2020 Audi A1 review

By David Bonnici, with WhichCar staff

2020 Audi A1

Priced From $32,350Information

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProCharming and powerful engines; dash design; fun to drive.

  2. ConHard interior plastics, no spare wheel option

  3. The Pick: 2020 Audi A1 30 TFSI S Tronic 5D Sportback

What stands out?

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The second-generation Audi A1 applies the style and finish of a medium luxury car to a very small hatchback. There is a range of fuel-efficient, turbocharged petrol engines, from the miserly but charming three-cylinder in the A1 30 TFSI to the 40 TFSI’s fiery 2.0-litre four cylinder. All steer nicely, and even the least powerful is good to drive.

What might bug me?

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Getting a puncture and coming to grips with the tyre repair kit: the Audi A1 doesn’t have a spare wheel of any kind. While the kit allows you to drive on the affected tyre, it’s only enough to get you to a repairer where it will need to be replaced.

Knowing you could have got many of the same features a considerably cheaper Volkswagen Polo.

The hard cabin plastics on the doors that undermine the A1’s otherwise pleasant interior.

Drivers born and bred on traditional automatic gearboxes may need to approach an auto A1’s dual-clutch gearbox with an open mind. The S-tronic transmission is essentially an automated manual gearbox – albeit a highly sophisticated one – and sometimes it won’t match the smoothness of a conventional automatic when starting from rest.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door hatchback only – Audi calls it a Sportback.

The Audi A1 drives its front wheels and is classed as a light car, higher priced.

What features does every Audi A1 have?

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Cruise control with speed limiter, and air-conditioning. Headlights that turn on automatically when it’s getting dark, and windscreen wipers that turn on automatically when it rains.

Rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors that help you judge how far your bumpers are from obstacles.

A multimedia system with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone pairing, AM/FM/digital (DAB+) radio, and USB socket. Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming.

Six-speaker sound system.

A 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for the multimedia system.

Power folding heated door mirrors.

Aluminium alloy wheels, which are usually lighter and better looking than the steel wheels with plastic covers found on some lower priced light cars. A tyre pressure monitor, which warns you if a tyre has lost air (this can give you extra time to get a slow puncture seen to).

A puncture repair kit.

Autonomous emergency braking, and attention assist that detects and warns you if your attention is lapsing such as when you’re fatigued.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and passenger; one on the outer side of each front occupant to protect the upper body; and a curtain airbag on each side covering the front and rear side-windows.

Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

Every Audi A1 carries a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 1.0-litre petrol engine in the A1 30 TFSI uses the least fuel, consuming as little as 5.4 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

This turbocharged three-cylinder engine is peppy for city driving, and has enough grunt for climbing hills and overtaking on the highway. Nevertheless, the main reason you might not choose it is simply that you want a bit more power, for more rapid overtaking and a sportier driving experience.

The turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo in the 35 TFSI has about 30 per cent more power, but consumes just 5.8 litres/100km as it has the ability to shut off two cylinders while cruising.

The most powerful A1, the 40 TFSI, has an even more powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that takes performance even more seriously.

Another reason you wouldn’t choose the 30 TFSI is because you want more features that come standard with the 40 TFSI.

All three engines have automatic stop-start systems, which save fuel in urban driving. They shut down when you stop, and start again when you take your foot off the brake pedal to drive away.

The 30 and 35 TFSI versions are coupled with a dual-clutch automatic transmission with seven gears. The 40 TFSI A1 has a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which comes with paddle-shifters so that you can control it from the steering wheel.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly A1, the 30 TFSI comes with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder powertrain, with manual air-conditioning, cloth seats, 8.8-inch multimedia screen, and 16-inch alloy wheels as standard.

Stepping up to the 35 TFSI brings the more powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, bigger 17-inch wheels, premium cloth upholstery, auto-dimming interior mirror, front centre armrest, and wireless phone charger.

Spending more again on the sporty 40 TFSI brings the most powerful engine, adjustable suspension that you can adjust to suit different driving conditions, red brake calipers, 18-inch wheels with lower profile tyres for improved handling, and sports front seats with extra side support.

The 40 TSFI also receives climate-control air-conditioning (which maintains a set temperature), while the infotainment system comes with a bigger 10.10-inch multimedia screen, ‘Virtual Cockpit’ map display in the digital gauge cluster, 3D satellite navigation with online traffic alerts, and Apple CarPlay that syncs via Blutooth and doesn’t require a USB connection.

These infotainment extras are available in the 35 TFSI as part of the extra-cost Technik package for about $3200).

