The Mini Cooper, Or Mini Hatch as it's also known, was first introduced in 2001 as the first iteration under BMW's control after the sale of the Rover Group and discontinuation of the classic Mini. It was the first model in what is now an abundant range. The current version is the third generation which was first launched in 2014 and has undergone some design and equipment changes to keep it fresh in that time.
The Audi A1 was first launched in 2010 with the three door version and the five door Sportback arriving the following year. It's had many unique and special editions since its launch and had a second generation released in 2018, which is the current model in production.
As two of the most well known supermini cars on the market it can be difficult to choose between them and know which is best. Our guide will look at the Mini Cooper vs the Audi A1 and identify where they differ to make your choice easier.
Being in the same class is where the similarities end between the Mini Cooper and the Audi A1. Audi have ditched their three door offering for a five door only whereas the Mini Hatchback is still offered with either three or five doors.
They're styling is completely different too. The Mini Cooper barely needs any introduction thanks to its iconic design taken straight from the original model with modern updates which give sit a more mature image. However put them side by side and you'd instantly see the family resemblance.
The Audi A1 is built on the Volkswagen Group's MQB platform and is shared with the VW Polo Mk6 and the Seat Ibiza MK5, although it is still distinctly an Audi. It has a striking new front grille and bumper and is the sportier looking of the two models by far and preferred by those who dislike the cartoon Mini styling.
The Audi A1 has had a huge upgrade to it's interior quality since it's last update. Where the infotainment system previously felt like it was totally separate from the centre console it's now fully integrated into the dash for a more seamless feel.
Mini have kept their signature round screen and upgraded it to an 8.8 inch touchscreen with analogue buttons to support below it. It's completed by an LED light surround which is complimented by the various ambient lighting options that Mini offer.
The A1 will give you more boot space with all seats in use at 335 litres compared to 211 litres in the 3 door Mini Hatch and 278 if you opt for the 5 door hatch. As well as this, Audi includes and adjustable boot floor as standard equipment in all A1 models which means that you've got more flexibility before looking at folding any rear seat down.
Both models offer personalisation options across the trim levels so that you can create your own small package that makes the car really feel like your own. Mini is arguably the better car for this as personalisation is essentially a Mini trait thanks to the numerous options across interior and exterior options such as seat upholstery and trim inserts.
As far as small cars go, both the Mini Hatchback and the Audi A1 do a great job of bringing luxury equipment down to a supermini without completely breaking the bank. With entry levels priced at £22,565 and £20,840 for the two cars respectively they do come in a little more expensive than some others in the class but offer the strong brand names to go with them.
You can expect equipment like LED headlights and daytime running lights, a touchscreen infotainment system, and 15 inch alloy wheels. The Mini Hatchback offers parking sensors, sat nav, and adaptive cruise control as standard on all of it's models whilst the Audi A1 requires you to upgrade to its Sport trim for these.
Similarly both models have a trim level which offers mainly aesthetic additions. For the Audi it's the Black Edition and the Mini has the Resolute Edition.
For the A1 this adds a black styling pack which includes the radiator grille, underbody protection, air inlet grille, exterior mirrors, side skirts, and a contrast roof. It also adds privacy glass and 18 inch black alloy wheels.
The Mini has a Rebel Green exterior paint, bronze detailing including bonnet stripes and sill finishers, 18 inch black alloy wheels, light chequered cloth upholstery, and white mirror caps and roof.
The Audi A1 offers three different petrol engines either five speed or six speed manual gearboxes or seven speed automatic, depending on which option and trim you choose. The Mini Hatchback currently offers automatic gearboxes only (due to ongoing global supply and production restrictions) across three petrol engines. Both cars offer a good amount of handling and limited wind noise at higher speeds.
However if you're looking for a supermini with tarmac rally car aspirations you can look no further than the John Cooper Works engine on the Mini Hatchback. A 2.0 litre petrol engine with 231HP and a top speed of 155mph. For comparison, Audi's engine with the most power is the 35 TFSI which offers 148HP (150PS).
The Mini Hatchback is also known and advertised as driving with go-kart handling thanks to Mini driving modes and has the option to add on additional equipment such as adaptive suspension. Although opting for a humble automatic Cooper with no additional driving equipment is still a refined small car that's fun to drive.
If you're looking for the most refined small car in the automotive world then opting for with the Mini Hatchback or the Audi A1 will take you pretty close to your goal. The great news is that both give you completely different styles and driving performances so you can differ between the two and identify which suits you better.