It’s been nine years since Audi decided to shake up the small car segment with its Mini-rivalling ‘premium’ A1.
While the original car remained largely unchanged for almost a decade, the new version has undergone a total redesign.
Three-door versions have been scrapped, along with diesels. So fleet customers only get a choice of three- and four-cylinder petrol engines in five-door Sportback guise.
There is a range of technology from Audi’s larger cars available in the A1 plus a distinctive new look.
Full figures aren’t available yet, but the cheapest version currently offered is the 30 TFSI SE priced from £18,340 P11D.
It uses a 116PS 1.0-litre engine that emits 111g/km of CO2. There will shortly be a 95PS version, badged 25 TFSI that will form the range entry point.
A more powerful 35 TFSI uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine to develop 150PS, while the range-topping 40 TFSI has a 200PS 2.0-litre unit.
All new Audi A1s come equipped with autonomous emergency braking, a digital instrument cluster and LED headlights as standard.
Stepping up from SE to Sport includes larger 16-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and grilles, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
S Line versions are fitted with more aggressive-looking bumpers and sports suspension.
The infotainment system is lifted from the latest ‘big’ Audis and features digital radio, Bluetooth and Smartphone connectivity.
An optional Technology Pack (£1,650) increases the touchscreen size from 8.8 inches to 10.1 and adds navigation and connected services.
It puts the A1 at the top of its class for infotainment, with Google satellite mapping and Live traffic updates available through the high-resolution display. The pack also upgrades the instrument cluster to Audi’s full Virtual Cockpit, which replicates the sat-nav map on-screen and provides customisable views.
The interior is more driver-focused and has a far more modern design, when compared with the previous car.
Contrasting trim pieces enhance the look, while the main touchpoints have a high quality feel.
Less impressive is the hard plastics used on the door cards and lower dash area.
Audi offers a large range of personalisation options on the new A1, including different roof colours, a range of wheel options and various interior trims.
A full range of ‘big-car’ features are also the options list, such as keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and leather upholstery.
When it comes to driveability, the A1 majors on refinement. It sits on the motorway as happy as a Volkswagen Golf, with little wind noise and good performance.
Long gearing on the 30 TFSI keeps the engine speed low, although it makes acceleration feel a little lacklustre.
Thankfully, the engine is happy to rev and retains its refinement even when you work it hard.
When cruising, the fuel economy will nudge 50mpg, with low 40s achieved around town.
Light controls mean the car is easy to drive, although not the most enjoyable in this segment.
Company car drivers should expect to pay between £80-90 per month in benefit-in-kind tax for the 30 TFSI in mid-range Sport trim.
Our test car had a number of options fitted, such as the aforementioned Technology Pack, heated seats (£300) and climate control (£450), bumping the overall price to £24,000.
Drivers may find the Ford Fiesta offers greater value for a similar outlay. The high-spec ST Line X is better to drive, offers similar refinement and comes with a more powerful 125PS engine for £20,115.
The Audi does have lower running costs, mainly thanks to its stronger residual value (RV)predictions.
It’s likely that drivers will be attracted to the A1 over its mainstream rivals though, even if they are getting less equipment, as the Audi badge carries significant weight.
The new A1 is exactly what it sets out to be: a small and efficient ‘premium’ car. There is adequate passenger space, impressive refinement and a competitive boot.
It has looks to impress, enough performance to suit most tastes and running costs that won’t upset a fleet manager.