Tuning the A1

"The small car with the big performance"

Some may argue that Audi didn't need a small car in the model range but the uptake of the A1 has been phenomenal and the car is a superb high end small car.

Handling and performance are quite good as standard but we shall look at A1 tuning and report on the best modifications. With a few sensible performance modifications you can greatly increase your driving enjoyment.

The A1 is a great project car if you want a track day car, and our members have some interesting projects underway in our forums. The 1.4 Twin charged engine is a great base for a project and the engine offers significant power gains for very little outlay by way of a remap.


Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

See our video which covers all the principles of tuning your Audi.

Most A1 owners seek better handling of their cars as they want it to handle as well as possible. We suggest that you look for some performance suspension parts and lower your car by around 30-35 mm. More than this will generally require arch work such as rolling, pulling or cutting.

Watch out for really stiff suspension, as it impairs the cars grip causing it to bounce over the road surface rather than gripping it.

When it comes to engine tuning you want to get the power coming on early and lasting for as much of the rev band as is possible.


With our common sense tuning guide your A1 can turn out to be a track day performer and yet still be a reliable daily runner.

The biggest power gains usually come from larger engine sizes and turbocharged cars. It is a general rule that the more power you start with the greater the return on investment. Do an engine swap to a 2.0 TFSi for a stonking hot hatch. A tune/remap has to be the top of your list of mods if you have a turbo model, petrol or diesel - they both respond really well and there is lots of hidden power in the engine.

Audi A1 Tuning modifications.

Bear in mind the mantra that you want to keep as much low end power as you can and aim for a wide power band rather than a narrrow top end power spike. Whilst a lot of car part makers will claim peak BHP figures what you really need is a dyno plot showing the full torque curve.

We have guides for the following VAG group engines. (More will be added soon)

The following modifications are usually performed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Getting the right mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 (competition) mods just don't work well on the road.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, lighter flywheel

    Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,power clutch

    Typical stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cam, sports gearbox.

    Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains as far as a bolt on part goes. Don't forget to uprate the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. This makes sense as you need to burn more fuel to match the extra air the engine is using.

    Using uprated injectors and a bigger capacity fuel pump deals with the fuelling issue - which you'll hit when pushing power gains of 60% or more.

    Audi A1 intake and exhaust modifications.

    Before you start doing engine mods you have to get the breathing right and remove any restrictions in the system that could inhibit air flow.  A panel filter made from cotton gauze would give a slight advantage over the paper filters in some conditions. On larger engined models and turbo vehicles with LARGE power gains many people would suggest fitting an induction kit but only where the standard airbox has become a restriction. Where the car power differs little from standard it is not worth adding an induction kit. Ignore anyone who claims that induction kits add power on the A1! This is generally not the case even if you address the problem of it sucking in warm engine bay air by using a cold air feed.

    A good high performance sports exhaust is an essential to balance your engines need for free flowing air, just adding an induction kit on it's own will do little to increase your power. See our article on performance exhausts for details of the issue around large bore exhausts and how to choose the right size for your engine.

    Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional porting and polishing. These should match and be setup to take into account any other engine mods. Your clutch can sap a lot of your power if it starts to slip and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 40 or 50%. Fit a performance clutch to avoid power losses through the transmission.

    Turbo engines are just begging to be remapped. You will see big power gains on most turbo engined cars including diesels making a tune/remap one of the most cost effective modifications.Adding forced induction will see big power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. It is easier to bolt on a supercharger than it is to get a turbo working.

    Turbos give boost in exponential proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult. Superchargers however will give a boost which is proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection and some deft engine management.

    Audi A1 Wheel modifications.

    Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually lighter than the steel ones. Large wheels tend to be heavy and the last thing you want is to increase the unsprung mass in your car, instead choose performance tyres and light weight wheels of a similar size to the OEM settings on your car.Aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the same as supplied from the factory. In all cases we do not recommend going above 17 inches. Larger wheels weigh a lot more and add to the unsprung weight, this makes a big difference on the A1.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums where you can discuss A1 options in more detail with our A1 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Audi tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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