While Audi has made an effort to differentiate the A1’s cabin from that of its VW Polo and Seat Ibiza cousins by employing a slightly more tasteful palette of trim materials and switchgear, that relationship hasn’t been entirely masked. Sure, it might exude more in the way of immediate opulence on first acquaintance, but closer inspection reveals the A1 is still home to its fair share of coarse, sometimes flimsy feeling plastics, and that its VW Group DNA is readily identifiable.
Of course, platform-sharing means an element of sameness is inevitable, and our top-specification S Line Style Edition model does make a more convincing play of its upmarket aspirations than the lower-rung trim levels do. So you get some copper-coloured inlays, as well as configurable LED ambient lighting and leather-upholstered sports seats all thrown in right out of the box.
All variants of the A1 – barring the forthcoming Vorsprung model – come with an 8.8in colour touchscreen that incorporates basic infotainment features such as Bluetooth, DAB radio, voice control and USB connectivity as standard.
Our test car, however, was fitted with the £1650 Technology Pack. In addition to upgrading the touchscreen to a 10.1in unit and introducing satellite navigation, this option pack also replaces the standard 10.25in digital cockpit with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and introduces a wireless phone charging pad and an embedded sim card for 4G internet access. It’s integrated cleanly into the surrounding dash structure and, framed by attractive gloss black plastic, lends the smallest hints of Audi big-car technological sophistication.
Graphically speaking, both the infotainment screen and the Virtual Cockpit are very impressive indeed, operating smoothly and without much in the way of lag. In terms of ergonomics, the touchscreen is simple to interact with when stationary, but the loss of the rotary controller used to operate earlier versions of Audi’s infotainment software means on-the-move adjustments are a bit trickier.
But while the interior of the A1 generally looks smart, some of our testers thought it wasn’t different enough from its VW Group siblings to justify its elevated price. That the car is over £5000 more expensive than an equivalent Seat Ibiza with the same engine isn’t easy to overlook.
However, of even greater concern is the competition from Mini. Not only does the British-built car’s upmarket interior look one of a kind, its list price is considerably cheaper too (although you do have to spend another four figures on option packs to bring the equipment levels into line). In top-tier Cooper Sport and Cooper Exclusive trims, a five-door Mini Hatch is nearly £5000 less expensive.