Audi A1 (2010-2018) Review
The small A1 successfully blends the high levels of kit, comfort and the upmarket feel of bigger Audis into a compact, good-value package
Strengths & weaknesses
- Stylish design
- Holds its value well
- High quality interior
- Expensive to buy
- Not as fun to drive as a Mini
- Firm ride on Sport and S line models
Audi A1 prices from £7,850 Finance from £134.89 per month
Despite its small stature, the dinky A1 is blessed with the same upmarket feel as you find in larger, more expensive Audi models. What’s more, with plenty of interesting colour combinations and a varied line-up of efficient and suitably powerful diesel and petrol engines it makes a fine alternative to the Mini hatchback – especially when fitted with a slick-shifting automatic gearbox.
But the A1 is in truth a rather more serious and grown-up feeling car than the cheeky Mini. It’s more comfortable to drive and ride in for a start (as long as you steer clear of models with the biggest alloy wheels). Plus, with a sensibly designed and well-built cabin it feels like a smart, high-quality take on a compact supermini – and ideal as an urban runaround.
This generation of A1 may have been replaced with a more modern version, but it still appeals as a stylish, solid and upmarket car for those who want something small and easy to drive.
Keep reading to decide if the Audi A1 hatchback is the right car for you.
|3 years, 60,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£125 to £515 in first year, £140 thereafter
Best Audi A1 for...
Best for Economy – Audi A1 1.6 TDI SE 3dr
On the SE’s 15in wheels the 1.6-litre TDI engine returns an official fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg, but you'll need to lower your expectations to around 55mpg in real-world driving.
Best for Families – Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Sport Sportback
Find a model without the sport suspension for a more comfortable ride and the A1 Sportback is a good family runaround. The rear is roomy enough for children and the boot for a week's shopping.
Best for Performance – Audi S1 Nav
Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and with four-wheel drive, the S1 is incredibly fast but it’s also very expensive compared to other hot hatches.
One to Avoid – Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Black Edition Nav S tronic 3dr
With firm suspension and a list price of more than £22,000 from new, this A1 is an expensive car for its size.
Small and affordable, but with Audi style and luxury, it’s no wonder that the little A1 has been a huge hit since it first appeared in 2010. It continued to sell strongly right up until it was replaced by a new A1 model in 2018, and as a result the used market is packed full of great quality deals that make this German supermini feel like excellent value.
Even at this kind of reduced value, a used Audi A1 remains more expensive than a similarly-aged Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, although the Audi does offer a more upmarket feel in most cases. Take into account a list of standard equipment including cruise control, parking sensors and a dashboard media display and that disparity in price is easily justified.
In terms of design, this version A1 has aged on the outside especially; it's soft and bubbly in appearance - which is in sharp contrast to the more recent fashion for angular, sharp-edged shapes. Inside, you have the same shape of steering wheel, the same buttons and the same dashboard screen as the similarly-aged A4 and A6 - even if the size of these are all a little smaller.
The interior uses higher quality materials and feels better put together than much of its competition, but it lacks the latest technology. The car's pop-up screen and mass of dashboard buttons can't match the slick design of more mainstream rivals. The graphic design has clearly aged and you won’t find Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although Bluetooth (standard on all but entry-level cars) does allow you to pair your phone.
Technology aside, you can make the A1 sumptuous to suit your tastes. Luxury personalisation options include a Bose stereo, leather seats, panoramic sunroof and plenty of contrasting colour options - for a price.
On the road, the A1 is comfortable, and stable in corners, making it feel like a bigger car, similar to the latest VW Polo. You’ll have much more fun in the responsive and more modern Mini Hatchback, but the Audi A1 is more about smooth, steady and calm progress. For a balance of comfort and sharp, responsive cornering, you’re better off with a Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza.
Many Audi A1 Sport and S line models are less comfortable because they are fitted with firm sport suspension as standard, although new buyers could opt for the regular set-up at no extra cost. The S1 is also an exception, as it’s a powerful hot hatchback.
Three door cars (with two front doors and the boot lid that makes three) are cheaper and have a simpler, more attractive design, but the five-door models, named Sportback, are more practical if you’re going to be using the back seats frequently.
The engine line-up has been updated throughout the car’s life, so they offer competitive levels of power and fuel economy, so the car performs well on all roads.
The A1 was awarded a full five-star safety rating in 2010 by the independent Euro NCAP organisation, but it has not been assessed under the latest tests, which are considerably tougher. There’s no option to have increasingly common features such as automatic emergency braking, but there are two sets of Isofix mounting points for child seats in the back.
