"For a little extra money, the Audi A1 Sportback offers even greater versatility than the three-door A1"
The Sportback is a more practical five-door version of the Audi A1, designed to rival the MINI Clubman. It's slightly taller and wider than the three-door, so there's more room in the rear. The extra doors make the A1 a realistic proposition for families with small children, although rear space is still tight for adults. There's a wide choice of turbo petrol and diesel engines, all with stop-start. One highlight of the range is the 1.4 TFSI petrol, which can shut down two of its four cylinders as you’re cruising along, to save fuel.
For such a small car, the A1 Sportback has a huge engine range. The cleanest is the 104bhp 1.6 TDI diesel, with 74.3mpg economy and 99g/km of CO2. The fastest is the 182bhp 1.4 TFSI petrol; the cheapest is the 85bhp 1.2 TFSI petrol. There are also 120bhp and 138bhp 1.4 TFSI petrols and a 141bhp 2.0 TDI diesel. A smooth six-speed manual box is standard, with a seven-speed S tronic automatic an option on 1.4 TFSIs. Thanks to its low weight and small size, the A1 feels agile in corners and has lots of grip.
The A1 is generally comfortable and exceptionally quiet, even at motorway speeds – and that's very impressive considering its size. Three trim levels are available – SE, Sport and S line – and the suspension gets harder as you move up the range. So while S line models look great with their 17-inch alloy wheels, they don’t absorb bumps very well. Whichever you go for, the A1's interior is beautifully made, with high-quality materials and the kind of technology you’d find on large luxury cars.
There have been no major recalls on the three-door version of the A1, and seeing as the Sportback is based on exactly the same platform and uses the same engines, you can expect a similar story. Audi has built up an excellent record for reliability and build quality over the years, so the Sportback should stand up well to the wear and tear of daily life– even if you choose to use it as a family car and transport small children in the back.
AS it's 6mm higher and 6mm wider than the three-door A1, the Sportback is a little roomier. All UK cars have five seats as standard, but don’t expect masses of space in the back – tall adults will find it a squeeze to sit behind one another. Boot space is on a par with the three-door, so that means 270 litres of space with the rear seats in place and 920 litres once they’re folded. You can also adjust the height of the boot floor to maximise space or create a level loading lip.
Value for money
The A1 Sportback costs only around £600 more than the equivalent three-door. Standard equipment on entry-level SE models includes 15-inch alloys and air-conditioning, while top-spec S line cars get LED interior lighting and 17-inch wheels. Just be careful when adding options like the sat-nav, panoramic roof, 14-speaker Bose stereo and leather interior, because these can hike the price rapidly.
Only one model – the 104bhp 1.6 TDI – is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge, as it emits 99g/km. The 138bhp 1.4 TFSI isn’t far behind with 60.1mpg economy and 109g/km of CO2. This engine uses a cylinder deactivation system, shutting down two of the four cylinders when you’re cruising to save fuel. It's worth bearing in mind that as with all Audis, servicing costs will be above average.