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Audi A1 (2011-2017) Review and Prices

The Audi A1 is the smallest model the German carmaker sells, but it’s been injected with all the qualities that make us love the firm’s larger models – it’s solidly built, boasts impressive features and high-tech engines. It might cost more than the Fiat 500 or a Vauxhall Adam, but then it feels like it does.

Buy or lease the Audi A1 (2011-2017) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £14,325 - £24,250
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Used
£8,626
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wowscore
7/10
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Quality feel
  • Good interior
  • Not bad to drive

What's not so good

  • Iffy ride quality
  • Cramped rear
  • Expensive

Find out more about the Audi A1 (2011-2017)

Is the Audi A1 (2011-2017) a good car?

There is one problem, though, and it’s called the Mini hatchback. The British-built challenger is three years younger than the Audi and that shows in its higher-quality cabin and the detailed graphics of its infotainment screen.

It’s also a good deal more fun to drive, but the A1 is still easy to operate and has great all-round visibility. All engines are economical too, with the 1.0-litre petrol the perfect choice for a city runabout, and the 1.6-litre diesel serves as a great motorway companion. Of course, the super-fast S1 isn’t as frugal, but few rivals can match its performance.

 

A lofty sticker price but low running costs and a premium badge make this a great premium city runabout

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert

If you want the kudos of Audi’s premium badge, but in a smaller package that’s ideal for city driving, then the Audi A1 is a desirable model, especially when Mercedes and BMW have yet to launch direct rivals. Arguably its biggest obstacle comes from within its own ranks – the Volkswagen Polo offers broadly the same classy experience but costs quite a bit less.

For more in-depth and detailed analysis of the A1, read through the Interior, Practicality, Driving and Specifications sections of our review over the following pages.

How much is the Audi A1 (2011-2017)?

The Audi A1 (2011-2017) has a RRP range of £14,325 to £24,250. The price of a used Audi A1 (2011-2017) on Carwow starts at £8,626.

How practical is it?

The Audi A1 will surprise you with how roomy it is in the front, but it’s more cramped in the back, and if you regularly carry rear-seat passengers, the five-door A1 Sportback may make more sense

The A1 is a great little car, but that's the problem: it really is quite a little car

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
270 litres
Boot (seats down)
920 litres

By small-car standards, the Audi A1 is decently spacious up front. Head and legroom is reasonable enough, but the same can’t be said for the comparatively cramped rear. There, headroom is really tight thanks to the low roof and the seating is really upright – so not great for tall adults on long journeys.

Fitting a child seat is a bit of a faff in the A1 because it’s a two-door car, so access to the rear seats is already compromised. However, there’s more – once folded, the front seat doesn’t want to stay folded, so it keeps hitting you in the back while you attempt to locate the isofix points which are more difficult to spot than contact lenses dropped in the sea.

Another drawback is that, unlike cheaper rivals such as the Renault Clio and Toyota Yaris, the Audi A1 only has two rear seats. That can be rectified by choosing the £620 more expensive Audi A1 Sportback which gets a full-sized bench.

For such a small car, cabin storage areas are pretty good, but then again this is an Audi and not a Citroen DS3. This means you get a full-size glovebox, storage for many water bottles and an infotainment screen that can be tucked away into the dashboard when not in use. This may be a city runabout, but it’s still an Audi, so there is a mountain of options you can add and one of them is called the Storage Pack. Costing £110 pounds, it adds a storage compartment under the front passenger seat, a net on the side of the centre console and a storage tray with three cupholders in place of the middle rear seat.

At 270 litres, the Audi A1’s boot is a fairly good size, being about on par with competitors such as the Citroen DS3. It also has plenty of hooks, tether points and storage areas, and an adjustable boot floor is yours for £205. However, owners of the hot hatch S1 model will have to make do with 60 litres less (due to its all-wheel drive system), and all Audi A1 models suffer from a small step when the rear seats are folded, so it’s not as practical as the capacity suggests. Have a look at our Audi A1 dimensions guide to see exactly how big the A1 is.

What's it like to drive?

After just a few miles on the road, the thing that strikes you is just how easy the A1 is to drive. The A1 has a rather limited engine line-up, for an Audi at least. However, all of them are impressive for different reasons – the diesel claims over 70mpg and the new 1.0-litre turbo is a great all-rounder with zippy performance and a nice exhaust note.

