What is it?
The Audi A1 typifies the current market trend for ‘premium downsizing’, small cars offering many of the luxuries of their much larger siblings in a more compact package. But the premium downsizing trend in this latest version of the A1 only applies from the engine bay backwards, as over the front wheels sits a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.
This 141bhp oil-burner is anything but downsized, and offers a set of big car performance figures as a result. It can crack 0-62mph in 8.2sec and reach a top speed of 135mph, but at the same time it offers small car economy figures of 68.9mpg and 108g/km.
What’s it like?
Great on paper, at least. Shame this doesn’t really transfer to an impressive drive. One of the great appeals of smaller-engined A1s is the way they blend peppy performance with agile handling. While the 2.0 TDI’s 236lb ft peak torque makes this A1 undeniably quick in a straight line, its significant trade-off is an increased kerb weight that harms the ride, handling and steering.
At 1190kg, the A1 is 150kg heavier than the entry-level 1.2 TFSI petrol model, and it shows. The turn in is not as sharp, which makes the steering feel fairly lifeless.
The primary ride of A1s equipped with the firm Sport chassis settings (as our test car was) is known for being vertically agitated over bumps at motorway speeds, but this feeling is only amplified in the 2.0 TDI due to its extra weight. Thankfully, the secondary ride doesn’t suffer as badly, something partly helped by the 16in alloys of our test car.
Of course, the engine doesn’t impact on some of our favourite things about the A1. Interior quality is as good as ever, and the six-speed manual gearbox is as slick as they come. Economy well into the 50s is also easily achievable even when driven hard.
Should I buy one?
Only if you feel your A1 is getting left behind on your frequent drives on unrestricted sections on the Autobahn. The A1 2.0 TDI has such niche appeal, that’s it’s hard to think of any other scenario where you wouldn’t buy the 1.6 TDI instead.