This is the new Audi A1 — Sportier and More Exciting than Before

The previous Audi A1 supermini was an interesting car. On one hand, it offers customers the ability to get a very small, fuel efficient car for tight European city streets but also one with the modern luxuries of a premium brand like Audi. On the other hand, it wasn’t very good. So Audi sought to make it quite a lot better with this new generation but, more importantly, also make it a lot more interesting and exciting. And, at least from the outside, is seems as Audi may have succeeded.

According to Audi’s press release, the Audi A1 “delivers agile handling and a sporty, poised driving experience”, which is a bold statement, as the previous A1 wasn’t really much of a driver. To Audi’s credit, though, this new A1 does seem poised to be an exciting little car.

For starters, it looks good. It has sporty looking headlights that seemingly make arrows pointing outward, the brand’s new Singleframe Grille design and three little air vents right above it. According to Audi, those three vents represent the original Audi Quattro. It even has a fat, chunky C-pillar like the UR Quattro. Down the sides, there’s a crisp shoulder line that splits and raises over the rear wheel arch, giving it a muscular, athletic look. It’s certainly the most stylish car in its segment, that’s for sure. It even has real exhausts(!).

Built on Audi’s MQB A0 platform, the same one that underpins the aforementioned Polo and SEAT Ibiza, the A1 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. So it’s lighter, stiffer and more high-tech than before. It’s also a bit longer, wider and taller with a slightly longer wheelbase as well. That gives it more interior passenger and cargo space while also making it more dynamic to drive.

As far as engines go, it gets a choice of three different petrol-powered engines. No diesels for the A1 and that’s probably for the best amidst a seemingly never ending diesel scandal. The base engine will be a 1.0 liter turbocharged thee-pot with two states of tune; one with 94 hp and the other with 114 hp. There will also be a 1.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 148 hp and sports cylinder-deactivation, giving it the ability to shut two cylinders down while cruising to save fuel. The hottest engine, and the enthusiast’s choice, will be a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 197 hp, which sounds surprisingly peppy for such a small car.

In terms of that aforementioned sportiness, the Audi A1 will come with three different suspension options; one soft one, one stiffer one and an adjustable one. If any other modern Audis are anything to go by, get the adjustable dampers.

Though, Audi A1 customers aren’t buying it to get something sporty or fun. They’re looking to buy something small, efficient, easy to park and premium/comfortable enough to make the daily commute easier. So the interior is what matters more than sportiness or performance. And, in that regard, the Audi A1 delivers.

Inside, the A1 gets Audi’s newest touchscreen MMI system, sans the HVAC screen. So it’s just one screen, rather than two but it still looks very high-tech, especially so for this segment. It also gets Audi’s brilliant new Virtual Cockpit, the same updated one as in the Audi A8, and a similar horizontal air vent dashboard layout as you’ll find on other Audis. So it’s all very modern, all very hip and it looks very good. While Audi may have been a bit ambitious with its “sportiest car in its class” comment, we don’t think anyone would argue if Audi claimed the A1 to have the best interior in its class.

The previous-gen Audi A1 looked fine and had a good interior but was about as exciting as plastic shoes. So it wasn’t something a lot of enthusiasts wanted. This new car, though, is stylish, has a snazzy interior, some punchy engines and class-leading tech. If I lived in Europe and needed a small, urban city car, it’d be almost impossible to overlook this new Audi A1.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.