Audi A1 (2015) first drive review

Blink and you'll miss the changes to Audi's 2015 A1 range – but as we discovered, major changes weren't needed...

Audi A1 2015

The revised Audi A1 doesn’t look a lot different to its predecessor, but fuel economy is improved and a new 1.0-litre petrol engine adds further green car kudos.

Andrew Brady | December 2014

The A1 supermini has been revised in a typically Audi fashion. It’s a game of spot the difference between the old and new model – the front end has been tweaked so it appears slightly more aggressive, and all models are now available with sports suspension.

One of the big changes in the A1 range is the introduction of a three-cylinder engine: a 1.0-litre petrol unit that’ll be shared with the Polo. It’s the first time a three pot petrol has been offered in an Audi, and it’ll be replacing the 1.2-litre TFSI used in its predecessor.

Emissions and fuel economy have been improved across the board – figures for the 1.0-litre are to be confirmed, but it’ll achieve at least 60mpg on the combined cycle, says Audi, and emit less than 100g/km CO2.

Audi A1 2015

What’s the 2014 Audi A1 like to drive?

We tried the 1.0-litre unit with the seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. A combination you wouldn’t necessarily expect to work, but it does. Despite producing just 95hp the 1.0-litre A1 is sprightly around town, and the auto ‘box reacts quickly. The thrum of the triple even sounds surprisingly good.

Admittedly though, if you’re going to be driving your A1 on the motorway regularly, you’ll want to look at a more powerful version.

Luckily, then, the regular 1.4-litre TFSI has had power boosted to 125hp, while CO2’s down to 115g/km. Alternatively, there’s a cylinder-on-demand version available, which offers a healthy 150hp and CO2 output of 112g/km.

We tried the latter and found it an enjoyable supermini – almost nudging on warm hatch status. The cylinder deactivation is barely noticeable, and the engine is extremely quiet and refined. It’s not at Ford Fiesta ST levels of driving enjoyment, but it might be closer to a MINI than you’d expect.

The biggest criticism is the steering. As part of the facelift the old hydraulic power steering system has been replaced with an electromechanical system in a drive towards improved efficiency. It’s accurate enough for a city car, but it takes away some of the shine if you’re comparing it against the MINI.

Finally, there’s the 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine. With power boosted by 11hp to 116hp, and CO2 emissions reduced to 92g/km in the manual, it offers a good balance between performance and economy. It’ll return a remarkable 80.7mpg when combined with the five-speed manual ‘box.

Audi A1 2015

What’s the Audi A1’s interior like?

As supermini interiors go, the Audi A1’s is up there with the best. It feels well made, with greater equipment across the range. More chrome is featured as standard along with more gloss black detailing – minor things, perhaps, but they do a good job of lifting the already fairly premium interior.

Sport models now include Audi’s drive select and well as its music interface, which allows you to connect your phone or MP3 player and display artists and track names on the car’s display.

The A1 is available with three or five doors (known as the Sportback). Neither of which is particularly roomy, but for a car of this size it’s adequate. We’re talking 270 litres of bootspace (which stays the same for both the three-door and the Sportback) – that’s more than a three-door MINI hatch, but very slightly less than a five-door.

If we’re being picky (with prices starting at £15,390 until the 1.0-litre goes on sale later in 2015, we’re allowed to be), the seats are typical Audi – overly firm, while the offset pedals feel peculiar at first. Both of which we got used to, but take one for a test drive before you place an order.

Audi A1 2015

MR Verdict: 2015 Audi A1

Audi hasn’t changed a lot for the facelift of its new A1 supermini – but not a lot really needed changing. It remains up there with the best in its class, but you do pay for that.

Fuel economy and CO2 emissions have been improved so they remain level-pegging with competitors, while the new three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine will make for a sweet entry-level unit.

If you can justify the high purchase price, or are considering the Audi A1 as a company car, the 1.6-litre TDI offers staggering fuel economy and will prove to be extremely light on the wallet. Don’t dismiss the petrol models, however, they’re extremely refined, and not particularly thirsty.

Rivals: Audi A1

  1. Fiat 500
  2. Citroen DS3
  3. MINI hatch
  4. Volkswagen Polo
  5. Alfa Romeo Mito

The Alfa Romeo isn’t the strongest in this segment – but it does have a touch of Italian flair. The Citroen DS3 is a good value, fashionable choice, but lacks a five-door model. The Fiat 500 is a size smaller, but should be considered by anyone looking for a trendy city car. The MINI hatch is the most obvious rival of the A1, and has the edge on driving dynamics. The Volkswagen Polo offers much the same as the A1, for less money, but is a tad bland.

Specification: Audi A1

Engine: 1.0, 1.4 petrol, 1.6 turbodiesel

Gearbox: Five/six-speed manual, seven-speed auto

Price from: £15,390

Power: 95 – 150hp

Torque: 118 – 185 lb ft

0-62mph: 7.8 – 9.5 seconds (1.0-litre tbc)

Top speed: 134mph

MPG: 55.4 – 80.7

CO2: 92 – 118g/km

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Andrew Brady
Web editor at MR. Drives a 2005 Toyota MR2. Has a penchant for the peculiar.



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