Audi A1 Car Review

The Audi A1 is based on Volkswagen’s fifth generation Polo but in profile looks more like a sturdy coupe than a supermini thanks to a TT-like roof silhouette and a line from the headlamps round to the bootlid. It is a more practical motor than many of its small car rivals and looks modern – spurning the recent fashion for retro design.


Audi A1 Car Review Summary

When Audi decided to enter the supercar market with the R8 it astonished the critics and the company is expecting similarly good things from its new three-door front-wheel drive baby.

The A1 is available with three turbo engines – 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol units and a 1.6 diesel. The 1.2-litre is best in the urban jungle but in fairness all offer punchy performance while the diesel and 1.4-litre petrol make excellent cruisers on the motorway. The engines boast a long top gear to keep the revs down and the fuel economy figures up at higher speeds. The petrol engines are available with the glorious S tronic 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox but the diesel settles for just the manual transmission.


The Audi A1 has easy-access front seats that ensure it’s not too challenging to get into the rear of the three-door motor, it is small and is set to rival the likes of the Mini Coupe, so it isnt practical for anyone who is going to be carrying big loads regularly.

There’s a decent amount of space in the back as the A1 offers good levels of legroom without removing the possibility of a decent-sized 270-litre boot. The same claim can’t be made for headroom in the rear though as it is limited by the inwards and downwards curvature of the roofline.

That said, four adults can travel inside without the need for Houdini-like flexibility and escapology.
The Audi A1 has three trim levels with each bringing a firmer suspension and bigger wheels. Care needs to be taken over which version is chosen as the A1 is a firm-ish car to start with. So by the time you get to S line trim on 17-inch wheels, the ride feels quite hard. As for handling, the A1 is light and easy in town and reasonably direct and agile elsewhere.

Fuel consumption on the Audi A1 Motor is helped by an engine stop-start system that has the added benefit of reducing the level of carbon dioxide emitted from the exhaust so keep running costs low.
The interior is well laid out with firm, supportive seats with lots of adjustment and an organised dashboard with big, clear instruments.

The windows aren’t very deep but there’s still plenty of glass area giving a good view out. A central control unit and screen give access to many of the car’s functions, and although the system isn’t as quick to operate as a touch-screen, it’s easy to get used to.

Life Style

What is good about the Audi A1 is that it brings the Germans’ style and luxurious touch to a car under four metres long.

It is the smallest and cheapest Audi in the range but it is no poor relation with soft-touch plastics in all the right areas plus switches and dials that have an expensive look and feel.

The Audi touchstones of reassuringly heavy doors, tactile controls and sheer comfort are all included. Audi claims the dash is modelled on aircraft wings – with ‘jet engine’ air vents – and the centre console around a ship’s stern, but in reality it’s not that eye-catching although there’s an air of maturity about it which belies its size.

It does achieve top marks though for making it feel like you are behind the wheel of an A3, A4 or A6 which is something manufacturers have been trying to achieve for years in the rapidly growing premium small car market.

In the main the Audi A1 is a refined and quiet car. The diesel engine can rattle when pulling away and there’s a bit of wind noise in all models at motorway speed, but that’s the extent of the noise making it into the cabin.

For those who like their cars to have a green tinge the start stop engine system ensures the rain forests can breathe more easily.

Security and Safety

Audi has a terrific record for theft prevention and this level of excellence is maintained on the A1 with alarm, immobiliser and central remote locking fitted as standard on all models.

In terms of safety the A1 goes way beyond the basics of six airbags and anti-lock brakes as there’s also stability control with an electronic rear differential to help you safely round corners plus daytime running lights and automatic beam adjustment among the options.

The Finishing Touches

The SE entry-level trim on the Audi A1 comes with air conditioning, radio/CD player, electric mirrors, front electric windows and power steering. Step up to the Sport and S Line trim packages and Audi add MP3/iPod connectivity, bigger alloy wheels, a hands free phone kit, Bluetooth connectivity and front fog lights.

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