Audi A1 History
- December 2009 Audi A1 first revealed
- January 2011 Powerful 1.4 TFSI petrol engine with 185hp added to the range
- June 2011 A1 1.6 TDI becomes more efficient with zero road tax
- November 2011 2.0 TDI engine, Black Edition and Contrast Edition models added to range
- February 2012 19 high-powered A1 quattro special edition models go on sale in UK for £41,020
- March 2013 A 140hp 1.4 TFSI petrol engine is added to the range, which can partially shut down to save fuel
- July 2013 A1 S line Style Edition added to the range, with standard metalic paint and brighter xenon headlights
- July 2015 A1 range updated with tweaked styling and efficient new 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol engines
- October 2017 All but entry-level SE cars now come with a sat-nav, shown with the addition of nav to their name.
Understanding Audi A1 names
Trim level Sport Nav
Each A1 trim level provides differing amounts of standard equipment. They range from SE, Sport Nav, S line Nav and Black Edition Nav.
Engine 1.4 TFSI 125PS
A1 engines include petrol (TFSI) and diesel (TDI) and their size is shown in litres (here it's 1.0). The PS rating distinguishes different power ratings of the same-size engine and is virtually identical to horsepower.
Gearbox S tronic
S tronic indicates an automatic gearbox
Audi A1 Engines
Petrol: 1.0 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI, 2.0 TFSI quattro Diesel: 1.6 TDI
The Audi A1 engine range is fairly easy to get your head around. First of all, there's a 1-litre petrol engine, badged TFSI, with 95 horsepower (hp), which is plenty for nippy, smooth driving, both in town and on the motorway. It's cheap to run too: although you're unlikely to match the official 67.3mpg rating, a real-world figure of 50mpg is achievable, according to the Equa Index, which calculates fuel economy based on public road testing.
A larger 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine is available with 125hp. A 150hp version was previously available too. It has reasonable running costs (both versions return around 44mpg in real-world conditions) despite its brisk performance figures - the faster version will go from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds.
The 1.6 TDI diesel engine isn't as smooth as the petrols, but they’re still quiet and offer impressively low running costs. The diesels are only the best option if you spend a lot of time on the motorway, where the fuel savings will more than pay for the higher purchase price. If you're buying a diesel from 2014 or earlier, then it's unlikely to meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standard, which will make it liable for London's emissions charge as well as some other regional diesel charges.
The 2.0 TFSI engine in the S1 is lifted straight from the Volkswagen Golf GTI, and is seriously quick. It’s coupled with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system so it’s easy to apply its power to the road.
Fuel economy figures below vary depending on the wheel size and gearbox
|Official fuel economy
|1.4 TFSI 125PS
|1.4 TFSI 150PS
Audi A1 Trims
SE, Sport Nav, S line Nav, Black Edition, S1
Audi A1 trim levels are available across three-door and five-door Sportback body styles and have ben updated throughout the car's life. Below are the current trim levels: if you're buying a used car, you should check to ensure that it comes with all of the equipment that you need.
SE kicks off the range and comes with alloy wheels, digital radio, and a 6.5-inch screen that folds up out of the dashboard, and is controlled with a rotary dial.
Move up to the desirable Sport Nav trim and, as its name suggests, you’ll get a sat nav plus larger alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connection, plus sports seats and suspension. For no extra cost, new car buyers can deselect the sports suspension, which makes the car more comfortable over bumps and rough roads. These cars also have different driving modes, allowing you to make the car's steering feel sportier.
S line Nav models will appeal to those looking for something a bit sportier, as they have larger 17-inch alloy wheels, a sporty bodykit, which makes the ar look lower and plenty of S line badges dotted around the car.
Black Edition models have still larger 18in graphite alloy wheels and glossy black panels in place of chrome detailing. On top of this come the options of a contrasting paint colour on the roof, alloy wheels up to 18in in size, automatically dipping headlights, panoramic sunroof and leather seats.
S1 models have a different set of trim levels. All come with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system and a 231hp 2.0 TFSI petrol engine. An S1 Competition Nav version raises the bar higher still with larger alloy wheels and a high-gloss black styling package. Both are desirable but expensive.
Audi A1 Reliability and warranty
The Audi A1 shares key tried-and-tested components with the previous-generation Volkswagen Polo that was replaced towards the end of 2017, which should offer reassurances about reliability. Ownership surveys tend to suggest that the car has an average number of breakdowns, but it's often ranked poorly in satisfaction surveys, such as the 2017 Auto Express Driver Power poll because of disappointing practicality and ride quality.
Used Audi A1
With continuing demand for the Audi A1, prices aren’t cheap, but Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance packages can be surprisingly affordable because the car loses value slowly - particularly the more practical five-door Sportback version.
It’s worth aiming for one of the updated cars delivered after summer 2015, which were available with the efficient 1-litre petrol engine and also came with a few minor technology tweaks. These cars start from £7,850 or £134.89 per month.
If you’re looking for a more powerful version, then you can identify the updated car by the engine power: more recent Audi A1s came with either a 125hp or 150hp (you may see this written as 125PS or 150PS). Older models had 122hp or 140hp.
|Best for economy
Audi A1 1.6 TDI SE
|Best for families
Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Sport Sportback
|Best for performance
Audi S1 Nav