Audi A1 Sportback Review
In terms of the big three German marques - Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - if you are looking for a premium car in the smallest package, only Audi offers up a conventional B-segment model, the A1.
So for those who don’t need a large car but aren’t prepared to compromise on refinement, a compact Audi could make good sense. Okay, along with the perceived premium badge is its elevated price tag but strong residual prices mean finance deals can be favourable. It goes further than this of course: in our climate-conscious times, running a smaller car, with a modest engine offering good economy is less wasteful. The million dollar question of course is whether the A1 still offers the luxury and refinement of the larger Audis.
The new A1
The new A1 Sportback has grown significantly. Extended by 56mm, it is now just over four metres in length. It appears more of a grown-up car than its predecessor too and is now only available as the five-door Sportback. Styling is more closely-aligned to the larger A3; the all-new body has received nips and tucks making it sharper all over. Above the rear wheels is a stronger shoulder line and the proportions of glass to body give it a strong, and typically Audi appearance. Up front, there are the three distinct air vents beneath the lip of the bonnet above the oversized mesh grille we are all familiar with.
All A1 models
have the Audi-tailored digital instrument cluster with 10.25-inch display as
standard. This complements the improved main infotainment display - one of the
neatest and clearest around - with slick switching between the car’s menus and
cabin, build quality looks good and our Sport trim level has the fabric seats,
which are attractively finished and comfortable. The load space is a generous 270 litres in the boot (extending to
920 with seat down).
features are LED headlights and Audi pre sense,
where hazards ahead are detected by radar, and acoustic and visual signals
given to warn the driver. If necessary, the car will initiate automatic
emergency braking to try to prevent a collision.
Engines and trims
Adopting Audi’s new format for power outputs, the A1 is available with the 25 TFSI (95PS), 30 TFSI (116PS), 35 TFSI (150PS) or 40 TFSI S Line Competition (200PS) engines, all of which are petrol.
Basic trim levels are the Technik, Sport and S Line, with three specific versions of the S Line: Competition, Contrast Edition and Style Edition. All models are available as manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox, although the entry 25 engine is five-speed manual rather than six.
Just added to the range is the citycarver, a slightly ruggedised variant with an impressive extra 40mm of ground clearance.
Putting it through its paces
Our test of the
new A1 could hardly have been more demanding. We packed in five people plus
luggage for a return 450-mile trip to Scotland. Naturally, there isn’t quite the interior space of the
larger Audi models but it is still decent, with good room for average height
adults front and rear.
The 30 TFSI in
manual guise proved a great match for the A1, balancing sufficient power to
shift a (very) full car without fuss but delivering sensible fuel consumption.
Importantly, it sits in the 15E insurance band (rather than 21E for the 35
extends to the car’s ride. We often criticise overly-firm suspension but the A1
on its standard 16-inch alloy wheels gets it just about right, offering the
crispness and control when the conditions allow for a more spirited drive yet
delivering an accomplished ride on Britain’s varied road surfaces. And whether
just one person on board or five-up, it always remained well-composed.
The little big Audi
The new A1 isn’t
actually that small - in fact it’s barely shorter than the first generation A3.
So whether you are starting your path into the Audi range or downsizing, the A1
really does manage a bigger car feel. It’s not only pleasing and refined, it’s
darned capable too.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter