The Audi A1 has the cabin quality and powertrain refinement that we’ve come to expect from an Audi. The cabin may lack the quirkiness of either the Mini or DS 3, but it sets a new quality benchmark for a premium supermini.
From the driver’s seat it’s clear you’re in a proper Audi – there are no signs of cost-cutting with plush materials and switchgear that is often a hand-me-down from a model higher up the Audi range.
Look over your shoulder and the view is somewhat more unusual. There’s not a whole lot of space in the back – it’s best described as ‘occasional use only’ for adults. The boot is a bit miserly, too, although in both respects the A1 is better than the Mini.
The A1 isn’t cheap, but the equipment list is fairly expansive. For the money, you get alloys and air-con even on the cheapest model. As you’d expect from a Mini rival, there’s a whole host of luxury and style accessories you’ll be encouraged to pay extra for.
The engines, although not the most powerful in the market at the moment, offer sufficient performance coupled with economy and refinement.
But it is how the A1 drives that overturns our expectations, because this is a small Audi that is fun. It is not as supple as a Ford Fiesta or encompassing as the Seat Ibiza, but it is still an enjoyable and capable car to drive quickly, and it comes without a harsh ride quality. The breadth of abilities is highly impressive - the only stumbling block its high asking price.