Car Reviews

2020 Audi A1 Review

Stephen Ottley’s Audi A1 Review 2020 With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Interior, Ownership, Verdict And Score.

IN A NUTSHELL: Audi has tried to make its entry-level A1 city car more man-friendly, with a rally-inspired look. But the German brand is hoping its stylish cabin and improved value will continue to attract new buyers to the luxury car market.

2020 Audi A1 review

This is Audi’s most important new model.

That may sound like an odd mantle to thrust upon the brand’s smallest offering, but given its role within the Audi range and the recent downturn in luxury car sales, getting new buyers into the four-ring brand’s lineup is vital.

Audi Australia claims 80 per cent of buyers of the first-generation A1 were either new to the prestige market or it was even their first new car. Of those, they say half returned to buy another Audi – that’s an impressive conversion rate, especially as the brand prepares for an onslaught of new or updated models in the next 18 months.

Part of the challenge for Audi was to make the pint-sized hatchback more appealing to potential male buyers (in Australia 70 per cent of A1 customers were female), which inspired a more aggressive look.

The horizontal vents at the leading edge of the bonnet were inspired by the legendary Audi Quattro rally car of the 1980s. The same can be said for the more pumped out wheel arches (even though the new model is actually narrower than the old one).

What Does The Audi A1 Cost And What Do You Get?

Underlining its importance, Audi is offering a three-tier range from the get-go when the A1 arrives in local showrooms at the end of the month. It will begin at $32,350 (plus on-road costs) for the 30 TFSI, powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which is obviously a lot for a city car but makes it an attainable Audi for many.

Next up is the 35 TFSI at $35,290 (plus ORC) which is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The initial range is topped by the 40 TFSI priced from $46,450, a big jump in price but it is packing a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Standard equipment for the 30 TFSI includes 16-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights, ‘standard’ seats with cloth upholstery, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster, 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker stereo.

Stepping up to the 35 TFSI brings 17-inch alloys, different cloth trim, keyless entry and ignition, a wireless smartphone charging pad and a front centre armrest.

The extra money for the 40 TFSI includes 18-inch alloys, red brake calipers, adaptive dampers as part of Drive Select, an S Line exterior package, LED headlights and taillights, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, a 10-inch infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, unique cloth trim, sports seats, and dual-zone climate control.

What’s The Audi A1 Interior Like?

The German brand has always been at the forefront of interior design but even by its own high standards, the new A1 pushes the boat out. Instead of the sophisticated but sensible straight lines of the previous model, this new generation model features angular lines that cut across the cabin in dramatic fashion.

The infotainment screen is angled towards the driver and integrated into the black glass that runs through the centre console, creating a seamless look. The mixture of dashboard materials adds to the presentation and look of quality.

For a car designed to appeal to young professionals it certainly looks and feels suitably premium; even if all models feature cloth trim. This doesn’t feel like a city car in fancy clothes, it has a genuine luxury presence.

How Much Space Is There In The Audi A1?

Naturally, being a city car, it’s a compact cabin but that hasn’t stopped Audi from trying to make it bigger. Overall the new A1 is 56mm longer than the one it replaces, with the wheelbase extended by 94mm that liberates an extra 43mm of interior space. That has predominantly been done to improve rear space, with more foot and knee room as well as a longer roofline that creates an additional 7mm of headroom.

It all sounds impressive on paper, but if you’re an adult you still don’t want to get stuck in the back seat for a long trip. There’s decent space for smaller children but despite the extra length this is still a car where only those in the front chairs are truly comfortable.

The overall growth has also helped create more luggage capacity, with the boot 65-litres bigger than before, now measuring a total of 335-litres.

What’s The Audi A1 Infotainment Like?

It’s been loaded with the latest technology the company has to offer. Every model gets a 10.2-inch digital instrument panel, instead of traditional dials, with the 40 TFSI getting the extra functionality of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. That adds the ability to display the navigation on the screen and adjust various layouts.

The new A1 also gets Audi’s latest and greatest MMI infotainment system, either on an 8.8- or 10.1-inch touchscreen. This is the same smartphone-like system that debuted in the A8 and has already trickled down to the entry-level model in the range. It features a menu with tiles that can be moved around for easy navigation.

It’s an excellent system that offers good functionality while still maintaining a user-friendly interface.

