Audi A1 1-litre TFSI SE 3 door road test

  • The smallest car in the Audi family receives a facelift
  • New 1-litre engine impresses while on test
  • Our test car costs £14,315, deliveries from spring

This is the revised Audi A1, and although it may look very similar to before, it boasts all-new engines, additional kit, and styling tweaks inside and out.

Available to order now with first deliveries in the Spring, we've been driving it for the first time to see how it compares to the new Mini hatch and Citroen DS3.

Key design changes

Exterior enhancements to the A1 have been discreet with a new wider front grille, tweaked headlight design, new front and rear bumpers and revised alloy wheels. 

Inside has been spruced-up too, with a range of new interior fabrics now available plus new finishing touches on the dials and switches around the car making them look and feel higher quality.   

There's a wide range of options to choose from to make your A1 feel unique, with different coloured decals, headlight tweaks and three new exterior colours: Nano grey, Utopia blue and Shell white.

Brand new engine

There are now six engines in the A1 range, and our test car is fitted with an all-new 1-litre petrol engine. It's the first ever three-cyclinder engine from the German brand.

The new engine, which will be coming soon to the Volkswagen Polo, replaces the 1.2 TFSI. On paper the signs are promising with emissions of only 99g/km of CO2, meaning tax is free for retail buyers and company car drivers will have low monthly tax bills. An official fuel economy figure of around 60mpg will keep running costs fairly low too, though we doubt you'll get as high as that in the real world. 

When it comes to power there is 94bhp at your disposal along with 125Nm of torque, which translates to brisk and eager performance out on the road. This car is quick and characterful away from the lights - its 0-62mph time of 11.6 seconds does not seem to do the car justice. 

There is a little engine noise, and the car can struggle on steeper hills, especially when laden with bags and passengers. However, changing down a gear on the five-speed manual box quickly rectifies the situation. The A1 is at home around city streets and surprisingly smooth and refined on the motorway too.

Included as standard is a new electromechanical power steering system which delivers precise and well-weighted steering. There's plenty of grip offered around the corners, too, making for an overall fun drive.

Entry level kit

Our test car costs £14,315 to buy. Even in entry-level SE trim it comes pretty well equipped with new 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch multimedia screen in gloss black, secondary collision brake assist (Audi’s new safety system which helps to prevent a secondary collision by applying the brakes after a crash), a tyre pressure monitoring system, DAB Radio, start/stop, folding rear seats, heated rear windscreen and air con.

Available as an option for SE models, and standard if you move up to Sport or S-Line, is the Audi drive select system which adjusts the throttle response and steering settings to suit different modes. Also available as an option is the connectivity pack which includes WIFI inside the car - we were particularly impressed with this while on test.

The boot is a reasonable size of 270 litres, which is bigger than the new MINI hatchback, and it comes equipped with hooks and a light for extra convenience. The tailgate is usefully low too with a large opening making getting your suitcase or shopping bags in a doddle. 

The materials around the cabin are excellent and the centre console is easy to navigate around, with the new switches and dials helping to smarten things up a bit.

Verdict

Deliveries for the new A1 start in the spring, although you'll have to wait a few months longer if you want this engine, but we think it’ll be worth the wait.

Not only does it mean no tax but in this trim with this engine the sums add up too. True it lacks a little creative flair found elsewhere in the segment, but what it lacks here it makes up for in refined interior quality, an upmarket design, surprisingly practical features and fun experience behind the wheel.

Parkers rating: 4.5 stars