy one?
The A1 is still one of our favourite small cars, and the new 1.0-litre engine is definitely the way to go if you’re a company car driver. It’s almost as cheap to tax as the 1.6 diesel yet much quieter and generally more pleasant to mooch about in.
However, we reckon most private buyers will be better off with the 1.4 TFSI 125. It’s usefully quicker and costs just £400 more. Yes, the on-paper fuel economy of the larger engine isn’t anywhere near as impressive, but the differences in the real-world are likely to be far smaller.
Just make sure you drive the latest Mini Cooper before you buy any A1. It’s more refined and bigger in the back, and is a similarly sound investment in the long-term.
What Car? says…
Audi A1 1.0 TFSI
Engine size 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £14,355
Torque 118lb ft
0-62mph 10.9 seconds
Top speed 116mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg