Audi A1 Review
The A1 may be Audi’s smallest model, but that doesn't stop it from impressing
Strengths & weaknesses
- Good looking
- High level of standard equipment
- Comfortable ride on 17in wheels
- Some disappointing engines
- Some low-rent interior trim
- Confusing engine names
Audi A1 prices from £7,850 Finance from £134.89 per month
Price-wise, the Audi A1 slots between the similar-size Volkswagen Polo, with which it shares a lot of its major parts, and the larger VW Golf. It was a successful formula for the previous model and one that Audi built upon with this latest generation model.
The most obvious rivals to the Audi A1 in terms of size and shape are the Mini Hatchback and the DS 3, given the choice, the Mini is the most fun to drive and to spend time in while the DS feels ancient in comparison. A VW Polo is a good alternative, though, since you get many of the A1’s parts for around £1,500 less, but the Audi badge is probably enough of a draw for most people.
This latest A1's styling is sharper than its predecessor's, with its blistered wheel arches, short overhangs at the front and rear, thick rear screen pillars and bonnet slots. It’s a bigger car than the old model, too, and the interior now feels more spacious as a result.
The dashboard is dominated by an 8.8-inch (10.1-inch with the optional Technology Pack) media display. As is increasingly the fashion with small cars, owners can personalise the A1’s interior with different colours and upholsteries, although some of the interior plastics are not up to the usual Audi quality.
Standard equipment includes LED front and rear lights with sweeping indicators on the basic Technik, as well as 15-inch alloy wheels and plenty of safety kit.
The remaining trims, Sport and S line, are familiar from other Audi models. Sport brings larger wheels and sports seats, while S line adds sportier bodywork and firmer suspension.
Engine choice is restricted to a number of petrol units, with no option for diesel or hybrid as yet. So, you won't get the kind of fuel economy you might get from a diesel Mini Hatchback as a result, but these engines are smooth, and offer a good balance of power and efficiency.
The steering, meanwhile, feels pleasantly weighty and direct and the car doesn't lean too much in corners, so it’s fun to hustle along country roads. It’s quiet on 17-inch wheels, and very comfortable too.
|3 years/60,000 miles
|335 litres/1090 litres
|From £145 to £165 in the first year, and £140 from the second
Best Audi A1 for...
Best for Economy – Audi A1 25 TFSI
As this was written, we had no economy figures for this model but we’d expect it to be just slightly more economical than the more powerful 30 TFSI, which returns 57.6 - 58.9mpg.
Best for Families – Audi A1 35 TFSI SE
Although we don't have performance figures for the new 35 TFSI engine we do know it produces 150bhp, easily enough to haul a family of four or, at a pinch, five. It’s a smooth engine and punchy. As the basic trim, SE has the most comfortable suspension, while standard equipment includes lots of safety kit.
Best for Performance – Audi A1 40 TFSI S line
This most powerful A1 produces 197bhp and has sporty bodywork and firm suspension. It’s not the most comfortable or polished version but it is sure to be the quickest, at least until an S1 version arrives.
One to Avoid – Audi A1 25 TFSI S line
The slowest engine with the sportiest and most expensive trim is not a good combination. Your money is better spent upgrading at least to the 30 TFSI.
- 2018 Audi A1 launched in five-door Sportback form only (the previous models was in three as well as five-door forms) costing from £18,450. Only the 30 TFSI engine at launch. Trims are SE, Sport, S line and S line Competition (40 TFSI only). Also, two launch special editions S line Contrast Edition and S line Style Edition.
Understanding Audi A1 names
These identify how much standard equipment an A1 has. There are three trim levels with a fourth reserved for the 40 TFSI model.
Engines 30 TFSI
The two-digit number relates to the engine’s power output and the letters TFSI that follow are shorthand for Audi’s petrol engines.
S Tronic S tronic
S tronic is Audi’s name for its seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Audi A1 Engines
25 TFSI, 30 TFSI, 35 TFSI, 40 TFSI
The Audi A1 is powered exclusively by petrol engines – there is no diesel and, as yet, no hybrid. They are all turbocharged for extra power and have a particulate filter to clean up their emissions.
Audi is unusual in identifying its engines with a two-digit number rather than by their capacity, as other car makers do. The number relates to the engine’s power output, although not directly. Power outputs are arranged by bands and the two-digit power identifier rises or falls in increments of five according to the band it falls in. Audi says it has adopted the system because power outputs no longer reflect engine sizes.
For example, 30 applies to power outputs in a band spanning 108 to 128hp. The 30 TFSI in the A1 produces 116hp (it’s a 1.0-litre engine, by the way). The next band down is 25 TFSI, which has a 95hp engine.
The 30 TFSI is economical but this has been achieved by lengthening the gear ratios to the extent that it can do 70mph in second gear. This makes it feel quite slow and it requires swift gearchanges to achieve the official 0-62mph time.
Generally speaking the S tronic automatic versions of the A1 are slightly quicker and more economical than the manual ones.
Fuel economy (WLTP)
Audi A1 Trims
Technik, Sport, S line, S line Competition, Vorsprung
Standard equipment across the new range includes an 8.8-inch display and multifunction steering wheel. The optional Technology Pack adds a sat nav within a 10.1-inch dynamic instrument binnacle called Audi Virtual Cockpit that can change its function and appearance as required. Optional Audi Connect also offers route guidance.
All versions have a digital radio while a B&O uprated system is an option.
Standard safety equipment includes a speed limiter, lane departure warning, pre-sense front (a radar-based system that spots forward hazards and if necessary brakes the car). Options include assisted parking.
The four core trims – Technik, Sport, S line and Vorsprung – are familiar from other Audi models. S line Competition is reserved for the 200hp 40 TFSI sports version.
SE trim has LED headlights with eye-catching sweeping indicators and 15in alloys.
Sport adds larger wheels and sports seats, while S line brings sportier bodywork and firmer suspension. S line Competition has the obligatory red brake calipers.
For a short while only, there are also two S line-based launch specials called the S line Style and S line Contrast, each featuring unique styling and 18-inch alloys.
For the very best Audi A1 experience, Vorsprung trim is the way to go. You get the sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, but it's inside where things take a serious upward turn. Ambient lighting, heated front seats plus the Audi Virtual Cockpit make this most expensive version of the A1 feel like a high quality saloon.
Audi A1 Reliability and warranty
The Audi A1 has a three-year new car warranty, capped at 60,000 miles. It’s hardly ground-breaking and is the same as sister brand Volkswagen’s, but not as generous as BMW’s three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Whether it means an Audi is any less reliable than a BMW is a moot point.
The new A1 is based on the VW Polo launched in 2017. That model didn't figure in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey but reports suggest it’s perfectly reliable. There’s little reason to suppose the new A1 won't follow suit.
Used Audi A1
Used examples of the new Audi A1 won't begin appearing until later in 2019 when the first dealer demonstrators are offered for sale or cars are pre-registered to achieve monthly or quarterly sales targets.
Discounts on new A1s are virtually zero at present so don't expect these first used cars to offer substantial savings. Depreciation, a key factor in calculating PCP costs, is likely to remain comparatively low during the model’s life, making new and used A1s surprisingly affordable on finance.