From £13,420
Strong image and an upmarket feel, but lacks competitors' sense of fun

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?

Judge a car solely on how fat the order book is, and how successful it is predicted to be, and the Audi A1 would probably be a five-star car. Thankfully, that’s not how it works. This is the first time we’ve driven the new supermini on British roads, and we’re testing the 1.6 TDI – likely to be the biggest-selling model in the UK, accounting for 40 per cent of sales.

See pics of the Audi A1 1.6 TDI in action

What's it like?

The car is intended to offer a more upmarket experience than conventional superminis, and in practice it does have an aura of solidity and quality that most small hatches lack.

The 1.6 TDi is available only with a five-speed manual gearbox, which has a long but positive shift action that complements the relatively weighty steering well enough to give the A1 the feel of a bigger model.

But it is not an involving car. Composed and easy to drive, yes, but a long way short of being fun.

The cabin in our test car emphasised the slightly dull drive by being mostly dark grey and silver, although there are plenty of personalisation options to make it more interesting.

The 1.6 TDi unit is also not the motor of choice if you want entertainment. Long gearing means it can feel quite underpowered, but with familiarity it can be worked harder to offer perfectly acceptable performance. And with such decent economy and emissions, thanks in part to standard stop-start, as well as class-leading predicted residuals, it’s easy to see the appeal.

Should I buy one?

In reality it’s hard to justify the A1, given the multitude of more affordable rivals. If you want a grown-up, solid-feeling supermini, the VW Polo does it for thousands cheaper. If you want something chic and fun, a Mini, Citroën DS3 or Ford Fiesta all do it with more flair and for less cash. Still, given the high initial demand, the badge appeal clearly justifies the price to many, and if you’re one of them then the Audi won’t disappoint.

The A1 sacrifices little of the brand’s perceived quality or image to its market position. But if badge matters less, there are other options that do compact, stylish and frugal without sacrificing value and entertainment.

Audi A1 1.6 TDI Sport

Price: £16,320; Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: 10.5sec; Economy: 70.6mpg; CO2: 105g/km; Kerb weight: 1140kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Gearbox: 5-spd manual

See all the latest Audi A1 reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Comments
78

21 June 2010

Extra cost to buy£1,035
Saving per 1000 miles£19.36
Miles to break even53,464
Time to break even
at 12,000 miles per year
4 years

compared to 1.2 tsi sport.

21 June 2010

i'm not surprised a steel car is cheaper than an aluminium one.

21 June 2010

It is starting to sound like VAG dropped the ball slightly on this 1.6 diesel - reviews of it have been pretty mixed, but maybe they'll improve as they run in.

19 May 2015

Having taken delivery of a brand new A1 TDI Sport less than two weeks ago, all i can say is that the new 116Hp engine is beautifully refined.

It is very subdued under the bonnet, and has none of the associated noise of a diesel.
Its not as quiet as a petrol, but you have to listen very carefully to realise there is a diesel under the bonnet.

My new car has only 163miles on the clock, and is already returning over 65mpg, and once the engine is fully run in, with a few thousand miles on the clock, i can easily see well over 70mpg being achieved.

Yes the diesel A1 costs more to purchase, but as to be expected with a manufacturer as good as Audi, the diesel under the bonnet of the new 2015 model, is a good one.

21 June 2010

From the side it looks like a puffed up Fiat 500. Still. I'm sure that wont stop it selling like hot cakes !!

DKW

21 June 2010

[quote beachland2]

Extra cost to buy £1,035
Saving per 1000 miles £19.36
Miles to break even 53,464
Time to break even
at 12,000 miles per year
4 years

compared to 1.2 tsi sport.

[/quote]

Good to have some facts. Don't forget however that diesels have consistently higher resale values, even when, as appears to be the case here, the petrol version is more popular. Even ignoring the benefits in service intervals/costs and insurance, I'd suggest the break-even point is probably under three years.
Under normal circumstances, that would swing it for me, specially as I like engines that produce lots of torque at low revs. As this engine needs to be revved a bit though I'd probably take the petrol regardless of costs.

19 May 2015

Those who buy a new A1, be it diesel or petrol, can purchase a 5 Yr Service Plan for their new vehicle.

The service plan costs only £250, and can be transferred from owner to owner, if the car is kept less than the usual three years.

Strangely enough, the insurance for my new A1 TDI Sport, is cheaper than my 5yr old Smart ForTWo.

If you take away the expense of buying a new A1, the running costs over ownership can be very small indeed, and with the diesel, there is no tax to pay.

21 June 2010

Nice car, but surely you'd be a bit of a numpty to buy one of these over a Fabia.

19 May 2015

The A1 is expensive, for the main reason that it is built to much higher standards than any other car in the VW Audi range.

The interior quality of the Audi is without doubt the best, not even BMWs Mini can challenge it,

It is a costly car, but its pointless comparing it to the Skoda or even the Polo.

DKW

21 June 2010

[quote 230SL]Nice car, but surely you'd be a bit of a numpty to buy one of these over a Fabia.[/quote]

The Fabia might provide a better function/cost ratio, but there's a lot of pleasure in driving down the road in something that says 'I'm doing well' - the feeling's worth the extra 20% for a lot of people.

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