How to spec an Audi A1

* Best Audi A1 models listed * Engines, trims and options explored * What to get and what to pay for it...

How to spec an Audi A1

The Audi A1 is a brilliant car so good we named it our 2011 Car of the Year.

With so many engines and trims to choose from, though, it can be confusing to work out which is the best Audi A1 spec to go for. Our buying guide can help.

Audi A1 - 3dr or Sportback?
There's a 620 premium for choosing the five-door Audi A1 Sportback over the A1 3dr.

Thanks to the A1 Sportback's extra doors access to the rear seats is easier, while a higher roofline means there's extra headroom, too. Although there's a fraction more shoulder space, there's no more legroom, so the Sportback is still only comfortable for just two rear passengers. The boot is no bigger than the three-door car's, either.

Our favourite version is the A1 3dr, which is cheaper and looks more sporty. If you need a bit of extra practicality the A1 Sportback is a fine alternative, but it's not practical enough to make it a proper family car.

Best Audi A1 engines
There are five engines on sale 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrols (with two power outputs) and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels.

The 1.2-litre petrol is best suited for itown driving and doesn't give much lower running costs than the lower-powered 1.4. We'd recommend the diesel models only if you do a lot of miles on the motorway; their engines are noisy and they cost too much to buy.

Although it provides decent pace, the 182bhp 1.4-litre model just isn't as much fun as a hot hatch should be, so it's not worth its high price.

The 120bhp 1.4-litre petrol is our favourite. It gives strong performance, sounds great, and yet still has decent fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

You can spec Audi's excellent S tronic gearbox, but when the six-speed manual version is so good there seems little reason to.

Best Audi A1 trims
There are SE, Sport and S line trim packages offering not only different levels of equipment, but also firmer suspension and bigger wheels as you progress up through the range, so you need to order carefully.

Our advice is to go for Sport trim. SE trim is noticeably cheaper, but you forgo too many of the toys that make the A1 feel special.

Sport trim includes stiffer suspension for sharper handling, which adds an uncomfortably firm edge to the ride. However, you can choose SE-spec suspension as a no-cost option, and we'd recommend doing so.

Sport comes with Bluetooth, a multi-function leather steering wheel, a CD player with MP3 compatibility, an SD card reader, an auxilary socket, a 6.5-inch display screen, front foglights and polished tailpipes.

S line specification brings more equipment and even sportier trim, but it also brings suspension that is a bit too stiff for our liking and can't be de-selected.

Audi has also launched a number of 'edition' models - limited-run versions with various cosmetic and equipment upgrades. Unless these are the exact options you'd have chosen anyway we think it's best to stick with the standard trim models, which are better value.

Best Audi A1 options
There are always plenty of options to consider when configuring an Audi, but with the A1 there are a few extras that we would recommend.

Metallic paint: 340
It looks cool and will help to shift the car when it's time to sell.

Roof contrast line/contrast roof: 350/400
Choosing the roof contrast line option for the A1 3dr means the pillars and side sections of the roof are in a different colour from the rest of the car. It helps the car stand out, and is likely to be desirable to future buyers.

For the A1 Sportback, selecting the contrast roof option means the entire top half of the car is in a different colour.

Electronic climate control: 330
This option will not only make the cabin temperature just so, but the knobs are made of a cool aluminium trim with a slick action. Fail to spec this option and you get drab plastic dials for the air-con that feel clunky to use.

Connectivity package: 305 (605 for SE models)
With this you get Audi's Music Interface, a Bluetooth interface including voice control, and Bluetooth audio streaming. It also includes an additional SD card reader and preparation for sat-nav. So even if you don't want sat-nav now, you can get it later. This should be attractive to buyers when it comes to sell the car on.

Acoustic parking system (rear only): 345
Helps keep your pride and joy in pristine condition.

We recommend
Audi A1 1.4 TSI 122 Sport - 15,890

Connectivity package - 305
Electronic climate control - 330
Metallic paint - 340
Roof contrast line - 350
Acoustic parking system (rear only) - 345

Total price:

What should you pay?
The Audi A1 is a highly desirable car and Audi dealers know this. As a result, discounts are reasonably hard to come by, although you should be able to haggle around 780 off the price of our favourite model (including options).

Some internet broker sites offer a few more pounds off, but don't expect the kind of discounts you get on some of the A1's mainstream supermini rivals.