If you’re in the market for a supermini and a three-cylinder turbo is available, it has long been the preferred option. Peppy performance, strong refinement and good fuel economy make these engines ideal for any urban commuter. And for the first time,Audi has pounced upon this growing trend by introducing a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo as part of the updates for its A1.
It’s a notable addition for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it becomes the first ever three-cylinder Audi; and secondly, as it brings the price of the A1 to under £15,000. The engine may be new, but its development isn’t. Plucked from the VW Group’s parts bin, the 1.0-litre turbo is shared with the VW Polo and produces the same 94bhp and 160Nm of torque. More impressively, it claims 67.3mpg economy and 97g/km CO2 emissions – figures that will give any prospective A1 diesel buyer something to think about.
If the £1,115 you’ll bank from plumping for the 1.0-litre over the 1.6 diesel doesn’t tempt you, then the far more civilised manner in which it zips you around surely will. In such a small premium package, hearing the offbeat thrum of the three-cylinder up front feels un-Audi-like, but its polished power delivery and punchy character make it a great fit.
There’s some hesitation from the engine pulling away from a standstill, but once you get beyond 1,500rpm, it spins cleanly and quietly. It packs a punch, too, sprinting from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds.
Unfortunately, as the A1 shares much of its DNA with the Polo, it’s more sensible than it is exciting. The smaller 15-inch wheels and softer suspension make our entry-level SE car more comfortable to live with than the Sport model. We just wish the new electric steering provided more feedback.
The long ratios of the five-speed gearbox make it an admirable motorway cruiser, keeping the engine hushed while also returning decent economy. The only downside is the long throw and the fact it’s also rather clunky.
Practicality remains a slight issue on the three-door model, as access to the two-seat rear is tight. However, if you fork out an extra £620 for the five-door Sportback model, you’ll have no such problem as it features a small third back seat.
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