Classy Audi offers value for money on all roads

The Audi A1.
The Audi A1.
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THE Audi A1 has proven hugely popular and the 1.2-litre TFSI engine has been the powerplant in most demand.

As the entry-level engine in the line up, it offers the best value, and very strong economy and emissions. If you’re looking to downsize and need something classy and cost-effective, you could certainly do a lot worse than this smart Audi.

The 1.2-litre TFSI engine might be small but it punches above its weight.

True, the 86bhp power output might not sound particularly ballistic, but the A1 is light on its feet, and will get to 60mph in just 11.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 112mph.

That’s more than respectable for a city car and endows the A1 with genuine long distance credentials.

It won’t get swamped while negotiating motorway inclines, nor will you have to nervously check the rear view for artics with big closing speeds when joining a main road.

It’s got the power to accelerate cleanly and blend smoothly.

There’s not a lot that’s particularly novel about the A1’s underpinnings, the chassis being shared with the latest generation Volkswagen Polo.

That means tried and tested strut suspension up front and a compact torsion beam arrangement at the back.

Ride quality is firm and there’s not the effervescence of a MINI but available cornering grip is augmented by a clever stability control system.

The A1 adheres to typical contemporary Audi design language. If you’ve driven an A3 or an A4, you’ll feel very much at home here, as indeed Audi has intended in order to attract customers looking to downsize.

The cabin is quiet and maturely finished with no speedometers the size of dinner plates or garish graphics.

Audi contend that if you’re downsizing from a bigger car, you expect big car sophistication and the A1 serves that up in spades.

Everything is soft touch, silicon damped and consistent in feel and design.

The exterior offers little clue as to the potency of this car, Audi again deciding against an extrovert alloy wheel and spoiler combination.

Rumours that this car was going to be the S1 but then was deliberately toned down seem credible. The contrasting roof arch remains the A1’s most distinctive feature.

The A1 body can only afford so much interior space in a package 3954mm long, but the 267-litre boot extends to a respectable 920 litres if you drop the back seats.

It’s a little bigger than most city cars but is aced for space by a lot of superminis.

The Audi A1 is one of those cars that’s tough to arrive at a definitive conclusion.

It’s undoubtedly a popular and competent car, but it’s also one that while barely putting a foot wrong, also does nothing with any real excellence.

One suspects it’s trading a little on the badge, but then you drive it, are seduced by what a genuinely likeable car it is and how well it would mesh with your requirements and you forgive it its high price and its slightly unexceptional dynamics.

The 1.2-litre TFSI is the best compromise engine in the range. Yes, the diesel is far more economical, and the 1.4-litre TFSI is a good deal quicker but the sweet spot in the line up is the 1.2-litre model, probably in Sport trim.

As a choice for those looking to switch out of a bigger car, the A1 is a prime pick.

The cabin has much the same look and feel and the badge doesn’t suggest that hard times have visited. It’s a more cerebral pick than many realise.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Audi A1 1.2 TFSI

PRICE: £13,420 - £16,610

INSURANCE GROUP: 9

CO2 EMISSIONS: 118g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph 11.4s / top speed 112mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 55.4mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP, ABS, twin front , curtain and side airbags

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/heightmm 3954/1740/1416

By Andy Enright