The A1 range kicks off with a very underwhelming-sounding 1.2-litre petrol. Thankfully, the tiny engine boasts power-boosting turbocharger and this, plus a lithe kerbweight, means the 85bhp petrol posts a reasonable 11.7-second 0-62mph sprint with a 112mph top speed. On the road it feels more than up to the task, even when driven with a passenger, but those who venture out of the city might want to consider the more powerful 120bhp 1.4 TFSI that’s also turbocharged. It hauls the A1 to 62mph in a more respectable 8.9 seconds and hits 126mph. The 1.6 TDI packs 104bhp and covers the 0-62mph dash in 10.5 seconds, running out of steam at 118mph. Out of the three it’s the most relaxed because it delivers its power low down in the rev range. If Audi A1 performance is your thing then go for the 180bhp 1.4TFSI that'll do 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 141mph, but if you want a powerful diesel then the 2.0-litre TDI that'll get to 62mph from a standstill in 7.9 seconds and go on to 135mph will be the preferred option.
Engine updates in 2015
The 1.2-litre petrol was replaced by a new 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder unit, the first in the Audi range, which is aimed at achieving diesel-style economy. Audi said this engine is capable of returning at least 60mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km, while producing 94bhp. The updated 1.6-litre diesel offers up to 80.7mpg with 92g/km output in manual configuration, says Audi.
The A1 doesn't handle as well as the MINI, which feels more balanced and agile in the corners, but it would be a crime to overlook the Audi for those less obsessed by ultimate driving finesse. Cynics might sniff at its VW Polo underpinnings but the Audi has plenty of grip and resists roll well in tight bends. It rides better and is quieter, more refined and grown-up than the MINI. It also has the option of a seven-speed double-clutch auto instead of a conventional automatic on the 120bhp 1.4 TFSI engine option. Real enthusiasts might be a little disappointed but most will be impressed with the auto's quick and smooth up-changes, enthusiastic down-changes as well as the fuel savings and low emissions.
Facelift brings handling upgrades
Steering was upgraded in 2015, with a new electromechanical system that backs off its assistance as the vehicle’s speed increases. Optional adjustable dampers were also offered for Sport models and above, adjusted by using Audi’s adaptive dynamics system, featuring three modes – auto, dynamic and efficiency.