Three-door profile is a handsome one
At first glance this A1 looks very much like its predecessor. Save for a few subtle design tweaks there's not much to write home about. This policy has been a cornerstone of recent Audi revision programmes, with the firm taking the 'if it ain't broke' approach. However, more kit and improved engines ensure this mid life refresh is justified.
Although the A1 is available in both three and five-door guise - the latter being called Sportback, it's the former that often appeals to singletons and trendy urbanites. This minimalist look also hints at a sportier personality.
In general the A1 is designed to compete against highly stylised models such as the Mini and Alfa Romeo Mito. The compact Audi boasts a cutting edge exterior appearance with all of the trademarks Audi design cues familiar from the manufacturer's larger saloon, hatchback, estate, SUV and coupe models.
What's changed might be small but the overall look is one that continues to match Audi's ever-evolving range of cars. The A1's nose has been given a subtle nip and tuck and the same is also true at the rear. Inside, the minimalist cabin retains its premium ambience thanks to the inclusion of more upmarket trim material.
Under the A1's skin there's been a modest uplift in engine performance. This is true of Audi's trick cylinder-on-demand 1.4-litre petrol motor, which gains 10 horsepower, while diesel fans are also treated to economy and emissions improvements. A new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit promises to further drive down running costs.
Audi's conservative approach to visual mid-life upgrades has proven to be a smart decision, and this refreshed A1 has lost none of its original appeal. Focusing on improving the tech proposition - be it better safety kit or more efficient engines - shows that Audi isn't holding back where it counts.
With the introduction of new and revised engines boasting improved economy and emissions, you can expect lower running costs from this revise A1. Don't expect to save much if you load up with options, however, as there's plenty of potential given the car's modest standard kit list.
Don't expect A6 Avant levels of space from the A1, but as a compact hatchback it does a good job of coping with regular loads. Cabin space is par for the course in this market sector, although those in the back of the three-door model won't want to stay there too long. At the rear the boot is a reasonable size and access - low loading lip - is fine for most bulky items.
With the A1 there's a genuine sense that the cabin of Audi's larger models has been shrunk to fit, and the knobs, buttons and luxuriously lit dial arrangement is every bit as classy as in the larger models. Even navigating the audio and navigation functions is an act that's been well thought out by Audi's engineers.
Audi's option of 'downgrading a Sport or S line model's sports suspension settings without sacrificing the car's exterior design package should please anyone who wants to look the part but also wants a more compliant ride. Elsewhere, cabin noise is pleasingly low and with two adults up front the cabin is cosy but not too snug.
Remote central locking is standard and a category one approved alarm and immobiliser package is also present. Secure storage inside is limited to the glovebox, but items stored in the boot remain out of sight.
Part of the A1's update has resulted in the inclusion of a number of active safety packages. Alongside the usual ESP and collection of airbags, buyers have the chance to add systems that until know have ben the preserve of more expensive models, while the offer of high-power xenon headlights is also welcome.
It's not just the A1's engine range that has been updated, but also the car's overall performance - steering, suspension - has also received a few tweaks. The result is a more rounded and polished driving experience that should please keen drivers. None of the engines disappoint, with the trick 1.4-litre petrol unit in particular offering ample thrust.
The A1 is many things but it's not a family car, at least not in three-door guise. The five-door Sportback is more competent, but even this model is trumped by more conventional - and larger - alternatives. As a second car it's fine for low key tasks but stuffing the boot with baby paraphernalia isn't one of them.
While not the cheapest of superminis the A1 is high on first car appeal, offering small car buyers a slice of Audi quality and image. Impressive economy and an easy to drive nature will help appeal to a young audience, too.
That four-ring badge is a big deal in car buying circles. Adding it to a car to rival the size and driving enjoyment of something like a Mini has only ramped up the interest and desirability levels. Factor in a quality cabin, hi-tech toys and clever engine tech and it's easy to see the A1's appeal.
It's fair to say that the five-door Sportback model offers easier access to the rear seats, but if you don't plan on using them much the three-door hatch boasts better access to the front seats. At the rear the car's boot is modest but access via the wide opening tailgate is good.
The basic audio proposition is a good one, with the car's pop up colour display your central focus. DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connections are all catered for, with the unit also boasting preparation for sat-nav activation if you so wish. Navigating the various functions is straightforward, too.
Both conservative and extrovert tastes are catered for here, with subdued exterior colours offered alongside more vibrant ones - although the former is more in keeping with the Audi brand character. It's a little more low key inside, but there's no issues with the overall high quality ambience.
The Audi A1's compact dimensions mean it should pose few problems when parking. Good visibility and easily judged extremities will be of benefit for the A1's many city-dwelling prospective owners. Parking sensors are well worth it for added convenience.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (95bhp); 1.4-litre (125bhp, 150bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (115bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed S tronic twin clutch DSG. Trim levels: SE, Sport, S line.