As for the sound system, the standard six-speaker set-up is adequate but nothing special. However, Audi offers a Bang & Olufsen 3D system as part of the $2990 Premium Plus package on the 40 TFSI, which also brings faux-leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, Park Assist, heated front seats and ambient lighting.

What’s The Audi A1 Engine Like?

The importance of this model is underlined by the breadth of the initial range, both in terms of price and powertrain options. At a time when the new WLTP emissions testing regime has severely impacted Audi’s ability to get certain models and engines, the A1 is launching with a trio of powerplants.

First up is the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder in the 30 TFSI. It may be small but it makes a respectable 85kW of power and 200Nm of torque. Fuel use is a claimed 5.4-litres per 100km, which is quite frugal under the new WLTP policy.

Next up is the 35 TFSI, powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that features cylinder-on-demand for reduced fuel economy. It makes 110kW and 250Nm while sipping on fractionally more premium unleaded than the 30 TFSI, a claimed 5.8L/100km.

Then there’s a big step up to the 40 TFSI which packs a 147kW and 320Nm punch from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine. Despite the big boost in grunt it still uses a respectable 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle according to Audi’s claim.

While it would seem obvious that the 40 TFSI is the pick of the bunch, in reality that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Yes, it’s got the most impressive performance and feels genuinely quick for a city car, but the 30 TFSI may be the real star of this group.

It has more than enough performance to satisfy most people’s needs, especially around town, with smooth pulling power whenever you step on the throttle. It’s one of the most refined triples we’ve driven yet, with the trademark three-cylinder ‘thrum’ barely noticeable in the cabin when you’re cruising along.

The 35 TFSI also does a commendable job, thanks to the seamless cylinder-on-demand technology it blends more power with very similar real-world fuel economy to its smaller sibling.

All three engines impressed in unique ways so none are a bad choice.

What’s The Audi A1 Like To Drive?

One thing that hasn’t changed compared to the previous generation A1 is that it’s still based on the Volkswagen Polo underneath. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the Polo is one of the better city cars on the market – at least in terms of how it behaves on the road.

Audi puts its own spin on it and elevates it even above the VW’s impressive character. The A1 doesn’t feel like a dressed-up city car, it feels like you expect an Audi to feel albeit in a smaller package. It feels more solid and stable than your typical city car, with more dynamic handling and a controlled ride.

The suspension tune is firm, which creates that well-controlled feeling, but the ride can also be a bit firm at times, picking up the smaller imperfections in the road more easily.

Ultimately you accept though because it makes for a more responsive car. The steering is nice and direct, with good weighting for both navigating around the city and on the open road. Throw the A1 into a corner with some intent and it holds true, inspiring confidence in the driver and adding to the premium image the little car projects.

How Safe Is The Audi A1?

Audi Australia is proud to say that there are no safety options on the A1, it has loaded it with all safety technology it has available as standard on every model.

That means beyond the typical airbag protection there’s autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, active lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

What Are The Audi A1 Alternatives?

Most major luxury brands have pushed downwards into the compact market. The most direct rivals to the A1 are the Mini hatch, BMW 1-Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

Lexus’ CT200h can’t really compete in terms of style or driving character, but it will still be worth a look for some. The more realistic rival from the Japanese brand is the UX compact SUV, which looks like a crossover but drives more like a small car. The same could be said for the Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA and BMW X1.

2020 Audi A1 Pricing And Specifications

Price From $29,490 plus ORCs Warranty 3 years/unlimited km Engine 1.0L turbo petrol; 1.4L turbo petrol; 2.0L turbo petrol Power 85kW at rpm; 110kW at rpm; 147kW at rpm Torque 200Nm at rpm; 250Nm at rpm; 320Nm at rpm Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch auto (1.0L and 1.4L) and 6-speed dual-clutch auto (2.0L) Drive front-wheel-drive Body 4029mm (l); 1740mm (w); 1409mm (h) Kerb weight 1125-1260kg Seats 5 Thirst 5.4L/100km; 5.8L/100km; 6.4L/100km Fuel tank 40-litres Spare Space saver

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the value?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
As fashionable and stylish as before, a new tougher character and impressive drivetrain options bolster the Audi A1 to appeal to a greater audience. Top marks for Audi including ful lsafety as standard too.

Stephen Ottley

Stephen Ottley