Road Test by Mark Slack: Audi A1 – an accomplished and entertaining drive

Road Test by Mark Slack: Audi A1 – an accomplished and entertaining drive. Image - Audi

When you think of Audi its SUVs, sports cars and luxury saloons spring to mind. However, the renowned German car maker does produce a small hatchback that is arguably a forgotten member of the Audi sales brochures.

The A1 is a 5-door hatchback with just two engine options in three power outputs and four trim levels. The model nomenclature of Audi is, without doubt, one of the most confusing and bears no resemblance to the engine size. My test model was a 30 TFSi which actually translates into a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol turbocharged unit. This 1.0-litre unit forms the bulk of the A1 power units and comes in various power outputs and there is also a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder unit developing 150PS. There are 5 and 6-speed manual gearboxes plus a 7-speed S-Tronic automatic.

Standard fare on the lead-in model is good with all the essentials provided and priced from €24,582/£20,840 with equipment such as LED lights, powered heated and folding door mirrors, light and rain sensors, air conditioning and smartphone connectivity. My test model was the Black Edition with 110PS 1.0-litre power unit mated to the S-Tronic automatic. With optional paintwork and extra cost option packs the price of my test car rises from €31,294/£26,530 to €36,800/£31,195.

Inside the A1 has all the usual Audi qualities with a premium feel, nice finishes on the dashboard and despite some hard plastics at lower levels you just know this is no bargain basement model. Buttons rather than digitisation makes a welcome change inside the A1, and another bonus is the ease with which you can switch off the overly interventionist lane-keep and other supposed driver assistance features.

On the road, the A1 is an accomplished drive with particularly sharp steering so twisting roads can be very enjoyable. In automatic form the performance is adequate rather than exciting, the manual gearbox offers a slightly more sparkling performance. That said the automatic is still very entertaining and takes the strain from urban traffic commutes. Rough roads show up the firmness of the suspension but the handling does add to the entertainment on cross-country drives.

Overall, this is a really nice, driveable and largely practical, given its size, car. Unsurprisingly, given we’re talking Audi, there’s a premium feel and everything just works. Competitors arguably offer better value on price point versus equipment but those four rings on the grille signify this isn’t just another small hatchback.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Audi A1 Black Edition 30 TFSi S-Tronic

Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, turbo, petrol

Gears: 7-Speed automatic

Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 10.6 seconds/Maximum Speed 202 kmh (126 mph)

Economy: 5.08l/100km (46.3mpg) Combined driving (WLTP)

Emissions: 139 g/km (WLTP)

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.

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