From £13,4208

Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Sold out limited edition Quattro and S1 aside, the 148bhp 1.4 TFSI engined car is the most potent Audi A1 available. That gives it Mini Cooper S troubling pace (0-62mph takes 6.7sec), although in our estimation such frenetic pace - and a high asking price - don't deliver the best this car has to offer.

The 123bhp 1.4 TFSI engined A1 wouldn’t see which way a Cooper S went but, if you view it in isolation, the performance on offer here is perfectly adequate for most circumstances. We recorded a 0-60mph time of 8.4sec, fractionally ahead of Audi’s claims, despite greasy track conditions. Beyond the proving ground, there is enough on-demand acceleration to make cross-country overtaking a possibility (with a little planning). The caveat is that you need to be prepared to work the engine to get this performance.

You need to be prepared to work the 123bhp 1.4 TFSI engine to get the best from it

Although trading down from the 123bhp 1.4 to the 94bhp 1.0 TFSI only saves you a few hundred pounds, like for like (although you can get the 1.0 in entry SE spec, unlike the 1.4), a CO2 output of 114g/km means a benefit-in-kind rating five per cent lower and a saving on road tax.

Whether you’ll miss the 1.4’s extra power depends on where you drive. In town the three-pot 1.0 is more than adequate; 118lb ft of torque is available from 1500rpm, so the A1 picks up keenly from low revs. However, at higher speeds and higher revs, the smaller engine feels more restricted. It’s not exactly slow, but 0-62mph in 11.7sec isn’t brisk, either.

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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. The upside to this occasional lethargy is 74.3mpg combined and just 99g/km of C02. It really is the best A1 for high-mileage business users, but we would recommend any of the petrols for the private buyer.

With plenty of rubber for a small car, braking performance is strong. The A1 actually recorded a shorter stopping distance on MIRA’s fully wet track than on the damp and greasy ‘dry’ surface.