Fastest A1 offers warm hatch pace and ‘big car’ refinement

What is it?

The fastest, most powerful version of Audi’s smallest car. The not-so-performance-sounding Audi A1 1.4 TFSI was due to get the S1 name but Audi got cold feet on the eve of the car’s Paris 2010 debut as it was decided the car wasn’t quick enough, nor did it have four-wheel drive.

The 1.4 TFSI is in effect in a sister car to the VW Polo GTI, running an 182bhp version of VW Group’s turbocharged and supercharged 1.4-litre petrol engine. The engine is only available in range-topping S Line trim, which brings with it extras including sports suspension, 17-inch alloys, some sporty exterior styling details and plenty of S Line badging for the premium interior.

What’s it like?

A grown-up supermini with two distinct sides to its personality. On the one hand, it’s refinement levels belie its size and make the car a surprisingly comfortable companion on long distance cruises thanks to its seven-speed S Tronic gearbox.

Only a slightly unwelcome amount of tyre roar and an occasionally abrupt ride from its 17in alloys/sports suspension combo stops you from being fooled you’re in a much larger Audi.

The other side of its personality is one of a quick and able warm hatch. It’s more than quick enough for most everyday situations (0-62mph takes just 6.9sec) and it feels nimble enough to raise a small smile on B-roads or swift, nippy progress around town. The rorty engine note is also a welcome addition, especially when you put the gearbox in Sport mode.

Where it falls down on this side of its personality is a lack of overall involvement and play from its chassis, and the frustrations of no manual control of the gearbox when you really want to open up.

Should I buy one?

It’s a smart move from Audi not giving the car an S1 badge. To do so would have branded this car something its not. An S1 is coming and it’s going to have the extra power and sports-orientated set-up the chassis seems more than able to handle.

What you get instead with the 1.4 TFSI is a quick and mature supermini with a comfortable, high quality interior, ‘big car’ refinement – and a ‘big car’ price to match.

Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

Price: £20,710; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph 6.9sec; Economy: 47.9mpg (combined); CO2: 139g/km; Kerb weight: 1190kg; Engine: 4cyls, turbocharged and supercharged, petrol; Power: 182bhp at 6200rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 2000-4500rpm; Gearbox: 7spd dual-clutch auto

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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JezyG 27 June 2011

Re: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

supermanuel wrote:

Why did they have to make it look like an upturned bathtub? It's hideous. It makes the Mito look like a supermodel.

It's because it makes the person driving it much better looking :o)

supermanuel 24 June 2011

Re: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

Why did they have to make it look like an upturned bathtub? It's hideous. It makes the Mito look like a supermodel.

david RS 23 June 2011

Re: Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

It needs a manual box.

VAG : when will you decide to put a manual mode on the DSG?