Review: Audi A1 - Is It A Polo With Designer Clothes?

Red Audi A1

What is the Audi A1? Is it a Polo with designer clothes? Or is it something more than the sum of its parts?

Some reviews are almost sneering about its links to the Polo. I don’t agree, particularly as the current Polo is the best one ever. It is almost as good as a Golf. Maybe they made it better as they knew it would be the platform for the mini Audi!

Anyway, the end result is nothing like a Polo either to drive or to look at. It has all the qualities that have made Audi one of the most sought-after premium brands in recent years. What a timely arrival at a time when many are thinking about downsizing.

Here is a way to cut down on the purchase bill and the running costs.
The petrol and diesel engines are so efficient that they are exempt from car tax for the first year. Experts are already predicting that the A1 will hold its value better than its rivals.

Red Audi A1The red car in my drive looks cute with its contrasting silver roofline panel. You can even get jazzy patterned upholstery far removed from the staidness of Audis past. Yes, with those looks and style, the younger generation will be taking an interest.

The A1 is also a beautiful little car to drive, thanks to its smooth engines and excellent sound deadening. You can get the latest VW group small turbo pertrol units of 1.2 and 1.4 litres – impressively smooth. But I have spent most time with the 1.6 turbo diesel models which will be the choice of high milers.
The 1.6 turbo diesel is one of the quietest small diesels around and it makes good use of its 105PS output. It comes with a slick six-speed manual gearbox and can accelerate to 62mph in 10.5 seconds. Fuel consumption is outstanding with 70mpg on the Combined Cycle and emissions are just 105g/km.

There is the option of the brilliant seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox on some A1 models. It can be ‘manually’ operated by steering wheel paddles. Generally, I prefer manual gearboxes but this auto is winning me over. Its performance is identical to the manual and economy and emissions are a tad better.

The A1 sits confidently on the road with advanced electronics such as stability control to keep things under control. All engines have stop-start to save fuel in traffic and braking energy is recaptured to improve efficiency. Again all the ‘Technik’ that you expect from an Audi.

Audi A1 interiorIt is the same thing sitting behind the wheel of the A1 where the ambience feels just like the larger models. There are the same crystal clear dials, precise minor controls and quality finish. You can also get the sophisticated multi media ‘infotainment’ packages from the big A8 flagship saloon.

The option list is similar to that of the ‘adult’ Audis. It includes Xenon lighting with LED running lights, full electronic climate control, light and rain sensors and a 180 watt sound system with a barrage of speakers throughout the car.

Of special interest in these tight times is a £250 service plan which covers private customers for five years or 50,000 miles. Now that is A1 in my book.

SUM UP

AUDI A1 1.6 TDi Sport manual
ENGINE – 1.6-litre turbo diesel developing 105PS
PERFORMANCE – 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, 118mph top speed potential
ECONOMY – 70mpg on Combined Cycle
EMISSIONS – 105g/km carbon dioxide
INSURANCE (1-50) – Group 14
PRICE – £15,675


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