£16,225 - £24,745 Price range
53 - 74 MPG
The Audi A1 Sportback has the build quality of a premium car in a small five-door hatchback body. It’s a worthy alternative to models such as the Mini 5-door, Volkswagen Polo and the trendy Fiat 500. Save an average of £1,950 if you buy your A1 Sportback via carwow.
One of the A1’s biggest selling points at launch was its high-quality interior, but time has not been kind to the Audi and the new Mini hatchback trumps it in terms of quality, and is also a good deal more interesting to look at.
The Sportback’s rear doors give it an obvious advantage over the three-door version of the A1 and it also offers slightly more head and legroom in the back, although tall adults will still struggle to get comfortable. Its boot is also a bit smaller than the Polo’s.
The A1’s small size makes the Sportback very easy to drive, even if it isn’t quite as much fun as a Mini. The engine range is excellent, however, and the 1.6-litre diesel can return more than 80mpg. The 228hp S1, meanwhile, offers speedy performance that is almost unheard of in a car of this size.
Standard equipment levels are decent, but not brilliant considering the A1 is one of the more expensive models in class. That means all A1s get air-conditioning, a DAB digital radio, plus electric windows front and rear, but Audi charges extra for a Bluetooth phone connection.
Audi is preparing to launch a new high-performance model before the A1 is replaced in 2018. See exclusive renders in our Audi RS1 price, specs and release date article.
With bits borrowed from the more expensive models in the range the Sportback feels like a premium product, but some of the switchgear feels a little low rent and the infotainment system’s graphics can’t match the clarity and colours you get in a Mini.
Audi A1 Sportback passenger space
Compared to the three-door A1, the Sportback has 11mm of extra headroom in the back. It’s not much but it makes longer journeys a whole lot more viable – it’s still not really the designed for carrying more than two adults in the back, though.
Audi A1 Sportback boot space
The Sportback’s boot capacity is unchanged from the three-door model, so it has 270-litre capacity available behind the rear seats and 920 litres with them folded down.
There are no mechanical differences between the three- and five-door cars, so what applies to the standard A1 applies to the Sportback too. This means the car is easy to drive with precise steering and little body lean in corners. Nevertheless, the Mini hatchback is more fun.
A big complaint is the A1’s stiff suspension in S line trim, it amplifies bumps in the road and isn’t helped by that model’s larger wheels. Cars supplied from June 2015 will have the no-cost option to specify a softer set up, something we would certainly consider.
Buyers can choose from a pair of petrol engines (1.0 and 1.4-litres) and a 1.6-litre diesel.
Audi A1 Sportback petrol engines
In June 2015 the 1.2-litre petrol was replaced with a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine which makes more power (94hp versus the 1.2’s 85), uses less fuel (67.3 vs 55mpg) and emits just 97g/km of CO2.
The 1.4 petrol can be specified with a clever Cylinder on Demand system that gives enough power (140hp) for quick overtakes, but returns impressive fuel economy of 60.1mpg.
Audi A1 Sportback diesel engines
While all Sportbacks are cheap to run, the most frugal is the 1.6-litre diesel. It can return more than 80mpg and produces CO2 emissions of 93g/km. Better still, with 116hp it is also pretty quick for a car of this size.
The unit got compliments about how enthusiastic it is and how it loves to be worked hard. You can get the car with a six-speed manual or the S Tronic automatic gearbox. The automatic did get criticised for being jerky when manoeuvring at low speeds. The six-speed manual is the favourite despite the fact that some might not like the fact it can feel too light but it is much cheaper than the automatic option.
This 1.4 engine is quite economical, chiefly because it comes with start/stop technology. It boasts 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 112g/km, so only costs £30 a year in tax.
The 183bhp version returns up to 47.9mpg on average and produces 139g/km of CO2. The higher powered 1.4 petrol goes from 0-62mph faster, 7 seconds, whilst the lower powered unit completes the 0-62mph sprint in 9 seconds.
The 121bhp unit is the cheapest of the two since you can get it in any of the three trim levels; SE, Sport and S-Line and you have the choice of the manual as standard or the S Tronic gearbox as a cost option.
