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Audi A1 engines, driving and performance

How does the Audi A1 drive?

On the whole, the Audi A1 drives pretty nicely. Its small size helps it feel agile, and its steering is consistently weighted giving you a sense of security through fast corners. Body roll is controlled well – it doesn’t feel like you’re about to tip over through a tight bend. It’s marginally less fun than a Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza, just missing out on that last level of engagement that would captivate a keen driver.

Instead, the A1 feels satisfying and sophisticated to drive. In other words, very Audi-esque. You won’t feel like you’re in a poor relation to Audi’s more expensive cars from behind the wheel.

The A1 also has quite a small turning circle, making it ideal for nipping round tight city centre car parks.

Is the Audi A1 comfortable?

We drove an A1 and a mechanically related Volkswagen Polo back-to-back, and the Polo was slightly more comfortable. But the A1 had the firmed-up, sportier suspension and the largest possible alloy wheels, whereas the Polo was in a lower spec with a greater focus on comfort. If you can avoid the allure of the A1’s larger wheels, you’ll find it rides very well.

The large wheels not only make the ride a little jiggly at low speeds, but bring in quite a lot of road noise, too. This is noticeable because the engines are so quiet that you can barely hear them on the road.

What’s the best engine to get?

The A1 only comes with petrol engines – if you’re looking for diesel, hybrid or electric superminis, you’ll have to look to the Peugeot 208, Toyota Yaris and Renault Clio. But the A1’s choice of four petrol engines means there’s something to suit nearly every driver.

The other VW Group superminis all get a non-turbocharged entry-level petrol engine that’s a bit underpowered for faster roads. This isn’t offered in the A1 – the lowest-powered engine here is a 95hp 1.0-litre engine that’s the mid-range offering in the Polo and Ibiza. It has enough power to feel quick enough in the majority of day-to-day driving. Audi calls this engine the ‘25 TFSI’.

Above that is the 30 TFSI, which is the same 1.0-litre engine boosted to 110hp. This is the pick of the range, offering slightly improved performance compared to the 25 TFSI, both off the line and in the middle of the rev range. Its sixth gear means it’s more refined at motorway speeds than the five-speed gearbox in the lesser engine. Fuel economy doesn’t suffer, though, as both the 25 TFSI and 30 TFSI engines return over 50mpg with a manual gearbox.

Audi’s seven-speed automatic gearbox, called S Tronic, is available across the range. It’s the gearbox to get if you’re going to be sitting in a lot of traffic or want to make your A1 as easy to drive as possible, but it does feel slightly lethargic when you want to accelerate quickly.

The 35 TFSI and 40 TFSI engines only come with the automatic gearbox. The 35 TFSI offers impressive performance for daily driving and means the A1 never feels short of power. No longer available new, the range-topping 40 TFSI is overkill for most drivers, as it gives the A1 hot hatch levels of power but not a vastly more exciting driving experience.

Audi A1 performance

With the 25 TFSI able to sprint from 0-62mph in 11 seconds, you can’t call any of the A1’s engines slow. It’ll keep up with traffic no problem at all, and is capable of driving at motorway speeds for long periods of time. The 30 TFSI knocks half a second off the acceleration time and, like the stats suggest, it’s only a little quicker than the 25 TFSI.

The 35 TFSI is a 1.5-litre engine with 150hp – quite a lot in a small car like the A1. The result is a 0-62mph time of under eight seconds, so this engine makes the A1 feel very nippy. But, thanks to the engine’s cylinder deactivation technology, two of the four cylinders can shut down under light throttle to save fuel, enabling you to achieve up to 47mpg. The 30 TFSI with an automatic gearbox returns less than 2mpg more.

S Line Competition versions of the A1 feature the same 207hp engine as the Volkswagen Polo GTI. Audi calls this 2.0-litre petrol engine the 40 TFSI, and says that the 0-62mph time is just 6.5 seconds. Its straight-line speed is impressive, but it’s not as fun as the similarly powerful Ford Fiesta ST and Hyundai i20 N.

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