New Audi A1 vs new Mini 5dr: practicality

The original A1 may have been small, but it was also luxurious and great to drive. Has Audi repeated, or bettered, that trick with the latest model, or would you be better off with a Mini 5dr?...

Audi A1 back seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

No small car betters the Mini for front leg room, but the A1 is good enough. Both have plenty of head room, but you sit a little closer to your front passenger in the Mini. 

For storing paraphernalia, the Mini’s rather meagre door bins and shortage of oddment trays place it second to the A1. Both have a decent-sized glovebox, though.

The A1 doesn’t have the roomiest rear in the class, but it’ll seat a couple of six-footers behind their equivalents, with knees only lightly brushing the seats in front and heads just avoiding the roof. Head room is marginally better in the Mini, but getting in is an act of contortion through the narrow rear door apertures. And once you’ve managed that, the Sport model’s new, thicker front seats make rear leg room fractionally tighter than before, as well as in relation to the A1. What’s more, the Mini is effectively rendered a four-seater by its higher central hump and narrower rear bench, while the A1 can take five at a push.

Mini 5dr rear seats

For boot space, the call goes to the A1; it can manage five carry-on suitcases, as opposed to the Mini’s four. But don’t completely write the latter off, because its Comfort Pack includes a height-adjustable boot floor (an option on the A1) that you can hinge up and clip onto the rear seats. This allows you to use the space beneath to accommodate bulky objects, and it’s complemented by rear seatbacks that can be locked in a more upright position to increase cargo capacity while still allowing passengers to use them.

Audi A1

Audi A1 boot

Head and leg room up front are fine for tall adults. It’s the same in the rear, and there’s just enough space for a third person. The boot fits five carry-on suitcases, which is above the class average. Both cars feature 60/40-split rear seats.

Boot 335-1090 litres  Suitcases 5

Mini 5dr

Mini 5dr boot

Front leg and head room are excellent, but rear leg room is tighter, because of the thick front seats, and you can really fit only two adults back there. The boot is smaller than the A1’s, but it’s cleverly packaged so still practical.

Boot 278-941 litres  Suitcases 4

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