It’s generally quiet too and, on the whole, visibility is really good

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert

Those wanting a choice of diesel engines will be disappointed by having just one option to choose from: a 1.6-litre four-cylinder, with an ample 116hp to help move the car along.

Redemption comes with news that this is easily the most efficient engine in the range: all models with the 1.6 TDI fitted are exempt from road tax, thanks to the sub-100g/km of CO2 emissions, and fuel economy of more than 75mpg is possible.

Only one major issue appears to hamper the 1.6 TDI – it isn’t a particularly refined engine. However, if you frequently drive on longer journeys or plan on owning the car for a while, its low running costs will save you money.

Though the petrol range is still a bit limited, you do get a choice. Buyers can opt for an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder or a mildly-tweaked 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine, the latter of which is offered with two power outputs.

Of the two, it’s the smaller 1.0-litre that’s easier to recommend, given it’s a step up from the 1.2-litre unit it replaces and offers excellent fuel economy (even models with the fuel-sapping S-tronic auto can return 64mpg). Sub-100g/km CO2 emissions mean there’s no road tax bill to pay for the manual version, either, though the higher emissions on S-Tronic cars result in an annual £30 tax bill.

 

Those willing to sacrifice a bit more at the pumps for extra pace will probably find the 123hp 1.4-litre petrol to be the better fit, since it offers much more straight line speed whilst still returning over 56mpg. A more powerful 148hp version of the same engine comes with Audi’s fuel-saving Cylinder on Demand technology that shuts down two of the engine’s four cylinders under light throttle loads, though it’s only available with the top-spec S-Line trim.

For outright performance, the 230hp turbocharged 2.0-litre unit found in the S1 nails it. It dispatches the 0-62mph dash in a truly rapid 5.8 seconds and doesn’t stop accelerating until it hits its 155mph speed limiter. All that performance comes at the expense of running costs, though, thanks to fuel economy of 40.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 162g/km for road tax of £140.

The A1 is the cheapest Audi you can buy, but that hasn’t stopped the people from Ingolstadt giving it three separate suspension set-ups. Sadly, instead of ranging from soft through to normal and firm, it seems to favour a firm, firmer, and rock solid setup.

That said entry-level SE models ride decently if you stick to the standard 15-inch wheels, but go up one wheel size to the mid-range Sport model with its lower suspension and it begins to get uncomfortable. Top-spec S-Line cars get an even firmer set-up and are really rock-hard – something that isn’t helped by the comparatively large standard 18-inch alloy wheels. The good news is you can have the SE suspension as a no-cost option on other trim levels. Similarly to a Mini, you can also get adaptive dampers with selectable driving modes for another £495.

Despite the sloping roofline, all-round visibility is very good and you can spec up rear parking sensors for £345. The seat and steering wheel have a wide range of adjustment so it is easy to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Those expecting the Audi A1 to take the fight straight to the Mini hatchback and Ford Fiesta in the handling department will be disappointed. Though the steering is precise and overall body control is well contained, the handling dynamics are sensible rather than exciting.

The S1, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. It won’t entertain you quite like the Ford Fiesta ST, but with the standard quattro four-wheel drive, it is incredibly quick, no matter the weather. It feels like such a big step over the regular A1, that we’ve written a separate Audi S1 review.

What's it like inside?

Audi’s well-known for its cars’ interiors, and – despite it being the cheapest and one of the oldest models in the lineup – the Audi A1 still has one of the better interiors in its class.

Audi A1 (2011-2017) colours

Metallic - Floret silver
Free
Metallic - Glacier white
Free
Metallic - Mythos black
Free
Pearl - Misano Red
Free
Solid - Amalfi white
Free
Solid - Brilliant black
Free
Solid - Shell white
Free
Special solid - Cumulus blue
From £200
Metallic - Ice silver
From £340
Metallic - Samoa orange
From £340
Metallic - Scuba blue
From £340
Metallic - Shiraz red
From £340
Metallic - Sphere blue
From £340
Metallic - Teak brown
From £340
Pearl - Daytona grey
From £340
Pearl - Phantom black
From £340
Metallic - Arrow grey
From £390
Metallic - Nano grey
From £390
Metallic - Siam Biege
From £390
Metallic - Utopia blue
From £390
Next Read full interior review
Buy or lease the Audi A1 (2011-2017) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £14,325 - £24,250
Carwow price from
Used
£8,626
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare used deals