From £13,420
Fastest A1 offers warm hatch pace and ‘big car’ refinement

Our Verdict

The A1 is a stylish, high quality and competent supermini, if a little expensive, it has the cabin quality and powertrain refinement that we’ve come to expect from an Audi.

What is it?

The fastest, most powerful version of Audi’s smallest car. The not-so-performance-sounding Audi A1 1.4 TFSI was due to get the S1 name but Audi got cold feet on the eve of the car’s Paris 2010 debut as it was decided the car wasn’t quick enough, nor did it have four-wheel drive.

The 1.4 TFSI is in effect in a sister car to the VW Polo GTI, running an 182bhp version of VW Group’s turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-litre petrol engine. The engine is only available in range-topping S Line trim, which brings with it extras including sports suspension, 17-inch alloys, some sporty exterior styling details and plenty of S Line badging for the premium interior.

What’s it like?

A grown-up supermini with two distinct sides to its personality. On the one hand, it’s refinement levels belie its size and make the car a surprisingly comfortable companion on long distance cruises thanks to its seven-speed S Tronic gearbox.

Only a slightly unwelcome amount of tyre roar and an occasionally abrupt ride from its 17in alloys/sports suspension combo stops you from being fooled you’re in a much larger Audi.

The other side of its personality is one of a quick and able warm hatch. It’s more than quick enough for most everyday situations (0-62mph takes just 6.9sec) and it feels nimble enough to raise a small smile on B-roads or swift, nippy progress around town. The rorty engine note is also a welcome addition, especially when you put the gearbox in Sport mode.

Where it falls down on this side of its personality is a lack of overall involvement and play from its chassis, and the frustrations of no manual control of the gearbox when you really want to open up.

Should I buy one?

It’s a smart move from Audi not giving the car an S1 badge. To do so would have branded this car something its not. An S1 is coming and it’s going to have the extra power and sports-orientated set-up the chassis seems more than able to handle.

What you get instead with the 1.4 TFSI is a quick and mature supermini with a comfortable, high quality interior, ‘big car’ refinement – and a ‘big car’ price to match.

Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

Price: £20,710; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph 6.9sec; Economy: 47.9mpg (combined); CO2: 139g/km; Kerb weight: 1190kg; Engine: 4cyls, turbocharged and supercharged, petrol; Power: 182bhp at 6200rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 2000-4500rpm; Gearbox: 7spd dual-clutch auto

Join the debate

Comments
13

22 June 2011

The ultimate supermini? Has it all, looks, performance and quality. £20k isn't a bad price either.

22 June 2011

[quote J400uk]The ultimate supermini? Has it all, looks, performance and quality. £20k isn't a bad price either.[/quote]

I agree, as a everyday A- B Supermini its a great all rounder can do a bit of everything, put a smile on your face, drive you long distances in comfort, and will not look out of place in the golf club car park lol, Overall a nice little car for normal driving.

22 June 2011

[quote J400uk]The ultimate supermini? Has it all, looks, performance and quality. £20k isn't a bad price either[/quote] I'm not a massive fan of the looks of the A1 the more I see them on the road. Think in a couple of years time it will look utterly bland. Performance seems strong, and having sat in one at an Audi showroom, no arguements on the interior

However, best part of 21k before options?? Worth 4k over an Ibiza Cupra? Even a Mini Cooper S isnt that expensive.

22 June 2011

£20k for a super-mini with a posh badge? Are you pulling my wotsit!!

22 June 2011

Why not? There are plenty of wealthy people who don't want or need big cars and they won't bat an eyelid at £20k+ provided the car feels sufficiently nippy, premium and well-made. Which, from experience, I can safely say it does. And it makes a lot more sense than a Cygnet, which is far less usable but will also sell well to people who want luxury items and aren't particularly fussed about the price.

And if you think £20k is too much for a supermini-sized car, then don't fret. Audi do a boggo version for a shade over £13k and for the even more humbly-budgeted, Kia or Hyundai will happily sell them a decent-enough albeit terminally unstylish supermini for under £10k.

23 June 2011

I think this car is a little confused about what it wants to be. If its a mature little car it doesnt want to have S line suspension and large wheels, and if its a hot hatch it doesnt want an auto box. Given that Audi have all the bits available its disapointing they dont offer it with this engine in another form.

I doubt this will slow down the sales though.

23 June 2011

Too expensive for what it is, I think the Polo GTi is nicer car, a friend of mine test drove a 1.6 TDi A1 and came from an old V Reg Audi A4 TDi. She felt her old Audi had more omph and was not as harsh to ride in and just felt more sturdy.

She went for a used A3 instead and that to me sums the A1 up. It's still a supemini with a family car price. Base models seem ok but this 1.4 TFSi 180 does seem a tad overpriced and you are in A3 and 1 Series territory if you don't really need the performance. Also the engine has become rather troublesome across the VAG range and some nightmare stories.

It will sell no doubt but far better cars out there for that kind of money, take the badge off and nobody would buy it.

23 June 2011

[quote JezyG] Also the engine has become rather troublesome across the VAG range and some nightmare stories.

[/quote]

Has it? What are the problems with it? I've been considering the 122 tsi version, in this or the Golf, so does that share these problems?

23 June 2011

[quote catnip]'ve been considering the 122 tsi version[/quote]

That's the one I drove and I think it's the most interesting version. Decent performances, very big refinement, and you can have it with manual box that was just good. Feels bigger and more refined than a Mini and gets better interior. As a luxury 2nd small car for men or 1st car for girls make sense.

This 180hp version seems less adequate to me. A1 chassis and steering are not sporty enough to make it fun...

23 June 2011

[quote catnip]

[quote JezyG] Also the engine has become rather troublesome across the VAG range and some nightmare stories.

[/quote]

Has it? What are the problems with it? I've been considering the 122 tsi version, in this or the Golf, so does that share these problems?

[/quote] The 1.4TSi 122 is much much less troublesome its the 1.4 180 twincharger that is the problem child. Suffering high oil consumption continuous ECU and sensor faults one person I know has had a new cylinder head gasket, 2 software updates, ignition coils, spark plugs and fuel injectors. Seems it is too clever and complex for its own good.

Should be fine with the turbo only 1.4 122!!

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka