Downsizing is becoming ever-more important and Audi now offers a new, high-quality entrant into the small car segment, the A1. It takes on the ever-popular MINI, but also cars like the Alfa Romeo MiTo. So how does it fit within the market?
Inside & Out: 8/10
There is no doubt that there will be an appetite for this car if the public's initial reactions to the Audi A1 are anything to go by. Audi steered clear of making the A1 overly cute or cartoon-like and the result is a car that won't lean towards one gender over the other in the way that the MINI traditionally has done. The A1 looks like a fun-size A3, but with the addition of more recent styling cues from the Audi range, such as that strong, aggressive single-frame grille and those distinctive headlights.
This is a car that needs the right wheels and trim and that is likely to tempt buyers to spend a little more than they intended in the Audi showroom. Thankfully you don't need to spend much over the odds to get the right look. Our Sport model came with 17-inch alloys, which can be exchanged for another style as a no cost option.
The interior is absolutely first-class. All the high-quality materials that you get in the larger Audi models are used . The fit and finish is truly excellent too. This now sets a benchmark for quality in the baby-executive segment.
Engine & Transmission: 8/10
Power in our test car is from a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and this is part of a trio of turbocharged engines - two petrol and one diesel. The 1.2-litre option has 86hp and the 1.6-litre diesel has 105hp. This version's 1.4-litre TFSI engine produces 125hp and 200Nm of torque. The 0-100km/h sprint takes 9.1 seconds with the seven-speed S-tronic transmission and the top speed is 200km/h.
The S-tronic transmission comes with paddle shifters and there is a Sport mode too. The gearbox reacts really quickly when you select the gears manually, but can be a little ponderous in automatic mode, and the 1.4-litre engine can roar a little loudly for our liking. Overall though this is a really good engine. It is refined, quiet most of the time and the power delivery is smooth. Engine stop-start is standard across the range and works well.
Ride & Handling: 8/10
All Audi A1s are on the firm side, but this model with a sportier set-up and 17-inch alloy wheels makes for quite a hard ride. The steering is very good in the A1, better than some of the larger Audi models, with much more feel than before. We put the A1 side-by-side with a new MINI and the handling isn't quite as razor sharp as the BMW-built car, but it is good nonetheless.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 7/10
Audi's A1 starts at €18,900 and that is for the 1.2-litre TFSI model with 85hp. The 1.4-litre TFSI with 125hp costs €21,300 and for €200 more you get the 1.6-litre TDI. The S tronic gearbox adds another €2,800 to the 1.4-litre TFSI. The Sport model adds €1,975 to all three engine models and the S-Line specification can be added to the 1.4-litre TFSI engine and the 1.6-litre TDI for €2,500.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, electric windows, ESP stability control with electronic axle differential lock and a three-spoke leather steering wheel.
Our test car ended up costing €30,556 with optional extras. These included xenon lights for €1,219 and €475 to have the contrast roof line in silver. The Concert Radio System, which has a 6.5-inch colour screen and aux-in connection isn't bad value at €576.
CompleteCar Index: 8/10
There is absolutely no doubt that the Audi A1 will be a success, as it is a very attractive little package that is likely to appeal to a wide range of customers, from young drivers to empty-nesters. What is interesting about this car too is that it isn't 'girly' - unlike the MINI - and will appeal to both sexes equally. A sure-fire hit.
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine
Maximum power: 125hp at 5,000rpm
Maximum torque: 200Nm at 1,500 - 4,000rpm
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 8.9 seconds
Max speed: 203km/h
Fuel economy (combined cycle): 5.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Motor tax band: A
Annual road tax: €104
Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €26,050