Audi dipped its toe in the water with its first A1, now it’s learned its lessons and dived in. The new A1 is a more mainstream Audi than the old one, more refined, more spacious and more technically advanced. For all that, there are question marks over its ride quality and some of its interior materials, but it looks like a far more convincing machine than its predecessor. Audi has learned plenty of lessons over the extensive life of the A1. First, it learned that only 20% of A1 buyers asked for a three-door, so that’s gone, leaving just one five-door body shell. Second, it learned that it sat too far outside the corporate styling guidelines, so now it sports a Sport quattro-inspired nose and edgier styling. And third, it learned that its own engineering department can’t be trusted to knock out legal diesel engines, so they’ve gone, too.

Like the 2010 A1 before it, the second-generation shares the bulk of its engineering hardware with the Volkswagen Polo, so it’s lucky that th...

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