THE ONE TO HAVE? (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 52
The first generation Audi A1 firmly established itself as the ultimate supermini - the essence of democratic down-sizing. In 2015, Audi updated the car and made it smarter, more efficient and better-equipped. It's this version we check out here as a potential used buy. It's a seductive package for small car buyers.
Modelsword count: 16
3/5dr Hatch (1.0, 1.4, 2.0 TFSI petrol / 1.6 TDI diesel) [SE, Sport, S line, S1])
Historyword count: 341
You don't expect to see a premium badge in the supermini segment - or a car of this quality. Though Audi's two key rivals, BMW and Mercedes, do make very compact small models, they do so using separate brands, BMW with MINI and Mercedes with smart. The A1 though, is unashamedly an Audi, thoroughly imbued with Vorsprung durch technic and pretty much all the quality you'd get with one of the company's larger vehicles. It took the Ingolstadt maker quite a while to figure out how to manage this in a small car at prices not too far removed from the supermini norm. The company's first attempt, the Audi 50 of 1974, wasn't different enough from the MK1 model Volkswagen Polo it was based upon. In contrast, the hi-tech aluminium-bodied Audi A2 of 2000 was too much of a departure from convention, quirky and over-complicated. All buyers really wanted was something much more straightforward: a small car with an expensive feel. It could share mechanical parts with lesser Volkswagen group models but it needed to be properly premium. The way this model is. The opportunity to create it finally arrived in 2009 with the launch of Volkswagen's fifth generation Polo. Here at last was the perfect platform from which to build a really credible entry-level Audi and sure enough, the first three-door production A1 models were launched a year later. A five-door Sportback version was added to the range in 2011 and from then on, the brand took every opportunity to emphasise its smallest model's technological superiority over every other supermini-sized competitor. You simply didn't expect to find things like 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or cylinder-on-demand technology on this class of car. Or the option of a hot hatch version with 4WD and as much as 231PS beneath the bonnet. By 2015 though, it was time to update the strong-selling A1 package with smarter looks, greater efficiency and extra equipment. In this form, the car sold until mid-2018, when a second generation design (offered only in five-door Sportbnack form) was announced.
What You Getword count: 378
The A1 is more than merely a scaled-down version of the larger A3. The Polo parentage isn't obvious, the wheels set more widely apart, the body riding a little lower. It's all neat, confident and very classy, especially if you get a car whose original owner opted for the roof hoops that could be specified in contrasting colours. As for the changes made to the post-2014 improved version, well you'd need to be very familiar indeed with the A1 model range to notice them. The enhancements mostly centred upon a front end that featured revisions to the air intakes and the foglights, as well as revised bumpers with more powerful contours that made the facelifted car 19mm longer than the original design. More overt were the updates made to the wider, more distinctive Singleframe front grille flanked by restyled headlights that were able to incorporate hi-tech xenon plus technology. Enter in through the long doors and you'll discover what you probably will have expected to find: the smartest cabin in the class, enhanced on most versions of this improved model with extra chrome and high-glass black detailing. There's a centre console that's supposed to be styled like a ship's stern and a dash apparently modelled on the shape of an aircraft wing, the fascia section decorated with large circular air vents designed to resemble jet engines and which original buyers could trim in personalisable colours. The knurled metal heater controls are particularly smart and above these, you might expect to find the kind of centre-dash colour infotainment display that's becoming increasingly common in modern superminis but instead, in an up-market touch, this is secreted away in a fold-out panel on top of the fascia. It doesn't glide up electrically as it would on one of Audi's larger models but it's still one of the features that makes this cabin feel like that of a much more luxurious car. Access to the rear in the Sportback variant is obviously aided by a longer roofline, but you shouldn't get your hopes up too high with regard to the potential space inside. This is after all, still a supermini measuring under 4m in length and the wheelbase of the five-door body style remains unchanged from that of the alternative three-door model.
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