Audi A1 vs BMW 1 Series: Used Car Comparison

20th Dec 2023

By Kenny Longdon

Audi vs BMW

Easily two of the most recognisable and sought after car brands in the world, Audi and BMW have a rich history and reputation for excellence.

With both brands being German, we have come to expect textbook models from both the Ingolstadt (Audi) and Munich (BMW) giants who continue to find niches to target, along with their legendary models that continue to evolve excellently with new generations.

This article will have a look at both the brand's entry-level model in the form of the Audi A1 and the BMW 1 Series.

Introduction and Design

Audi A1 Side

It was 2004 when the 1 Series became the new entry-level point in the BMW range, whilst it was 2010 when the A1 became the new entry-level point in the Audi range, replacing the Audi A3, which is actually more of a direct rival to the BMW 1 Series.

In terms of the Audi A1, it's the MINI Hatch that is the more direct rival. And because BMW own MINI, it explains why BMW don't make a car smaller than the 1 Series, as the MINI covers this market for them.

But for the sake of argument, we will ignore technicalities to see just how good the Audi A1 is (pictured), and to see if it can compete with the 1 Series in the class above.

Here we are having a look at the second generation A1 which came along in 2019, and comparing it to the third generation 1 Series, which came along in the same year.

In design terms, both these models complement their respective ranges perfectly, and manage to introduce new buyers to the brands, without denting their reputations.

Spec does play an important part in overall design terms, however. As if you park an Audi A1 Sport next to an Audi A1 S Line, or alternatively a BMW 1 Series SE next to a BMW 1 Series M Sport, you will soon see how spec plays a massive difference, especially on these entry points to the Audi and BMW range.

Versions and Performance

BMW 1 Series Pair

Carrying on from the point above about specification, the fact that the popular Audi trim S Line, and the popular BMW trim M Sport are not that much more expensive than their respective base models only makes these cars even more appealing.

S Line models give a much more sophisticated touch to the A1, whilst M Sport versions make the 1 Series feel much more special too (M135i pictured above in blue next to a regular 1 Series).

Interestingly, both cars don't feature a high performance range-topping version. So there's no Audi A1 RS version of BMW 1 Series M model, although there's a M135i available in the 1 Series which offers much more performance than any Audi A1 model, but it's still not a full-on BMW M car like that of a BMW M2 or M3.

There's also a 128ti version in the 1 Series, which is a direct VW Golf GTI rival, again confirming that if you're after a more dynamic and sporty driving experience, the 1 Series is perhaps more your thing.

A snapshot of engines available are presented below:

Audi A1:

  • 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, (93bhp, 108bhp, 114bhp), 0 to 62mph circa 10 seconds
  • 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, (147bhp), 0 to 62mph circa 7 seconds
  • 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, (200bhp), 0 to 62mph circa 6 seconds

BMW 1 Series:

  • 1.5-litre diesel/petrol, 3-cylinder (114bhp/134bhp) 0 to 62mph circa 10 seconds/8 seconds, up to 60/47mpg (all figures respectively)
  • 2.0-litre diesel, 4-cylinder, (147bhp) 0 to 62mph in circa 8 seconds
  • 2.0-litre petrol, 4-cylinder, (265bhp) 0 to 62mph in circa 6 seconds
  • 2.0-litre petrol, 4-cylinder, xDrive all-wheel drive (301bhp) 0 to 62mph in 4.6 seconds, up to 38mpg

Interior and Technology

Audi A1 Interior

Both interiors in the Audi and BMW are fantastic places to spend time. However, it's the smaller Audi which perhaps pips the 1 Series at first.

This is because both cars came along in 2019, and the A1 (pictured above) featured a digital instrument cluster as standard, whilst the 1 Series didn't.

In later 1 Series models, especially M Sport and the M135i, the interior certainly is much more impressive, with a more striking infotainment/digital cluster and better and more plush material choice.

It's very much a case of the interior can make or break the 1 Series depending on spec, whilst the A1 gets it spot on from the base specification, giving you the feeling you're driving something much more special than an entry-level model.


Audi A1 Boot

Both the Audi A1 and BMW 1 Series come with five doors as standard, meaning family life is much easier.

The 1 Series does feel bigger in terms of interior space, as you'd expect being the next segment up on the Audi. This is further expressed in terms of boot size, as expressed below.

  • Audi A1 (pictured above) - 335 litres or 1,090 with the rear folded
  • BMW 1 Series - 380 litres or 1,200 with the rear seats folded

Naturally, being in the segment above, the 1 Series has a bigger boot, but as you can see from the figures it's not as big as you perhaps would think.

You do get more interior space on the whole, and it just feels that it would cope with family life that little bit better and easier.

Value and Final Thoughts

BMW M135i

If you are after a 5-door hatchback that showcases a premium vibe, both the Audi A1 or BMW 1 Series are fine candidates for your shortlist.

The 1 Series feels a lot more dynamic, especially in M135i guise (pictured above), but if you're wanting a car that feels premium but doesn't damage the wallet, an A1 in S Line trim looks hugely more premium than it is, whilst its peppy engine doesn't dent its overall appeal like some engines in the 1 Series could.

On the other hand, a later 1 Series is a better bet than an early 1 Series, as these tend to feel a little dated with an analogue instrument cluster. M Sport trims are worth seeking out, whilst if you have your heart set on the best 1 Series out there, a M135i will give almost as much fun as an M car, without the higher running costs.

So, can the Audi A1 compete with the BMW 1 Series in the class above. In short, yes. The BMW 1 Series may offer a more dynamic driving experience, especially when looking at the rather rapid M135i version, but if you just want a smart, sophisticated and practical hatchback, the Audi A1 will be a better bet for some. And with a fully digital interior as standard, the A1 does feel more up to date than early 1 Series models.

Find your perfect used car at Evans Halshaw

No matter if you're looking for a used Audi A1 or used BMW 1 Series, let Evans Halshaw help you find it with our comprehensive selection of used cars.

Or, if you enjoyed reading this article, check out similar via our dedicated blog section, or why not have a look at our new car offers if you happen to fancy a new car instead.