There are a couple of small cars of particular note in Audi’s past appertaining to the Audi A1. One was the A2 (1999-2005), cleverly constructed from aluminium but slow-selling.

More pertinent to the A1’s role is the Audi 50 (1974-78), an upmarket three-door supermini that was also badged as a (better-selling and cheaper) Volkswagen Polo. The 50 is the closest thing to a predecessor for the new A1, which was first displayed as the Metroproject Quattro concept in 2007.

Today, a small car no longer needs to be cheap. It can be as much of a lifestyle statement – arguably even as aspirational – as any sports car. Witness the Mini, and Audi has grabbed its own slice of the premium supermini pie with the A1.

If more proof were needed that buyers are willing to pay a premium for a high-end small hatchback, consider the popularity of the A1; so far, it has been a sell-out hit among buyers. It’s clear that people are willing to pay for the many optional extras that Audi considers essential to the premium buying experience, too.

To be a true premium car, though, the A1 must do more than just look the part and wear the price. It needs to feel like one and, more importantly for us, drive like the car we’re led to believe it is. That’s crucial, given how closely related it is to other VW Group products.

In spite of the premium tag attached to the A1, the range starts at a surprisingly affordable (to use a VW tag line) price for the 1.0 TFSI SE model. It’s also surprisingly well equipped. Five engines are available at present.

In addition to the 1.0, you can have a 1.4 TFSI in two power outputs, or a 1.6 TDI; the diesel can also be had as a 99g/km eco special. The introduction of the five-door Sportback model has added an extra dose of practicality to the A1, for a £500 premium.

There’s also the hot S1, with 228bhp from a 2.0-litre turbo engine and four-wheel drive, and in 2017 it will be joined by the 280bhp RS1.

Top 5 Superminis

  • Ford Fiesta
    Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

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  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

  • The Mazda 2
    The Mazda 2 name dates back to 2002. This latest version showcases the firm's Skyactiv technology and 'Kodo' styling

    Mazda 2

  • Volkswagen Polo
    The Polo is a polished, mature-feeling, spacious supermini

    Volkswagen Polo

  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio


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