, Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S tronic (122 bhp) Review
More haute than hot

Story by Raymond Lai Photos by Joe Yeo
15 Sep 2011

The Mini is facing fierce competition from the likes of the Audi A1 and Citroen DS3. Who then makes the haut-er hatch to beat the Mini at its own game?

Introduction, styling

The relaunch of the Mini brand in 2000 has proven that premium feel and quality can be replicated in a compact city car or a supermini. More than a million Minis have rolled out of the Oxford plant and found homes worldwide since 2000. With the success BMW has had with the Mini brand, it was just a matter of time before premium competitors like Audi zooms in to have a slice of the Mini’s premium compact car pie, hence the introduction of the A1.

The A1 though, is not the only stylish supermini to want a slice of the Mini’s pie in recent times. Citroen too has introduced a stylish small hatchback in the form of the DS3. By reviving the iconic and evocative DS moniker, Citroen hopes that the DS models can be considered to be premium and hence slightly more expensive versions of regular models – in the case of the DS3, it’s the C3 supermini. The DS3 is the first DS model to be introduced, and will be followed by its bigger sisters the DS4 (C4 based) and DS5 (C5 based, obviously).

When it comes to cars, you would associate meticulous engineering with the German brands while the French is often associated with style and quirkiness. The Citroen DS3 is undoubtedly stylish thanks to its gaping front grille and unique B-pillar treatment among other notable styling features. Compared to the A1, the DS3 is a tiny bit shorter and narrower but is 42mm taller.

The A1 is no less distinctive and stylish next to the DS3 – the headlamps with the ‘wave’ pattern for the daytime running lights, the tornado lines along the flanks, the distinctive tail lamp lenses and the optional aluminium coloured roof arch give the A1its own unique visual character. The A1 is a cute looking thing but it somehow doesn’t have the additional charm and character that the DS3 has. For those who are bored with the way the Mini looks after two generations though, both the DS3 and A1 offer a new dose of refreshing style. In fashion terms, the DS3 and A1 are the hot items in the coming autumn season while the Mini can be considered to be something from the last winter collection.

Just like the Mini and the Fiat 500, both the A1 and DS3 can be customized pretty comprehensively. The DS3 can be adorned with a contrasting roof with or without themed graphics while the wheel centres, key fob, dashboard inlays and side mirror housings can be colour coded with the roof.  The pale blue coloured car pictured here has an optional roof spoiler as well as chrome strips on the lower sides. 17-inch wheels are standard on the DS3 but they somehow don’t fill up the arches convincingly enough. The pale blue/white colour scheme of the car tested here might be a tad feminine for some but as the hot DS3 Racing version or WRC rally car has proven, a DS3 can look sporty and aggressive as well.

The A1 can be had with graphics options like the ‘competition’ pack like on a previous demonstrator that we tested on oneshift. The car in the pictures here is fitted with a S line aero kit, 17-inch wheels instead of 18s on the car with the ‘competition’ pack as well as the aluminium coloured roof arches (highly essential in defining the A1’s style in our opinion). Further customization options can be made in the cabin, including matching interior panels for cars with themed graphics as well as a LED lighting pack and so on.

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Engine Capacity 1390cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10:1
Power 122bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 108.4 bhp per ton


Acceleration 8.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 203 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 19.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF


Body Type 3 Door Hatch
(L x W x H)
(3954 x 1740 x 1416) mm
Wheelbase 2469 mm
Turning Circle 10.7 metres
Kerb Weight 1125 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 45 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs