Audi A1 (2010 – 2015) Review
Audi A1 (2010 – 2015) At A Glance
If you're looking for the newer model, you'll need our Audi A1 Sportback review.
When Audi decided to join the small hatch set, it went in at the premium end of the market with the A1 to take on the likes of the MINI, DS3 and Alfa Romeo MiTo. The A1 condensed everything that Audi customers loved into a smaller package and it even came with some aluminium exterior panels to keep weight down and mimic the construction of the flagship A8 saloon and R8 sportscar. Its premium image meant A1 prices were steeper than an equivalent Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but the Audi justified this with a cabin that feels a very definite step up in quality.
Audi’s A1 rival for the MINI, DS3 and Alfa Romeo MiTo may have been a while in coming to replace the ground-breaking A1, but it more than made up for it in the quality it offered buyers.
Rather than simply lift parts from the existing A3 small hatch or elsewhere in the Volkswagen parts bin, Audi looked to its flagship A8 for inspiration. It’s why some of the switches and buttons you find in the A1 are the same as the A8’s, imparting a sense of solidity and eminent class that not even a MINI with its BMW background gets close to.
The same high class approach was applied to the A1’s equipment levels, which were generous even in the entry-point SE model. It has alloy wheels, air conditioning, a stereo with MP3 connectivity and plenty of safety equipment. There is also a natty 6.5-inch infotainment screen that set the A1 apart from its competition at launch.
Sport and S Line models rounded out the model range at launch. The Sport added, firmer suspension, a Bluetooth connection and Driver’s Information System, while the S Line gained larger alloy wheels, even stiffer suspension and half-leather upholstery. Later in its life, the A1 gained Black, Contrast and Style Edition versions.
There was also the rare as hen’s teeth A1 quattro with its 256PS 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and all-wheel drive. Only 333 of this 152mph pocket socker were built, so finding one will be the first hurdle to adding this modern classic to your garage.
Much more common are the 1.2- and 1.4-litre TFSI turbo petrols offered from launch. Both come with claimed fuel economy in the mid-50s and carbon dioxide emissions low enough to make road tax a non-issue. Both could be had with a manual gearbox or you could opt for the seven-speed S tronic with the larger petrol motor.
Audi also offered the 1.4-litre engine with cylinder-on-demand technology in 140 and later 150PS forms. These engines only provided fuel to half of the cylinders in light driving conditions to save fuel. Or, you could choose the 185PS 1.4 as the quickest non-quattro model.
A 1.0-litre TFSI engine was added in early 2015 with 95PS and this smaller engine feels very peppy and delivers 99g/km Co2 emissions and around 60mpg.
On the diesel front, the A1 started with a 105PS 1.6-litre unit with claimed figures of 70.6mpg combined economy and 105g/km CO2. A 143PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel became part of the line-up in 2011, while in late 2014 an improved 1.6 diesel was credited with 80.7mpg and 92g/km CO2 output.
All A1s are nimble to drive in town and are stable on the motorway. However, beware of the S Line’s harsher suspension as it brings an unwelcome crashiness to the A1’s ride without making it handle any better.
However, you will find the A1 offers more cabin and boot space than a MINI, making it a very strong contender in the small hatch stakes.