A small Audi is big news in the car world. Signalling the brand’s first ever head-to-head battle with MINI – a car made by Audi’s arch enemy, BMW – the new A1 takes a very different, grown-up approach. Instead of focusing on fun, the A1 smacks of classy sophistication. There’s the usual soft-touch materials and leather dotted around the cabin along with some excellent technology on offer too. Quite frankly, nothing in its small premium class looks and feels so expensive behind the wheel even though underneath the smart-suited A1 is the humble Polo’s underpinnings.
As well as the general core, the A1 has also borrowed a number of VW engines with a wide choice of fuel efficient turbocharged petrol engines and cheap-to-run diesel models to pick from. There’s even a rather boisterous 134kw petrol model if you’re after something with a little added spice. The range of petrol engines kick off with the 66kw 1.2-litre and then the larger 110kw 1.4-litre. The range-topping petrol engine is the 180bhp turbo- and supercharged version to challenge the Mini Cooper S. This will deal with the 0-62mph sprint time in just 6.7 seconds and comes with the company’s excellent seven-speed automatic gearbox. Among the diesel options is the 1.6-litre TDI that is capable of achieving 4L/100km, according to Audi, as well as CO2 emissions of just 99g/km. This means annual tax costs are low as well as making it a more viable option for company car drivers.
Facelifted in 2015
A welcomed facelift came in 2015 with a wider grille, new bumpers and alloy wheel designs. These models also feature more equipment, as well as a raft of engines revisions. Making its Audi debut is a 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder unit, and the cylinder-on-demand engine has been given a power boost. Efficiency of the 1.6-litre diesel engine is up, with Audi promising 4L/100km and 92g/km of CO2.
Something that the smallest Audi in the range does have in common with its biggest rival, MINI, is the customisation and personalisation available for buyers. As well as the usual raft of options on offer from the German firm, there is the choice of contrasting rooflines along with a number of other additional equipment, even a bike rack is available for the little three-door. Because it’s a well-built, efficient, cheap-to-run stylish hatchback, the Audi A1 1.6 TDi SE scooped the Parkers Cost of Motoring Award for the small hatchback category in 2011.