What is it?
This is our first chance to try the A1 with the smallest-capacity engine and least power – and also our initial exposure to the A1’s S Line suspension in the UK.
For the avoidance of doubt, the 85bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine fitted to the A1 is not related to the 69bhp 1.2 used in VW’s Polo. The Polo’s has three cylinders and is naturally aspirated, whereas the Audi’s has four cylinders and a turbocharger.
Although trading down from the 120bhp 1.4 A1 saves only £410, like for like (although you can get the 1.2 in entry SE spec, unlike the 1.4), a CO2 output of 118g/km means a benefit-in-kind rating five per cent lower and a £60 saving on road tax.
What's it like?
Whether you’ll miss the 1.4’s extra power depends on where you drive. In town the 1.2 is more than adequate; 118lb ft of torque is available from 1500rpm, so the A1 picks up keenly from low revs. And although the 1.2 is not quite as smooth as the 1.4, it doesn’t feel out of place matched to the A1’s surprisingly grown-up cabin. 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.
S Line trim, which costs £1545 more than Sport, adds sharper-looking bumpers, side skirts and a roof spoiler, plus 17in alloy wheels as standard and firmer suspension. Unlike in some other Audis, S Line suspension doesn’t mean a disastrous ride quality, but it is still stiffer than it needs to be – especially for the urban use that best suits the 1.2.