Audi A1 Sportback (2015-2017) Review
What's not so good
Audi A1 Sportback (2015-2017): what would you like to read next?
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.
If you want the premium feel of an Audi saloon in a small package, this is the car for you
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.
The Audi A1 Sportback doesn’t have a bigger boot than the standard A1, but the extra doors and a little more headroom in the rear make it a whole lot more practical
The A1 Sportback only has a little more headroom than the standard A1, but it makes a huge difference
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.
Interior storage is pretty good for this type of car. The A1’s door pockets are shaped specifically to hold a bottle of water, you get cupholders in the centre console and place to put your phone. The glovebox is also pretty large – there’s room for a bottle of water and that’s the case even if you leave the car’s manual in situ.
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.
The 1.4-litre petrol is a fizzy little engine that makes the A1 come alive
Buyers can choose from a pair of petrol engines (1.0 and 1.4-litres) and a 1.6-litre diesel.
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.
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.
Even the cheaper 1.4 makes a good sound and has enough punch to whisk you along in breezy style. Meanwhile, the more powerful (and more expensive) version makes the A1 feel properly sporty.
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 setup, something we would certainly consider.
With bits borrowed from the more expensive models in the Audi range the Sportback feels like a premium product – complete with expensive trim pieces, metal touch points and lots of squidgy plastics that used to be a rarity in this class.