The higher powered 183bhp engine is the most expensive in the range so far as you can only get it in S Line trim with the S Tronic automatic gearbox.
If you’re looking for an engine with good power and low running costs then look out for the 2.0 TDI diesel and the 1.4TSI with Cylinder on Demand technology when they are released later in 2012. For now though, the 1.4TSI with 121bhp is the pick of the range.
With the impressive and very hi-tech 1.4 petrol, the A1 Sportback gets plenty of favourable reviews. Critics were satisfied with the car’s refinement and build quality, and many had admirable comments regarding the engine’s efficiency.
The main highlight of the motor is the cylinder deactivation technology that was previously the sole preserve of Audi’s 4.0 V8. Under light throttle loads, two of the four cylinders shut down, which enables better fuel economy – in this mode, Audi claims up to 60 mpg is possible. However, it’s also useful in other areas – quite a few testers were satisfied with the refinement, and the 140hp on tap makes it one of the fastest A1s in the range.
Overall, it’s a hugely impressive engine that offers an enticing blend of performance and fuel economy. At time of writing, prices haven’t been confirmed just yet, though we do expect it to be one of the more expensive Sportbacks in the range. That being said, if your budget can stretch far enough by the time it lands in showrooms during the summer, it’s certainly worth having a look at.
The only diesel engine you can currently get for the Audi A1 Sportback is the 1.6TDI which produces 104bhp and goes from 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds.
Until a new 141bhp 2.0 diesel arrives in the summer, this is the only oil burner in the range. Thankfully, it seems to be a very good one – it’s by no means the fastest A1 on sale, but the wide power and torque band means it doesn’t have many problems with getting up to speed.
One complaint is the fact that the engine does feel rougher than the petrol units and you can feel the vibrations from it on the controls.
However, where this engine shines is the appealing running costs. It is very cheap to run with up to 74mpg and the 99g/km of CO2 emissions, making it exempt from road tax and Congestion Charge zones.
However, experts didn’t think it was as entertaining as a car with the word ‘sport’ in its name should be, and stated that the upcoming diesel unit or the 1.4 petrol engines are the ones to go for if you want your A1 to be fairly fast. That being said, it is one of the cheapest A1s to buy and run, so it’s certainly one to look out for if you want a relatively affordable premium hatchback.
The 1.6 TDI is available in all three trim levels; SE, Sport and S-Line however, for now, you can only get it with a 5 speed manual gearbox. Other engines in the range such as the 1.4TSI have the option of the S Tronic automatic gearbox.
It’s not the cheapest engine you can buy with the A1 but it isn’t that much of a jump in price from the cheapest unit available, the 1.2 TSI.
The Sportback model has not been specifically tested by Euro NCAP, though its three-door A1 sister car got a five-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2010. The Sportback comes as standard with electronic stability control, six airbags and traction control. Headlights that dip automatically when they sense another vehicle are a £345 option that are worth going for if you often drive on country roads at night.
Basic SE trim gets you equipment such as a 6.5-inch colour display, a DAB radio and electric windows all round. Audi buyers rarely choose the entry-level model preferring to choose mid-range Sport and top-end Sport line trim levels.
Audi A1 Sportback Sport
The Sport model gets sharper looks courtesy of 16-inch alloy wheels (up form the 15-inch versions in SE trim), polished exhaust pipe tips and fog lights. There’s also the option to choose stiffer suspension, but the standard set up is better suited to UK roads. It’s also the cheapest model to come with a Bluetooth phone connection as standard.
Audi A1 Sportback S line
S line models get an even racier look – they come as standard with a body kit, which includes a boot-mounted spoiler, side skirts and a different grille design. Inside there’s climate control, sports seats and LED mood lighting. S line models also have automatic headlights and wipers.
If you’re already considering an Audi A1, then the relative cost compared to competitors probably won’t enter into it – to be fair it’s no more pricey than a true rival such as the Mini. It’s a question of practicality, really, and if you regularly carry rear passengers the Sportback’s extra doors and more generous backseat space makes it a better option than the regular A1.
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