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Back to Listers Audi
By Jonathan Crouch
Added 8th April, 2016
, updated 13th July, 2018
With its third generation A3, Audi has subtly developed a winning formula. Jonathan Crouch reports.
The beautifully finished Audi A6 Avant demonstrates that practicality needn't be prosaic. Jonathan Crouch reports on the fifth generation version.
If you've ever wondered just how much style and luxury is really possible in a really small car, then it's worth trying one of these. In distilling the essence of 'Audi-ness' into something this compact, the German brand set this A1 apart in the supermini segment, offering a balance between sportiness, quality and comfort that rivals are still struggling to match. True, ground-breaking technology wasn't on the agenda here, but there's a place for that and it probably isn't in this very price-conscious sector of the market. What's more important is that if you climb out of an expensive A4 or A6 into an A1 costing half as much, the feeling is very much the same
That's even more the case with this improved post-2014-era model, with its smarter finish and hi-tech Audi connect infotainment options. All right, so in overall terms, the revisions made to this supermini weren't especially far-reaching, but then they didn't really need to be. There's nothing else in this segment from this era that's quite as polished and premium. The A1 then, is an expensive-feeling little car that for the canny secondhand buyer, may now be just about affordable. A tempting option then.
To celebrate twenty years of production, the third generation Audi TT coupe gets a useful package of improvements that include mild changes to the mechanicals, the cabin and the exterior. As before, it really makes the numbers when it comes to performance and efficiency. Choose from 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol, front or quattro all-wheel drive.
As for styling changes to this enhanced model, well the main one is a revised design for the three-dimensional Singleframe radiator grille and larger side air inlets. Inside, the fascia is dominated by the Audi Virtual Cockpit, now featuring an additional sport display providing information on engine output, torque and g forces.
If the three-door A1 offers all the essence of Audi in smaller form - and it does - then what of this A1 Sportback? In this post-2015-era first generation form, it's certainly small, but usefully versatile, a little urban jewel, trendy if you want it to be, restrained and low key if you don't. It can come power-packed or frugally-focused. It can break hi-tech boundaries. Or be found in a form that won't break the bank. Inevitably though, to experience much of what this car has to offer, you've to spend more than you might ever have expected to on a car of this size. So is it worth it? Well that's a question which for us is easier to answer with this A1 in Sportback guise. It's a beautifully balanced design that from first glance, seems immediately more comfortable with a premium price tag.
In fact, we'd go as far as to say that it's a car that makes more sense the more you spend on it - providing you know what you're buying. That's key to the whole different mind set you need in approaching the purchase of this A1. After all, on paper, you could get much of the same technology in a cheaper Volkswagen Polo. Or indeed an even less expensive ŠKODA Fabia. Fortunately though for Audi, cars of this kind aren't solely bought on paper. No, you'll be considering this, the most expensive supermini on the used market, because you've been just that little bit seduced by Audi's branding and image. Nothing wrong with that of course. A Casio tells the time just as well as a Rolex but sometimes, let's be honest, we just want nice things.
Particularly if long term running cost savings are likely to repay the premium paid up-front. This car does, after all, deliver best-in-class figures for Benefit-in-Kind taxation, overall running costs and residual value, helped by the fact that thanks to the engine revisions made to this post-2015-era car, its economy and CO2 emission figures are right up with the supermini segment leaders from this era. So it seems that small can be beautiful, to head as well as heart. Five does indeed go into one. Audi fans would never have doubted it.
Audi knows better than most manufacturers that there's never a one-size-fits-all solution to modern motoring, hence the range of options offered by its various Q-series models. This one could well be all the car you actually need if you're searching for a compact premium used crossover. Don't think of it as a shrunken version of its Q5 compact SUV stablemate. It isn't really any kind of SUV, instead offering a smarter, more up-market take on the current trend towards lifestyle-orientated Qashqai-class five-seat Crossovers. Sensible, stylish, fashionable cars that are striking such a sweet spot in the current market.
As with almost any model of this kind, this one can easily manage the school run, an extended shopping trip, a weekend away or the annual family ski trip to Chamonix. The difference here though, lies in the quality, the depth of engineering and the sheer feel-good factor that you'll get by having this car on your driveway.
Compromises necessary to create its relatively affordable price tag have been cleverly chosen and detract little from the extremely polished end result. One that in this improved first generation guise delivers on its promises of greater efficiency and extra technology. It's a little sharper to drive too, though could still be more responsive in that respect. Ultimately though, this Audi's priorities lie in other areas. Yes, you can certainly buy something slightly bigger and SUV-ish for this kind of money. But after trying a Q3, you probably won't want to.
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Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages. With dynamic looks and many of the advanced technologies found in our larger models.
Updated in every way. Lighter, with more power, technology and efficiency than ever before
Retaining its distinctive lines, the A5 has evolved with a sharper, more focused appearance,
while inside our latest innovations bring it right up to date.