The Audi A1 is also available with a bunch of optional extras available in packages or individual items.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The 17- and 18-inch wheels and tyres that come standard on the A1 35 and 40 TFSI versions have an impact on ride comfort, in comparison with the 16-inch wheels worn by an A1 30 TFSI, because the lower profile tyres have less rubber and air cushioning you from the road.

Paint on an A1 is an extra-cost item, with only one colour, ‘Cortina White’ available for no extra charge. The other 10 colours all cost extra.

How comfortable is the Audi A1?

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The Audi A1’s increased dimensions over the previous model are evident. It’s very easy to get comfortable in the front seat even if you’re taller than most. The huge headroom on offer combines with a flexible steering-wheel adjustment to provide a commanding driving position, even in such a diminutive car.


The interior dash design looks great, with the infotainment screen directed towards the driver and the clear crisp lines of the dash fit very well within Audi’s vision for this car to be a style icon. That said the digital dashboard and infotainment screen look very similar to the one found in its Volkswagen and Polo cousin, and the hard plastics on the door skins and glovebox door feel a little cheap.


The instruments are classically presented even on the digital dashboard and the controls and buttons on the dashboard and steering are mostly well laid out.

The A1 rides the average city or country road with absorbency, but the A1s with the 17- or 18-inch wheels trade a degree of ride smoothness for heightened handling, but the trade-off is well judged.

The A1 40 TFSI with its adjustable adaptive dampers manages a pleasing ride-handling compromise.

What about safety in an Audi A1?

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The Audi A1 has autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, stability control, six airbags, rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a tyre pressure monitor as standard.

The autonomous emergency braking system warns you of obstacles in front of the car – typically another vehicle that has slowed suddenly – and applies the brakes automatically if you do not react to either prevent or reduce the impact of a collision. In the Audi A1 it can mitigate a collision from 5km/h up to 85km/h (pedestrians and cyclists) and up to 250 km/h with other vehicles.

Of the six airbags, two are directly in front of the driver and passenger; and there is one on the outer side of each front occupant to protect the upper body. There are also curtain airbags on each side covering the front and rear side-windows.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Audi A1 five stars for safety, its maximum, in November 2019.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Responsive – and communicative – steering makes the A1 feel sporty and agile from the first corner you turn into. The handling is secure and predictable rather than edgy or adjustable, which gives you great confidence.

The A1 remains composed and comfortable on bumpy roads. There’s a palpable sense of body rigidity, which clearly helps the suspension work when the going gets rough and allows you to carry pleasing pace.

The three-cylinder A1s are the most enthusiastic when turning in to corners thanks to their lighter weight. They’re sweet to drive, and great fun, despite their modest power.

The 30 TFSI and 40 TFSI versions progressively step up the speed available – the extra power satisfies during day-to-day duty, on the highway, and for spirited driving.

The 40 TFSI, with its well-sorted suspension, hard-hitting engine and paddle shifters offers hot hatch thrills.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Unlike the previous model, there’s a decent amount of space on offer in the back. Headroom is abundant, and while legroom isn’t exactly generous there is enough space to avoid your knees digging into the front seat.

The rear bench seats three, but it’s a pretty tight squeeze for whoever draws the short straw for the middle seat.

A lack of rear air vents or USB ports are a notable omission in a car in this price range.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The boot is 65 litres larger than the previous model, totalling 335 litres that’s helped by the lack of a spare wheel.

With the 60-40 split rear seatbacks folded the Audi A1 can lug 1090 litres of stuff.

Where does Audi make the A1?

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The Audi A1 is built in Spain.

Are there any rivals I should consider?

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The only direct premium light hatchback alternative to the Audi A1 is the Mini Cooper five-door.

That said this model A1’s bigger dimensions does make it a rival to the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class for those who don’t need to worry about a rear seat.

Other cars worth considering are the Volkswagen Polo and Golf. Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group so a lot of the features you’ll find in the A1 are available in each VW hatch but at a more affordable price and with longer five-year warranty.

Renault Clio and the Peugeot 208. You could buy a mid- to high-specification Clio or 208 for a similar price to the least costly A1. Each French model has a five-year warranty.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The most affordable A1, the 30 TFSI, offers great value, fun driving, and an Audi badge without paying too much more than you would for highly specified versions of many more popular light hatchbacks. What the turbo three-cylinder lacks in outright oomph compared with the bigger engines available, it makes up in character.

Is Audi likely to update the A1 soon?

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The second-generation Audi A1 went on sale in late 2019 with three versions; the three-cylinder 30 TFSI and four-cylinder 35 TFSI and 40 TFSI. Only one other model is available overseas, the 25 TFSI, which is less powerful version of the 30 TFSI that is not expected to be sold in Australia.

At this stage Audi has not revealed any plans for sportier S1 or RS1 versions.

Don’t expect any updates until late 2021.