Is the 2019 Audi A1 - The best premium small car?
The car in the photo is the 2019 Audi A1. Itís an upmarket small car and the Volkswagen Poloís sibling. In this short review weíre going to tell you what itís like and whether it should be on your shortlist if youíre looking for a trendy town runabout.
The 1 in A1 should give you a clue that this is the smallest car in Audiís range. However, this doesnít mean that the standard equipment level is any less than the bigger models as they all come with LED headlights, the familiar large grille and hot nostrils that remind us of the hot Audi S4. It really is a throwback and a homage to Audiís impressive and famous rally cars of the 1980s. The latest generation of the A1 is about 5 centimetres longer than the previous model. However, the height and width is the same and this results in a more squat side profile than its closely related yet boxier Volkswagen Polo.
There are lots of cheaper small car rivals on the market such as the Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza. However, in terms of a premium rival youíre probably looking at the Mini hatchback. If you want to find out which is the best of the lot then a good place to start is with the interior. Outstanding interior quality was one of the defining aspects of the original Audi A1 but unfortunately the same canít really be said for this latest generation. Ok, if you look at things such as the squidgy material on the dash and some of the buttons then it certainly feels a lot more premium than a Ford Fiesta. However, if you dig further then youíll also find some rather scratchy plastics here and there which just doesnít feel as premium as youíd expect in a car like this. Itís based on this that weíd have to say that the Mini still remains the king of small car when it comes to interiors. One thing that the A1 does have is a logically laid out interior. A good example of this are the quick access climate control buttons which are easy to hit on the move. Every A1 comes with an 8.8 inch touchscreen which is positioned high up on the dash so youíll be able to see it and reach it very easily. Itís also well kitted out with things such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto. If you opt for the Technology pack then you also get features such as sat nav, wireless charging and a larger 10.1 inch touchscreen. Whichever system you choose the basic hardware and software is pretty similar so the response times and calculations are pleasingly fast. The screen itself is sharper than the one you get in the Mini but itís a touchscreen and therefore using it on the move can sometimes prove distracting. Itís also altogether a tad more hassle to use than the round iDrive controller found in the Mini.
While the Mini can annoy you with its irritating offset pedals there is no such bother in the A1. The seat, pedals and steering wheel are perfectly aligned while thereís plenty of adjustment in both the seats and the steering wheel. Speaking of seats thereís plenty of choices in the A1. However, we wouldnít really recommend going for the top spec S Line seats because the slope and backrest wonít suit everybody. As for the support around cornering, theyíre also not as great as you might think despite the chunky side bolsters. All A1 models get digital instruments as standard in place of regular analogue dials. You do have the option to change the standard 10.3 inch display for a more configurable version if you have the rather pricey Technology pack. We really do recommend going for the pack as it allows for a full screen view of the sat nav map directly under your nose.
The forward visibility in the A1 is excellent thanks to some rather skinny pillars though the same canít really be said for the rear as you get thick pillars and an angled rear screen. However, Sport models and above do come with rear parking sensors and if youíd like a rear view camera and front parking sensors then you can add these to any model. The space up front is generous so if youíre 6ft then youíll be absolutely fine. Thereís also plenty of storage as well as cup holders, somewhere to place your phone and large door bins.
When you sit in the back of the A1 youíll find that itís not the roomiest in its class. So, if youíre 6ft you may have to slouch a little bit and if you do then your knees will be rubbing the seat in front of you. There arenít a lot of cars in this class that impress with their seat flexibility apart from maybe the Honda Jazz with its flippable magic seats. This car doesnít have these features but it still comes with 60/40 split rear seats as standard which fold easily. Although the front passenger seats are height adjustable you canít fold them down for large loads as you can in the Jazz. When you open the boot youíll discover a large usable square load area. In fact, this boot is actually bigger than the Miniís and is large enough to accommodate five carry-on suitcases which is perfect for a small family weekend trip away. However, itís ever so slightly smaller than both the Honda Jazz and SEAT Ibiza. For added flexibility you can add an adjustable boot floor and this helps smooth out the load lip. When you have the seats down then it becomes even easier to get things in and out.
It can take some time to get your head around Audiís badging policy but in simple terms, the bigger the number then the more power at your disposal. With this in mind we recommend avoiding the 94 brake horse power (bhp) 25 TFSI and instead going for the 114 bhp 30 TFSI. The 30 TFSI is keen and good on acceleration although you donít get earth moving 0 to 60 miles per hour (mph) times as it take 9.1 seconds to get there. If you want your A1 to have even more power then youíd need to go for the 148 bhp 35 TFSI or the 197 bhp 40 TFSI. However, these both push the prices too high for us to really recommend. As for ride comfort the Audi A1 manages to have a smooth and controlled ride thatís something of a novelty in the small car class Ė thatís if you pick the right trim. As long as you donít go for the S Line trim and its stiffer suspension then youíll find that the A1 deals admirably well with potholed urban roads or bumpy sections of the motorway. The well-judged suspension translates into tidy handling and the steering feels light around town and weights up nicely when youíre gathering up some speed. If you plan to drive your Audi A1 in a rather spirited fashion then we must warn you that it does lean somewhat in the corners. However, itís not excessive and you still get plenty of grip even on high-speed corners. However, if itís something truly entertaining youíre after then weíd probably recommend the Ford Fiesta. In terms of refinement at 70 mph you canít really hear the engines at all. There is a little bit of wind and road noise but nothing thatís particularly intrusive. If you opt for the 18inch alloys you can hear a bit more and thereís also the introduction of a little bit of suspension noise too. However, all in all itís a lot more refined than the Mini and is on par with the Volkswagen Polo.
If you like the looks of the Audi A1 and youíre after a trendy city car then itís not a bad choice. In fact, itís a better premium car package than the Mini. However, itís important that you remember that the cheaper and more spacious option is the Polo. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder so why not make the choice for yourself by heading down to our used Audi A1 cars for sale section on the DesperateSeller.co.uk website.