Nipped In The Bud (Audi A1 Sportback long term test month two)


IT’S DEFINITELY my fault of course, but I’d hoped to extract more miles per gallon from the A1 Sportback’s 1.4-litre TFSI petrol unit due to more vigilance on my part rather than an intervention from the law. Sadly it turned out to be the later. Yes your honour, I did exceed the speed limit (averaging 57mph in a temporary 50mph limit on the motorway, as it happens) and copped the subsequent penalties as a result.

Not that I’m a regular law-breaker you understand, but the incriminating scribble on my licence has made me that little bit more vigilant with the speedometer, and a month of gentle right footing has had a dramatic effect on the A1’s fuel consumption. My regular commute has turned into an easy 45mpg run, which in turn results in another 50 miles or even more from every tank of unleaded. That might not seem like much but it’s already beginning to add up.

And a more relaxed approach to being behind the wheel has revealed that the A1 can do relaxed too. The A1’s driver’s seat is one of the few I’ve spent thousands of miles in that doesn’t need constant adjustment to feel comfortable in, and the fabric even cleaned up well when I managed to spill almost the entire contents of a fruity drink all over it. In fact when you choose to clean the whole thing from top to bottom the simple dash design makes it easy to get all the dust and grime out of it.

A long overdue comprehensive clean left the A1 looking its best in the last of the summer sunlight too. Having spotted plenty of other A1s on the road I’m confident in the conclusion that the combination of white paint and the multi-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels is just about perfect. It still looks fresh and modern, and much more expensive than the competition, even if there isn’t much in it when it comes to the sticker price.

There has been a refreshing absence of niggles too. Everything still thunks and clunks shut as solidly as it did when it was brand new, the paint still gleams and the cabin fabrics have stood up to everything that have literally been thrown at them – which is handy when you have two small boys to help on that front.

Time spent away from the A1 also served as a strong reminder of how easy it is to live with. A 10-hour flight and three days driving on the left tends to leave you running pretty low on brain power, but it welcomed me back with an open door and that comfy seat and got me home in one piece. And it swallowed my absurdly oversized bag, plus a smaller one, a pair of Hunter wellies, an umbrella, a rain mac and other assorted detritus without resorting to dropping the seats or moving the parcel shelf. It’s compact, but not small.

In fact the biggest problems with this A1 are centred around the fact that I’m going to have to give it back and the rare occasions when I’m lusting after a different engine. On the occasional B-road blast it’s easy to lust after the extra punch of the 1.8-litre TFSI version and conversely on a motorway trudge the 70mpg+ of the diesel seems highly appealing. But in truth the 122PS 1.4-litre version manages to combine a very strong set of figures, balancing both economy and performance whilst costing considerably less than either.

It’s teaching me the lesson that being in the middle doesn’t necessarily translate as compromise and can mean balance instead. And balancing progress and economy helps to keep the Police busy looking after important things and not pointing out how silly I’ve been…


Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI Sport, £17,680 list, £20,085 as tested

Engine: 1.4-litre petrol producing 120bhp and 147lb.ft of torque

Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 126mph, 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds

Economy: 53.3mpg combined (official), 40.50mpg average in month two


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