The original A1 came out in 2010 and offered a premium package against a market full of “regular” small hatchbacks. Since then, however, standards for even the most popular of cars have risen sharply, so cars like the latest Volkswagen Polo feel elegant inside and out, and the Hyundai i20 and Ford Fiesta deliver driving appeal. Throughout its life, the previous A1 has remained largely the same in terms of design which means it is starting to feel very outdated by comparison. The latest model is more modern and looks updated even after a few years of sale, and is more practical than the original.
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Audi’s goal was to make the A1 the best car in the supermini class. They have created the Mini Super Mini that excels in terms of comfort and interior design, with a sophisticated design to boot. Indeed, with three vents atop a six-sided frameless grille designed to evoke memories of the Audi quattro, the humble A1 is arguably among the most sporty cars Audi makes today.
There are sharp lines pressed into the hood and prominent shoulders above the front and rear wheel arches. These are products from the same design language used in the Audi A5 Coupe and Audi Q8 SUV, showing that premium touches aren’t just keeping to the higher end of the Audi range.
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One of the biggest changes compared to the original A1 is the lack of a three-door version; The latest model is only available as a five-door Sportback. That’s great news for most buyers, and it’s hard to imagine that the A1 with fewer doors could look nicer. The five-door model makes the most sense for a practical family car, making the interior more usable, spacious and accessible.
The sophisticated interior of the more expensive Audi models has been ditched on the A1, with the same bold horizontal lines as seen on the Audi A8 luxury high-tech saloon. It might not have the multi-screen design of more expensive models, but the standard digital dashboard and the option of the glossy 10.1-inch MMI infotainment screen put the A1 at the forefront of the supermini class in terms of technology. You’ll find Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Departure Warning as standard as well.
Three petrol engines on offer but no diesel option. The 109-hp 1.0-liter TFSI is claimed to return around 53 mpg, which is very competitive with A1 competitors. Both sides are a 94 hp version of the 1.0 liter, 25 TFSI, as well as a 1.5 liter 35 TFSI with 148 hp. A 2.0-liter 40 TFSI engine with 204 hp was offered up front in the S line Competition, rivaling the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST, but production has since been discontinued.
With a decent, if not sparkling, 0-62 mph time of 10.5 seconds, the 30 TFSI should suit most A1 customers, especially with the smooth-shifting S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
We expect the best value in the lower end of the A1 package – while the striking S Line has a greater visual presence, the Sport is a great-looking car in its own right, and it’s much smoother on the road than the more aggressively set-up S Line. Instead, the Technik is more subtle to look at, and really misses the parking sensors and sports seats. You won’t find any A1 who wants standard equipment, with alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, a digital instrument panel, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto installed across the range.
Safety is excellent, as proven by the five-star Euro NCAP crash rating. Audi will want the latest A1 to perform somewhat better in our annual Driver Power Survey, given that it finished undistinguished 66th out of 75 cars. In the 2021 poll, Audi itself managed to take only 23rd place out of 29 brands. Its cars retain a desirable and upscale image, which is one reason why the A1 appears destined for sales success – even if the closely related Volkswagen Polo offers a similarly efficient package at a much lower price.
How about buying a used or almost new Audi A1?
You can save some money by choosing a used A1 instead of buying new, especially since the engine range is very limited. This is because you will most likely be able to find the template you want as a user example (although you will need to keep an eye on the option packages that have been added). The residual values for the Audi A1 are around 50 percent depending on which model you want – the S Line models seem to have their best value.
What is its history?
The Audi A1 arrived in 2010, so it’s a relative newcomer to the world of super small cars. For example, the competing MINI slot has been around for much longer. The previous Mk1 was available from 2010 through the current car’s arrival in 2018, with a facelift in 2014 to keep the model new, and an all-wheel-drive S1 sports version was added to the lineup as well.
The current model arrived in 2018, and while there is no S1 version, it has a sportier look and more modern technology. There was also a version called the Citycarver, which offered a more comfortable, elevated ride paired with an SUV-inspired look.
Used Audi A1 (Mk1 2010-2019)
The Mk1 Audi A1 and A1 Sportback are still very popular as a used car because the design is well aged, and the interior still has a level of quality that sets it apart from its competitors of the same age. Like the current car, it is not as fun or comfortable as the MINI, but it is a bit more practical, easy to drive, efficient and has a decent level of equipment.
Read the full review of the Audi A1 Mk1 here…