What is it?
The smallest, cheapest Audi ever that’s poised to become the biggest-selling model in its history: the A1.
The A1 was first seen as the metroproject quattro concept at the Tokyo motor show two and a half years ago and almost all of that car’s design has carried over to the production car. There are plenty of design touches from Audi’s larger cars on the A1: the ‘wing-design’ LED daytime running lights are now a familiar facial feature of new Audis and the A1 is no exception.
The front-wheel-drive A1 shares its steel-based platform with the Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. But the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension systems have been tuned to provide the A1 with what Audi claims are more distinct and engaging dynamics than its siblings.
The UK will get three engines from launch: a 1.2 TFSI, a 1.4 TFSI and a 1.6 TDI. The model tested here is range-topping 120bhp 1.4 TFSI model equipped with the seven-speed S Tronic gearbox. In S Line trim as we’re testing here, it will set you back £18,280.
What’s it like?
Sophisticated. No more so is this evident than in its interior. No other volume manufacturer keeps such a consistently premium feel in their cars across the range, and the A1 is no exception for Audi. Its interior quality and design feel like an Audi should, even though it’s the smallest, cheapest Audi.
Indeed, there are even aspects to the A1’s interior that could filter up to the rest of the Audi range. The MMI sat-nav that pops out the top of the dash is a stylish and neat feature that feels premium enough to move higher up the Audi range.
The 120bhp engine feels like it’s pulling a lot of weight around, although it would be unfair to call it underpowered. On the whole, however, it’s a refined unit that’s silky smooth; it just wouldn’t hurt to have a bit more grunt.
The seven-speed S Tronic gearbox offers quick and smooth upshifts but, as is often the case with DSG ‘boxes, step off can be hesitant and shifts from second to first and into and out of reverse are too jerky.