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Audi A1 2020 review: 35 TFSI S tronic

Do good things comes in small packages?

Occupying the lowest rung on the premium ladder, the A1 represents an important entry point for  buyers keen to get their first taste of the Audi brand.

For my family test I drove the second-generation Audi A1 35 TFSI S tronic. If looks are anything to go by, then, compared to the previous generation vehicle, this represents a major step in the right direction for this premium hatchback.

But what is it like to live with as a daily driver? And how will this handle hauling my three kids and I around for the week? And more importantly, how much better than the first-generation vehicle is it? 

What does it look like?

Exactly how you might expect a well-designed premium European hatchback to look. The curves from the first-generation A1 are gone and sharp design elements abound, starting up front with the headlights and LED DRLs, book-ending the big grille. It’s a sharper and more athletic looking car, and for mine, it puts the bigger A3 hatch in the shade.

The A1 is a sharper and more athletic looking car. The A1 is a sharper and more athletic looking car.

There are various metallic paint finishes on offer, but my test car was  dressed in Python Yellow and topped with a contrasting black roof. While the yellow would not be my first (or second) choice, the contrasting roof colour ($890 option) is worth considering.  

Behind the steering wheel is Audi's virtual cockpit. Behind the steering wheel is Audi's virtual cockpit.

The interior fit-out is spot on, too, with a continuation of the angular design used on the exterior. It’s clean, stylish and functional. The touchscreen is neatly ensconced in the dash and angled towards to the driver, too. While there are various hard plastics used throughout, the fit and finish delivers on the premium promise.   

How does it drive?

The drive is properly buttoned-down. The handling is sharp and there was a good deal of punch under acceleration with four of us in the car – not blisteringly quick, maybe, but there's enough grunt to make it enjoyable. That said, ride quality around town on the 17-inch alloys is firm, and at times a little jarring, depending on the quality of the tarmac.

The A1 35 TFSI S tronic wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The A1 35 TFSI S tronic wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

Under the bonnet sits a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing modest, yet capable, outputs of 110kW and 250Nm. The engine comes with ‘cylinder-on-demand’ technology, which can shut down two of the four cylinders when cruising to help conserve the expensive premium unleaded you've filled it up with.

Over the week we covered around 460km of suburban and city driving with trip computer displaying a fuel consumption reading of 6.7L/100km. A bit higher than Audi’s official combined figure of 5.8L/100km, sure, but still decent for a small hatchback.

How spacious is it?

Roomy enough for weekday hops but a squeeze on the weekend. The good news is this new generation A1 has been stretched by 94mm, which does deliver some extra space. Upfront headroom and leg room is plentiful and the seating positions provide good support and comfort. Sitting behind my driving position I had a couple of inches of head room, but only a finger-width of knee space.  

Sitting behind my driving position I had a couple of inches of head room, but only a finger-width of knee space.  Sitting behind my driving position I had a couple of inches of head room, but only a finger-width of knee space.

While the boot space has improved by 65 litres on the previous generation (to 335 litres VDA) we had to milk every last litre of space to squeeze all our gear in over the weekend. Cargo capacity increases to 1090 litres with the 60/40 seats folded down. Small families considering this car would do well to test out the boot, particularly if they have a pram.

With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 335 litres VDA. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 335 litres VDA.

How easy is it to use every day?

Like most urban-focused hatchbacks, the A1 proved to be a capable daily driver. Its smaller dimensions are well suited to city driving, navigating tight spaces and parking of any sort. That said, the ride is on the firm side, which became a little more wearing on longer trips over the weekend.  

Storage upfront is impressive with a large bin under the climate controls, three cupholders and a centre console box. Passengers in the rear seat have a bottle holder in each door but no cupholders, centre arm rest or map pockets.

Rear passengers have a bottle holder in each door but no cupholders. Rear passengers have a bottle holder in each door but no cupholders.

It’s worth noting that the seats are positioned quite low to the floor but are fully adjustable for those upfront. Visibility from the driver’s seat is good with parking sensors (front and rear) and a quality rear camera to help when needed.

There are two USB ports and a wireless phone charging bay, plus the tech is intuitive and easy to read and use. More on that later.

How safe is it?

The A1 has been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to a strong standard safety list. Headlining the safety stuff  is the auto emergency braking system (AEB), which works up to 250km/h for other vehicles or up to 65km/h for pedestrians, and which is joined by lane departure warning and lane keep assist.

Our 35 TFSI also came with six airbags, stability control and braking aids. Parents carrying young kids can make use of two ISOFIX anchors or three top-tether points.

Absentees include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, neither of which are available on any A1 model.

What’s the tech like?

It’s on-point for a hatchback at this price range, and a major step up from the previous generation. The most obvious stuff is the 8.8-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and the 10.25-inch digital dash.

Inside, the A1 has a 8.8-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inside, the A1 has a 8.8-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Both screens provide crystal-clear graphics making it easy to see key information at a glance while driving. The 8.8-inch touchscreen, angled towards the driver, is responsive and a cinch to navigate.

Our 35 TFSI was optioned with the Technik package which brings Audi’s virtual cockpit, in-built navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay, too.

How much does it cost to own?

The mid-grade 35 TFSI is priced at $35,290, placing it $3000 more than the 30 TFSI and some $11,000 cheaper than the top of the range 40 TFSI. It’s worth noting our 35 TFSI was optioned with metallic paint ($990), contrasting black roof paint ($890), cloth upholstery in Novum style ($500), Style package ($2,990) and Technik package ($3200), bringing the final price to $40,160.

Standard inclusions for your $35,290 include 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and push-start, ambient interior lighting, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, armrest centre console, and a wireless phone charging bay.


The Wrap

The 35 TFSI is sharply designed package full of quality tech and features a generous specification list. What’s more, it’s actually quite entertaining to drive. For my three kids and I, the 35 TSI was an ideal daily driver for weekdays and worthy of consideration as a second car to sit alongside a larger family hauler.

Likes

Sharp looks
Quality tech
Fun daily driver

Dislikes

Firm ride
Pricey options
Not a weekend family hauler

Scores

Dan:

4

The Kids:

3.5

$35,290

Based on new car retail price

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