The Audi A1 has light controls, is very comfortable for a small car and has a good choice of engines. Although it’s got plenty of grip in bends, it’s too detached to be a rewarding drive
By March 2019, the Audi A1 will be available with four petrol engines – called the 25, 30, 35 and 40 – although only the 30 is available from the car’s November 2018 launch. With no diesel engine available, the A1 can’t offer the spectacularly low running costs of some alternatives, but it’s still pretty frugal.
The 30 TFSI, for example – which has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine – should return 50mpg easily enough (Audi quotes 58.9mpg). With 116hp, it accelerates from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds, so it feels spritely in town and quick enough on the motorway, too. Its engine can be a little thrummy under acceleration but its six-speed gearbox helps it settle to a quiet cruise.
The Audi A1’s 1.5-litre petrol engine can switch off half its cylinders to save fuel
If you’ll do a lot of motorway driving, then you’ll be better off with the four-cylinder 150hp 35 TFSI. It feels pretty quick, is smoother and quieter than the 30 and shouldn’t cost much more to run.
Both the 30 and the 35 are available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox that can be a little jerky when you move off but is otherwise very good. Oddly, the top-of-the-range 40 TFSI gets a six-speed automatic as standard.
With a 200hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the 40 TFSI has a proper turn of speed, but if you’re looking for a car to put a smile on your face then you’ll get far more handling thrills from a Ford Fiesta ST.
You’ll be impressed how well the Audi A1 Sportback deals with a variety of different roads.
On the motorway, the Audi is quiet for a small car and comes with a lane departure-warning system that help keep it in lane. A speed limiter is also standard – so you don’t have to worry about getting snapped by a camera – and you get automatic emergency braking as standard that’ll limit the severity of a collision or prevent it entirely. It’ll detect cars, but also pedestrians and cyclists.
Active cruise control is an option you should consider if you do lots of motorway driving. It can brake and accelerate the A1 automatically – slowing the Audi to match the speed of the car in front before returning to your preset cruising speed when the way’s clear.
Head off the motorway and into town and you’ll find the Audi A1’s light controls and small size make it ideal for nipping down tight streets and squeezing into parking spaces.
Sport and S line models come as standard with rear parking sensors, but you can pay extra for a reversing camera with guidelines that help you aim the car into its space. Another option is auto park which can choose a space big enough for the car and steer it into position while you operate the accelerator and brake.
The auto park can also steer you out of your space, and once you’re outside the city and on faster country roads you’ll find the A1 Sportback has plenty of grip and doesn’t lean much in bends. It’s more comfortable than a Ford Fiesta, too, but ultimately doesn’t have the Ford’s levels of agility.