McLaren P1 stars in Forza Motorsport 5 - here's our guide to the cars and tracks
Audi A1 2.0 TDI S Line review (2011 onwards)
Model: Audi A1 2.0 TDI S Line
Bodystyle: Three-door premium hatchback
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel, 143hp @ 4,200rpm, 236lb ft @ 1,750 - 2,500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Date of test: April 2012
What is it?
This is the most potent diesel Audi A1 on sale today. If you're looking for a premium small hatchback then really, you've only got two choices - it's going to have to be a MINI or an A1.
Whereas the MINI is known for its cheeky persona and fun approach - decent engines, agile chassis and nimble handling - the A1 often gets cast as the austere German opponent.
But drop a 236lb ft 2.0-litre diesel motor into a car the size of a shoe and you'd be hard pushed not to deliver a vehicle laden with character, even if that personality was manifested by a wayward hail of understeer - not so in the A1, but more on that later.
Where does it fit?
The 2.0 TDI S Line sits at the top of the A1 range - just shy of the brace of A1 Black Editions - and in standard trim costs £680 more than the MINI Cooper SD's £18,810 list price.
That differential drops to just £220 when specced to the same level as the £22,465 A1 tried here - remove the Audi's £250 variable servicing plan included in the 'as tested' price and it's £30 up on the MINI. Incidentally, that's what you'd have to pay to tax the MINI. The Audi is £10 less.
In performance diesel terms, the MINI is the A1 2.0 TDI's main rival - there's SEAT's Ibiza FR 2.0 TDI that employs the same 143hp engine, but it doesn't offer the same premium feel or cachet of that four-ring badge.
Is it for you?
It's a traditional Audi affair inside. Everything is beautifully finished and looks and feels substantial. It's more demure than the MINI's look-at-me interior and as a result feels much more upmarket.
it's a consummate cruiser
If you actually need more than a modicum of practicality, you'd be better off with an A3, as the A1's boot isn't particularly generous in size.
The A1 2.0 TDI is a small car that you can turn up to a posh do in and not be worried what the valets are muttering behind your back, but it's also a car that can involve you as and when you decide.
The fact that it's a consummate cruiser thanks to its great power and torque output means it just gets better.
If these are qualities you look for in your car - or if you're thinking of downsizing to a supermini - we think you'd get on more than amicably with the little Audi.
What does it do well?
In some respects the A1 feels like a mini Golf GTI. It'll be that grown-up, refined vehicle with that big-car feel - portraying a respectable image - or it can be a complete hoot to drive, morphing into a sporty small hatch that feels as if wrapped round your hips.
This stems from the wheel-in-each-corner setup - all the A1's mass feels contained within the car's axles, and despite what must be the heaviest engine in the range, it never feels like gravity is tearing the front tyres away from a line unduly.
As a result the steering feels pure - the weighting is light, but you do get a good sense of what the front tyres are doing, and the well-judged stability systems keep wheel spin and torque steer to a minimum.
What doesn't it do well?
There's only one ugly bit of trim in the A1's interior - the plastic cowling that surrounds the handbrake. It looks like the soft touch stuff the dashboard is clad with, but it's actually hard and scratchy.
It's not the end of the world, but given that your hand brushes it every time you go for the handbrake - providing a stark contrast to the soft leather trim of the lever - it doesn't feel very 'premium' in comparison to the rest of the interior.
Boot space is pretty dire at 270 litres with the seats up, and you'd be hard pushed to fit a weekly shop for a family in the available load space.
The drawback is that the floor hiding the tyre-weld canister is quite high, hampering practicality. It is better than the MINI's meagre 160-litre offering though.
Beyond this, the A1 is brilliant. The gear change is light but positive and the lever's throw is on the longer side of a good push or pull. These factors aren't things the A1 doesn't do well - merely picky observations that highlight the car's well-rounded ability.
What is it like to live with?
Boot space is an issue as we've already mentioned, and the quickly sloping roofline at the rear means even medium-height adults will be emerging from the rear with a cricked neck.
There are only four seats which is good and bad - the positives are the two rear-seat passengers won't have to rub up against one another, while the negatives mean you'll be leaving your fourth friend behind.
Then again, the A1's closest rival - the MINI Hatch - only houses four with a full complement, so it's not as if the A1 is at a particular disadvantage.
Three doors means access to the rear isn't the easiest, but that's why Audi sells the five-door A1 Sportback.
We averaged around 55mpg
How green is it?
Putting a 143hp 2.0 TDI motor into a slipper-sized vehicle not only makes it fast, but means the engine isn't working as hard to carry around the vehicle's mass, a factor that's significantly reduced over an A4 saloon with the same engine, for example - 1,190kg plays 1,430kg in this instance.
As a result, the stop-start equipped oil-burning A1 emits 108g/km CO2 - meaning £20 yearly road tax - while fuel economy stands at 68.9mpg combined if you've got a sensitive right foot.
If you're pressing on though, watch the fuel needle fall. We averaged around 55mpg in the A1 - still, this is not bad given prolonged periods exploring the throttle's travel.
Would we buy it?
Although its 0-62mph time isn't particularly stellar, for a diesel - where in-gear performance thanks to the car's prodigious torque output and relatively low weight is its real strength - performance is swift.
In truth though, the 105hp 1.6 TDI is probably all the engine you'd ever need in an A1 if you're pottering about town or cruising up and down the motorway. It'll return over 5mpg more combined and you won't have to pay any road tax.
But it's nice to have the full double choc-chip hit, the fillet mignon steak rather than make do with vanilla or rump.
Enough of the food references though. The A1 2.0 TDI is a brilliant little hatchback - if you're after a powerful diesel with that pointy small car feeling in a premium package, you won't be disappointed.
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
A significant horsepower boost and some restyling brings the Aston Rapide on leaps and bounds
Date 21/05/13, Duration 2:30, Views 527