Audi didn’t do small cars. It did executive saloons for executive people, the odd sports car and one or two SUVs. A decade ago, however, that changed with the introduction of the A1.
Eschewing the daring (and doomed) originality of the A2, the A1 took the successful aspects of the A3 hatch launched 15 years earlier - the assured good looks, the classy cabin, the premium feel - and downsized it into a Polo-sized package. Now into its second generation, the idea of an Audi city car has proved even more popular than anticipated. Because it was always going to; shrinking the size and the price of the Audi, but retaining most of what made it appealing in the first place meant it found considerable favour with the UK’s car-buying public.
There’s been interest for enthusiasts too in the A1, with models like the A1 Quattro and S1. The former was essentially a test bed for the latter, as four-wheel drive required some significant re-engineering. While the limited run Quattro will still cost something approaching its £40k new price (if you can find one), an S1 is now a £15k prospect. For a zesty and entertaining hot hatch, one shot through with the style and quality that made the standard A1 so popular, it’s a canny buy.