2 August 2019

Audi A1 2019 Car Review

It’s been nearly a decade since our tester attended the first-generation Audi A1 launch in Berlin, Germany, and the smart little car has remained largely untouched ever since.

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Audi A1 2019
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Audi A1 2019
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Audi A1 2019
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Audi A1 2019
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Audi A1 2019

Now the second-generation has launched, based on the same platform as the delightful VW Polo.

The designer cites rally-inspired looks: we didn’t see it until the three flat slits under the bonnet front were pointed out as a hint to the 1984 Sport quattro, though there’s certainly some flair to this example of the German brand’s otherwise restrained design persona.

Audi says its model name conventions follow power, not engine size. So the entry-level $39,400 A1 30 TFSI gets the 85kW/200NM three-cylinder turbo petrol also fitted to the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza, along with a seven-speed auto transmission.

The mid-range car adds larger wheels and some other design flourishes, and topping the range for now is the variant we tested – the A1 35 TFSI S Line.

The 35 indicates a power range between 110 and 120kW, and the car uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo with 110kW and 250Nm, sending urge to the front wheels via a seven-speed double-clutch auto.

Those are 18-inch wheels, by the way, and there are also comfy sport seats, a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters, extra trim flourishes like the contrast-colour roof, keyless entry, wireless phone charging if your phone can handle it, and a version of the virtual cockpit dash display.

At 10.25 inches that screen is a generous size, and our tester featured a number of boast-worthy items. Want to search for a phone number, or an address, and you can do so via using your finger to ‘write’ on the high-mounted screen. The system picks up what you mean fast, and the display is so high you can virtually do this using peripheral vision.

Our test car included the optional Infotainment pack, and in this, once your your destination is set, you get a full colour satellite view of the terrain you’re driving across – Audi calls it ‘animated navigation’, with the route superimposed. So yes, you do see houses, and shopping centres and etc – not pin sharp, you certainly can’t zoom in to spot an errant trampoline or al fresco picnic, but you do feel almost as if you’re watching your route unfold via helicopter. Very neat, and it certainly feels a cut above – which it needs to, to overcome the cheap feeling of the interior plastics. Everything looks great until you touch it. Our advice is not to fondle your A1’s surfaces, stick to the bits you need to touch, so it’s easy to forget Audi had to cut corners somewhere.

It certainly didn’t do it in the suspension.

We were able to fling this S Line round some very tightly twisting back roads, and found it delightfully agile, the whole package keen as mustard to make the most of it. You might not rally an A1, but the keen driver can have as much joy out of this closet hooligan as his or her more sedate partner will get from its classy aura and those clever infotainment details.

Our only real niggle, other than the plastics, was that the suspension did seem just a touch harsh on the big hits, certainly when taken briskly – a small price to pay for suspenders which will generally cosset a commuter Monday to Friday, and please them when a frisky country road presents at the weekend.

Audi’s followed the trend to slightly upsize a new generation, and this cabin felt spacious enough for the breed, though those with child seats to fit may want to try them out before they buy.

Our test car included a few cost options, which took the standard $47,900 price up to $54,900 thanks to the turbo blue/Manhattan grey colour combo ($800), the Infotainment Pack ($4,100) and the S line interior package ($2,000).

It’ll be interesting to see if buyers instead opt for the similarly talented package available from VW’s Polo GTI at a lower price.

At a glance


Audi A1 TFSI S Line




$47,900 ($54,800 with options as tested)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

110kW at 5000-6000rpm, 250Nm at 150-3500rpm


Seven-speed S Tronic

Fuel economy


Towing capacity

Not rated for towing


2WD front

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

270 litres, 335 litres with back seats folded

Safety systems

  • Parking aid front/rear
  • Rear view camera
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Adaptive cruise control with speed limiter
  • Forward collision warning
  • Auto emergency braking
  • Auto dimming rear view mirror
  • Bluetooth phone hands-free
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