FROM its leather multi-function, flat-bottomed steering wheel to its 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels the Audi A1 Black Edition is the personification of an accomplished modern driver’s car.
And yet everything about it is understatement in miniature.
If you want to look flash and command an ego-bursting road presence then this week’s test car is probably not for you.
However, if you want a car that delivers on so many fronts from comfort to performance without fuss, then the A1 could be your new car buy for 2017.
Of course, throughout its extensive model range, Audi endeavours to please all of the people all of the time — and to a large extent succeeds.
After all, I find the giant of the pack, the Audi Q7, a veritable queen of the road, allowing the driver (and passengers) to feel rather aloof and privileged if they are not careful.
The Q7 is by any standards an excellent car — but you might feel you need a certain aplomb to carry it off.
Not so at the other end of the scale, where to my mind Audi gets down to the nitty gritty of providing quality, purposeful cars without any need to stroke the ego of the buyer. So at the baby end of the Audi model range is the A1, which actually starts at a reasonable £14,530.
The Black Edition I have been driving may cost you a shade under £10,000 on top of that basic price, but it is super small car driving in its finest form. Look at the stats: this car swoops from 0 to 62mph in 7.8 seconds and would — if you let it — crack on with ease to a top speed of 134 mph.
Economy-wise (and depending on how you drive) official figures give you 58.9 mpg on the combined cycle. Not bad for a little car.
But inside it does not feel small in any sense of the word. Indeed, in the Black Edition, you could be forgiven for feeling positively pampered.
Black Edition equipment, according to the Audi brochure, will cost you an extra £1,595. You can see what some of that equipment consists of at the end of this article.
Suffice to say the front sport seats in leather/¬†perforated Alcantara upholstery with embossed S line logo were magically comfortable — especially on a longish road trip. This can be an acid test for smaller cars. After all, in a big car you expect to be comfortable, particularly on a long journey.
But most folk seem to have to unfold themselves from a small car and readjust their body form after many miles.
I found this not to be so in the Audi A1 Black Edition. I felt as comfortable after an hour-long journey as I did in any car I can recall. And the return journey was just as kind to the body.
This is important and I think will grow in significance for motorists as the years go by. We must be spending more and more time in our cars whether for leisure or work. How often these days do we start off on a journey that in theory will take an hour and end up spending 90 or more minutes behind the wheel?
So although you might be forking out a fair bit of your budget on such a car as the Audi A1 Black Edition, in the long run it has to be a good investment for both your health and wellbeing. And along the way, you can also be sure you are going to have some fun driving this car.
The test car had seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission which translates for most drivers to sticking the car in automatic and letting it do the work (and power/performance calculations) for you.
However, if you want to have some fun, there are the paddles on the steering wheel, which when mastered allow you to take charge of performance and gear-changing, thus giving you more overall control of the car.
Driven like this, using the rev counter to maximise your performance, a car like the Audi A1 Black Edition can be a lot of fun and give you an entirely different and pleasing view of the car’s capabilities.
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Black Edition 150 PS S tronic
Total cost for test model: £25,815
Colour: Misano red, pearl effect
Front sport seats in leather/perforated Alcantara upholstery with embossed S line logo
Options include: comfort pack, £525; advanced key £390; technology pack, £1,495; rear floor mats, £60; front centre armrest, £125
CO2 emissions: 116 g/km
Wheels: 18inch five V-spoke design, titanium finish, diamond cut alloy wheels
Black styling package includes rear diffuser in high-gloss black, radiator grille frame and struts in high-gloss black, side air inlets in high-gloss black, tailpipes in high-gloss black, front lip spoiler in high-gloss black, number plate holder and radiator grille in matt black
Audi sound system
Black Edition is only available in the following colours: Brilliant black; Glacier white, metallic; Floret silver, metallic; Misano red, pearl effect; Daytona grey, pearl effect; Mythos black, metallic