The latest iteration of the Audi A1 is a driving pleasure. In a sector in which driving experience is often compromised by all round comfort and practicality, this car is an exhilarating revelation.
But then you’d expect that. It may be small, but this is, after all, an Audi. Despite being pitched into the fiercely competitive compact small hatchback sector, Audi has stuck to its principles with this car. The result is a sporty offering every bit as well-equipped and enjoyable to drive as its bigger brothers.
I test drove the A1 2.0 TDI Contrast Edition three-door. This is a big engine for such a small car and its 143 bhp diesel-powered performance is gutsy and responsive.
The A1 has a distinctive sculpted exterior design which is unmistakably Audi from the front, with the famous four-rings grille and big headlamps. A tastefully small spoiler completes the attractive side and rear view. My test car – the Contrast Edition – came in a striking Misano red, with smart silver trim around the windows and along the sills.
Internally, the A1 feels roomy for its size, particularly in the front where driver and passenger don’t feel squeezed together as in many smaller cars.
Headroom is good, but legroom in the rear is a bit of a squeeze for long-legged passengers. In a car this size there has to be a compromise somewhere, and the lack or rear legroom is made up for with a larger than expected boot.
Interior design is functional and unmistakably Audi – with the use of good quality trim materials. The heated front seats (£255 extra) are solid and supportive.
The 2.0 turbo-charged diesel unit has a 0-60 time of around eight seconds. This is a sprightly power plant with enjoyably responsive pull throughout the gears. Coupled to a slick six speed manual gearbox it feels as if it’s always got power in reserve, while still returning an incredibly frugal 68.9 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.
A high level of equipment includes a good radio and music package with Bluetooth interface and a pre-loaded jukebox. My test car was also fitted with satellite navigation at a fairly hefty £1225. You also get electric mirrors, electric windows and an on-board computer. The Contrast Edition trim level also gives you very nice alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and automatic stop/start, which can be over-ridden if you want to. On the road price, without extra options, is £18,870. Other options fitted to my test car included Xenon headlights (£955) acoustic rear parking aid ((£305) and electronic climate control ((£205). All the options took the total price, including delivery, number plates, road fund licence and first registration fee to £23,705.
The A1 is a great introduction for people new to the Audi range, and is good enough to get you hooked on Audi’s technology through progress.