Audi A1 Sportback 30

TFSI S line

Audi A1 Sportback, front action
Audi A1 Sportback, front static
Audi A1 Sportback, full front static
Audi A1 Sportback, side static
Audi A1 Sportback, rear static
Audi A1 Sportback, rear action
Audi A1 Sportback, dashboard

IT'S all too easy to lose chunks of your day if you click on Audi's website and start the hunt for a new set of wheels.

Choosing the model is only the start and picking obvious features like colour and trim have barely scratched the surface.

You have many layers to discover before you have the Audi Code to show your dealer and start talking turkey about the bottom line.

Take the new Audi A1 Sportback, smallest car in the range and a stylish reworking of a model that introduced lots of people to a new Audi for the first time.

Priced from £18,540, this compact five-door hatchback shares lots of bits you can't see (engines and gearboxes, for instance) with a VW Polo or Skoda Fabia but wraps them in a body more polished on the outside and plusher when you slip inside.

The result is the sort of car that can hold its head high in any company and make a virtue of its modesty as you slide into a tight parking space outside that trendy restaurant that's pulling in all the good reviews.

Keeping things small extends to the A1's engine choice too; but the modern wonders of turbocharging mean that power and size no longer need go together.

Which translates in this car into a nipper with a spritely turn of speed from its one litre engine; feeling plenty powerful enough as the smooth changing automatic gearbox reacts to a demand for more speed.

The all round smallness also sees benefits at the pumps. After some 500 miles of varied use the A1's trip computer showed 47.9mpg. Which is a result, you'd have to say.

Keeping size in check means there's no more than enough space inside the car - but enough is fine, with room in the back for proper grown-ups and a boot that won't swallow half a house move but is big enough for everyday domestic duties.

You sense the A1's lightness in a delightfully positive way when the road turns bendy, with an eagerness to react to steering instructions you won't find on a beefier machine. It adds up to a car whose nimble nature will bring an easy smile.

Rather less entertaining is a ride on a typical British apology for a main road that never settles down and turns twitchy when you turn down the lane for home.

That's because the car was an S line version of the A1, which brings with it added sporty touches on looks as well as lowered and stiffened suspension and bigger alloy wheels, both doing nothing for the ride.

But there's a solution; take the Sport option instead and you'll have softer springs and smaller alloys for a smoother time on the bumps and still enjoy a car with a sportier look than the standard version.

FAST FACTS

Audi A1 Sportback 30 TFSI S line

Price: £23,180

Mechanical: 114bhp, 999cc, 3-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 9.4secs

Combined MPG: 48.7

Insurance Group: 20

C02 emissions: 108g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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