Nearly new buying guide: Audi A1 Sportback

A premium car doesn’t have to be large, and a small one should not lack fancy technology. The original A1 was a great package, combining all the best qualities of larger Audis into a compact package that quickly became a success. Although its successor is slightly larger, it still embodies the same principles.

There are many engine options. The top engine is the 197bhp 2.0 litre turbo petrol (badged at 40 TFSI), which is paired with a smooth six speed automatic gearbox. There are also more sensible choices, such as the 148bhp 1.5 litre (35 TFSI), the 113bhp 2.0-litre (30 TFSI), and the entry-level turbo petrols of 94bhp (25 TFSI).

It’s the tech that sets the A1 apart, however. Even the SE model (later called Technik), has bright LED headlights. The tail-lights are also brighter than the larger Audis. A simplified 10.25in digital cockpit is available, as well as 15in alloys and automatic emergency braking. The 8.8in touchscreen infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Sport models get 16in wheels, rear parking sensors, and front sports seats. S Line is available in four flavours. Standard version comes with 17in rims and sports suspension. S Line Contrast edition is a styling package. S Line Style edition has more power and adaptive dampers. S Line Competition is the only way you can get the 40 TFSI engine. When you choose Comfort mode, these should take the pain out of bumps and lumps on really rough roads.

Vorsprung and Black Edition models are the best, bringing the range to an even higher level with 18in wheels and lots of extra equipment.

The A1 is one the most smooth-riding small cars on the market, as long as you keep to the Dynamic suspension setup. S Line models come standard with sports suspension. Some may find this too stiff when combined with 18-inch wheels. Although ride quality can vary between A1s, they all have precise steering that allows for accurate positioning of the car on the roads. They are also refined and easy to drive. The manual gearboxes have a longer gearshift action, which isn’t as smooth as the Ford Fiesta.

The interior space was where the original A1 fell short. While people in the front were very well served, the rear was cramped and the boot was small. This car is very similar to the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza, which are the smallest hatchbacks available, so it’s not surprising that the A1 has a vast improvement over the previous model.

BUYER BEWARE

EngineOn your test drive, pull away from junctions to check for hesitancy. This could be caused by a stuck brake light switch, which tells the ECU that it should cut power. Some 1.5 TSI engines experienced loss of power/kangarooing in low gears. Although some owners blamed the auto stop and hold, others suggested turning them off and reinstalling the software.

You need to be familiar with

Audi launched the Citycarver this year. It takes the best of the A1 but adds SUV-aping exterior body and ride height.

All petrol models get respectable economy. The 30 TFSI is the most economical, with 52.3mpg. The 25 TFSI, which is less powerful than the 30 TFSI, still scores 52.3mpg despite having a five-speed gearbox.

Officially, the 35 TFSI consumes fuel at 46.3 mpg while the warm-hatch 40TFSI gets 40.4 mpg.

Prices for A1 start at around PS16,000. A 25 TFSI, 30 TFSI or 25 TFSI in 2019 or 2020 is sufficient; for just a little more you can get a 35 TFSI and 40 TFSI.

Our choice

30TFSI Sport: Many people will find their needs more than met with the popular, flexible 113bhp-1.0-litre 30TFSI. While Sport trim offers all the equipment you need, it is still very affordable. There are many options.

Wildcard

30TFSI Citycarver For those who love SUVs, the Citycarver is a great choice. It can be had with the 35 TFSI or 30 TFSI engines. However, it still rides better than the regular A1.