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.
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.