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Audi A1 Review - prices, specs and 0-60 time
Audi is the only premium maker to tackle Mini on its own turf, the A1 three- and five-door (Sportback in Audi parlance) aiming directly at the plucky Brit. The A1 might lack the nostalgic charm offensive that’s the British offering, but it makes up for that with a blend of Audi’s Teutonic attention to detail, neat design and beautiful, class-leading interior. The range is topped by the 227bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged S1 with quattro four-wheel drive, but it’s the more ordinary versions that make up the bulk of sales. It’s pretty mundane underneath, being related to the VW Polo, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt its popularity one bit.
The A1 might be aiming directly at the Mini as competition, but only a handful of the variants are genuinely fun to drive and the 1.4 TSI model is the pick of the bunch. They all have the capacity to please, but you’ll be happy behind the wheel because of the beautiful environment you’re situated in, rather than any deep-seated desire to drive it. Sport trim brings stiffer suspension, to the detriment of ride comfort, but thankfully it’s a free de-select option, and despite the evo mantra, we’d recommend doing without.
The Audi A1 doesn’t offer any real surprises in its line-up, not breaking from Audi’s usual paradigm. So there’s a competent, rather than sparkling dynamic make-up, with a range of engines that’ll please if not cajole you into really enjoying them. The rev-happy 1.0 and 1.4 TFSI petrol engines are the most interesting from a driving point of view, though the 1.6-litre TDI diesel does offer occasional amusement thanks to its mid-range punch. In isolation it’s a commendable, upmarket, if expensive supermini, but if you bring the Mini into the mix the Audi’s shortcomings behind the wheel are far more apparent.
You’ll like it, but it’ll never surprise or excite like the best, enthusiastic small and light superminis can; the A1 feels very much like a sensible premium car made small, rather than a fun small car made premium.
Performance and 0-60 time > A 93bhp engine sees the A1 hit 62mph in 10.9sec and reach a top speed of 116mph. If you want performance then look to the S1 quattro.
Engine and Gearbox > All 1-litre Audi A1s come with a five-speed transmission as standard, while TDI models and 1.4-litre TFSI-equipped cars have a six-speed ’box. A dual-clutch ’box is offered as an option.
Ride and handling > The Audi A1 is not a playful machine – it’s a sensible, grown-up car. It corners well, but with no enthusiasm.
MPG and running costs > If fuel economy is your goal then the TDI model is the one to go for – it manages a combined 80.7mpg and dodges road tax due to minimal carbon dioxide emissions.
Prices, specs and rivals > The cheapest A1 – the 1-litre TFSI – starts at just under £14,000. It’s the closest rival for the new Mini, but lacks the special verve that the reinvented British icon possesses.
Interior and tech > Fit and finish in the A1 is what you would expect of an Audi – it’s superb. The 2015 Audi A1 also has cylinder-on-demand technology, which improves fuel economy.
Design > The A1 is a good-looking, polished hatch that impressively translates Audi’s chiseled design language into supermini form.