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Audi A1 Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2018
      Body type
      Small hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Bigger, better, but not posher ”

Best bits

  •  Sleek looks
  •  Wide choice of petrol engines
  •  Plenty of room in the cabin and boot

Not so great

  • Firm ride in cars with Sport suspension
  • 40 TFSI doesn’t feel as brisk as it should
  • Cabin quality disappoints in some areas

Read by

Audi A1 Exterior Front

Overall verdict

Audi A1 Interior

On the inside

Audi A1 Driving Front

Driving

Audi A1 Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi A1 Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The second generation Audi A1 Sportback dares to be a little funkier than its predecessor, placing it ideally between the sobriety of the Volkswagen Polo and the style-led MINI. It makes the A1 a very appealing small hatch as you get much of the looks and all of the quality of larger Audis in a city-busting car."

Audi A1 Exterior Front

This is not to say the A1 is small. Far from it as it has grown in every direction compared to the first generation of the model that was launched in 2010. When Audi unveiled this replacement in 2018, the A1 had ditched the three-door model and stuck solely to the five-door Sportback version. This makes the A1 a more versatile and practical car for its owners, as well as giving the opposition more competition while not compromising on driving dynamics.


It’s good to drive in town or on the open road, though Audi has yet to learn lessons from the original A1 about firm suspension settings. This latest A1 Sportback comes with a standard supple set-up, but models with the Sport suspension remain too harsh on most roads.


Also ushered in with this A1 Sportback is Audi’s slightly confusing engine identifying nomenclature. It starts with the 95PS 25 TFSI petrol, which is the first of four turbo petrol motors on offer and has a five-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed S tronic auto. Next up is the 30 TFSI with 116PS and a choice of six-speed manual or the S tronic transmission.


Top of the pile for most trims is the 35 TFSI 1.5 with 150PS and only available with the S tronic gearbox. If you opt for the S Line Competition model with its 40 TFSI boot badge, you get a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor with 200PS to make this the quickest A1 Sportback in the line-up and this model also comes with stiffer, adjustable sports suspension.


As for trim levels, Audi launched the A1 Sportback with SE as the entry-point to the range, but this has since been renamed Technik. It’s far from basic thanks to 15-inch alloy wheels, LED lights front and rear, while inside there’s Audi’s Smartphone interface and an 8.8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment.


Next in line is the Sport that adds larger 16-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, cruise control and some sporty front seats. S Line customers are treated to 17-inch alloy wheels, exterior styling pack including a more aggressive front grille, and firmer Sport suspension.


There are three additional versions of the S Line, starting with the Contrast Edition that has 18-inch alloys, darkened headlight lenses, Python yellow paint. It also has a gloss black roof, door mirrors and other outside details in this finish. Choose the Style Edition and you get different alloys in a bronze finish, while inside there’s and LED Ambient Lighting pack. The big change for the Competition is its more potent engine, but it also comes with red brake calipers and platinum grey wheels and door mirror caps.


Finally, the Vorsprung model ups the ante with its own 18-inch wheel design and front sports seats trimmed in Alcantara and leatherette. Audi also includes its MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch infotainment as well as the Virtual Cockpit that lets you configure the main dash display with a variety of different screens.


Is the Audi A1 Sportback right for you?

There’s a lot to admire in the way the Audi has styled the A1 Sportback. It has just the right blend of sporty and chic for those who will be drawn to the premium end of the supermini crowd.


Audi has also judged the cabin very well thanks to enough space in the cabin for it to work as your only car, though many will end up as the second in a household. We’d still be happy to use the A1 as the prime mover thanks to its ability to eat up motorway miles.


Every A1 Sportback comes well fitted out with standard luxury and safety kit, showing up many of its mainstream rivals. Even the most basic A1 makes it rivals seem a bit mean with their equipment, which makes the Sportback fit right in as a scaled down rather than scaled back small Audi.


What’s the best Audi A1 Sportback model/engine to choose?

With a broad range of turbo petrol engines to pick from, it’s easy to tailor the A1 Sportback to your needs. If you only ever drive around town, the 25 TFSI 1.0-litre with 95PS will be all you ever need, but we reckon the 116PS version is the wiser choice for its greater flexibility.


Much as we like the extra power of the 2.0-litre 40 TFSI with 200PS, it doesn’t feel as hot hatch swift as it should for a car that cracks 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.


Which leads us like Goldilocks to the 35 TFSI with its 150PS. City drivers will appreciate the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, but we’d recommend most to stay with the easy action six-speed manual transmission. In this form, the A1 Sportback is a very strong supermini contender, especially of you avoid the more stiffly suspended Sport and S Line models or delete this when you order the car.


What other cars are similar to the Audi A1 Sportback?

Classy small hatch buyers are not short of choice and MINI is the big rival to the Audi A1 Sportback. The MINI is more overtly styled to stand out, which some will prefer more than others.


Competition also comes from the A1’s cousins from elsewhere in the greater Volkswagen empire in the forms of the Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia. All are very capable and the Polo especially has premium aspirations.


Don’t forget the superb Ford Fiesta in its various guises, or the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 that have many appealing strengths.


Learn more

Audi A1 Interior

On the inside

Audi A1 Driving Front

Driving

Audi A1 Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi A1 Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification