Author Topic: Audi A1 1.2 TFSi Sport  (Read 13927 times)

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Audi A1 1.2 TFSi Sport
« on: January 31, 2011, 09:16:38 pm »
2011 Audi A1 1.2 TFSi Sport

3-door hatchback   
1.2-litre 4 cylinder, 16-valve turbocharged engine producing 85bhp at 4,800rpm and 118lb/ft of torque.
Manual 5-speed gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds
Performance: Max speed: 112mph
Combined mpg: 55.4mpg
CO2: 118g/Km
Weight: 1,040kg
Insurance group: 9
Price: £15,260


This is Audi's answer to the MINI - a small, premium supermini (I hate that word so I won't use it again!). Underneath it is based on the same platform as the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza. Naturally you pay more for this A1 for obvious reasons. Initially, the A1 comes only as a three-door hatchback (a five-door will follow) and is available with two turbo-charged petrols (1.2 85bhp 5-speed manual and 1.4 120bhp 6-speed manual) and 'some diesels'. A more powerful twincharger 1.4 will follow. Audi's version of VW's DSG is avaliable on the 1.4.


No real surprises here – it looks exactly how you would expect a small Audi to look like - almost. Up front it's virtually identical to the larger Audi's but otherwise the shape has purpose and is not an A3 ran through a photocopier. The rear is neat and tidy although I can from the rear three-quarter see a bit of 90's Nissan Micra in the roofline. Maybe that's just me.

Even so, there is no real emotion to the design. Careful colour and wheel choice is essential - dark colours undo some of the shaping of the flanks to the point if you don't specify the optional silver roofline (a ridiculous £350) the A1 looks like any other small car on the road. The optional 17” wheel are needed to enhance the looks. As with the MINI you can spec a range of exterior 'enhancements', most of which you really shouldn't.

Overall the looks are neat and tidy but lack the character and emotional appeal of the MINI,  although for some that maybe the appeal. Only time will tell if the conservative styling will look tired like it does on the A3 or Mk5 Golf.

It is growing on me though, but to my eyes the MINI is a better looking car.

Looks: 5/10


The 1.2-litre engine is the smallest in the A1 range. With just 85bhp, it's only slightly more powerful than my Jazz, however, the 0-62mph and top speed stats put it in the 100bhp ballpark thanks to the addition of a turbo. Even so, I visualised 1.2-litre A1's performance being rather limited.

But no that is not the case – the 1.2-litre A1 feels much faster than the typical 100bhp small car. Put your foot down and the engine spools up quickly with plenty of overtaking punch and never feels slow,  enough to make you think twice about spending the extra £400 for the 1.4. Of course you can't ring it out in the same way you can with a naturally aspirated engine, but with only 85bhp you can still get some of that hit without risking your licence; another reason perhaps not to pick the bigger engine. I wasn't expecting much from this engine but it really is superb and is a world away from a decade or so when the VW group where still playing about with two-valve per cylinder tech even Ford was fitting 16-valve engines to the Fiesta.

The excellent five-speed gearbox offers a gearchange action normally found only in Honda’s – usually I dislike VW group manual boxes as they tend to be too notchy, but this is a real change for the better. The clutch is progressive and well-weighted in all driving conditions as too are the brakes.

A real suprise in this area.

Performance: 8/10

Ride and Handling

If the press are to be believed, Audi has a reputation for offering a numb experience behind the wheel on anything South of the R8. I've never driven any other Audi until now so I can't confirm or deny this, nor have I driven the much-praised MINI or Fiesta. Whatever.... to my standards the handling of the A1 is superb.

This Sport model was fitted with the optional 17” wheels (16"'s are standard, 18"'s also avaliable) on an aggressive choice of Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres. This give the A1 amazing grip on roundabouts and corners. The steering feels a little light at first next to what I'm used to, but it soon becomes clear it is well-weighted and serves up good feedback to make driving the A1 very rewarding. Body roll? Understeer? Clearly there is no such thing in the A1's dictionary.

The Sport model is fitted with sports suspension as standard; the lower SE comes with the softer  'Dynamic' suspension (a no-cost option on Sport) while the top of the range S Line has an even more stiffer setup. So can this dispell another myth about Audi's? Sadly, no. The combination of sports supension with the optional 17” wheels fitted to this example gives the A1 a firm ride. On faster roads this is no problem, but hit the urban streets the A1 fidgets and crashes about. I can't remember driving a car with such a harsh low-speed ride as this. 

Great handling let down by the ride quality. Think carefully about your wheel and suspension choice.

Ride and Handling: 6/10

Comfort and Equipment

This is were the money has been spent. I'm not talking about a hard plastic interior with a slab of the soft plastics on top of the dashboard – as on the Alfa Mito or Ford Fiesta – which only highlights the cheaper bits elsewhere, this interior looks and feels the real deal. The design is smart and funky without being OTT and the materials are excellent, with soft-touch plastics in areas you see, durable matt-finish ones elsewhere and a splash of subtle chrome and aluminium detailing. Everything feels well put together, although there were one or two minor rattles. It doesn't get any better then this at this price.

A flip-up display for the radio is standard even if you don't spec sat nav. It's manually operated and the graphics looks cool and up to date but some might find it distracting. The radio station name is displayed in the driver's information panel between the speedometer and rev counter so this display unit can be folded away out of sight. There is no standard USB socket – you must pay extra for that – but two SD card slots are included on all models and the CD player can play MP3 CDs.

The driving position – a typical strong point of VW group cars – is good and visibility is better than usually found in modern small cars. The curve of the roof line makes you almost think this is a coupι – as does the limited rear headroom making contact with the heads of those at or over 5ft 4! Otherwise the interior space is acceptable but way below the class norm. The boot though is much bigger than a MINI's offers a split level configuration although part of the lower level is taken up with the battery. This also means you don't get a spare wheel.

Equipment though isn't the best; this mid-range Sport only comes with manual air con, leather multi-function steering wheel, voice control Bluetooth, 16” alloy wheels and front fog lights. But there is a vast array of options available – at a price, of course.

Outstanding interior design and quality, below average interior space and limited equippment.

Comfort and Equipment: 6/10


Over £15k is  alot of money for a 1.2-litre small car. And it's fair to say most cars will leave the showroom with at least £1200 worth of options, some of which (as with the MINI) will not return anything extra come resale. That said, the residuals look to at least equal that of the MINI's, and Audi offer a 5-year service plan similar to the MINI TLC package which should keep costs down. Fuel economy is in the mid 50's and the use of a turbo should make real-world mpg figures resonably close to that figure.

It's expensive to buy but the overall ownership costs could help balance that out.

Costs: 6/10

Alternatives to Consider

Alfa MiTo
Looks great but can't match the A1's quality. And where is your nearest dealer? But much better value and less common than a Fiesta or MINI.

The default choice. Probably rides and handles better and this money will get you into the more powerful Cooper model. But the boot is tiny and cabin quality has moved on thanks to the A1.

Ford Fiesta Zetec S
The Fiesta would probably leave the A1 behind on a twisty road, but the A1 feels like a car from the class above. Worth the extra? Yes....but once discounts on the Fiesta have been factored in? Tough one.

VW Polo 1.2 TSi
Bland and forgettable. Save the pennies and get the A1.

Overall: 6/10

The ride lets the A1 down and I don't connect with the styling. But it's great fun to drive, the interior is superb and the space inside is usable providing you don't carry rear passengers that often.


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Re: Audi A1 1.2 TFSi Sport
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2011, 09:33:57 pm »
Good review.

Not too keen on the A1 myself, although I quite like the silver roofline thingy on it...but not enough to pay an extra £350 for it.

The side profile of the A1 reminds me of a 1970s design 'classic' - the 2 door Austin Allegro.


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Re: Audi A1 1.2 TFSi Sport
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2011, 09:38:51 pm »
Don't like the A1 at all.  But then I don't like the Polo either.  Find both of them bland to the point of sleep inducing, for me it's still MINI or MiTo in that segment.
Goodbye, it was once fun.

Stopped by 02/08/22 to see if anyone was still here.  The answer.... a resounding no :)


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