Review

Audi A1 Sportback hatchback

Price  £14,935 - £26,110

Audi A1 Sportback hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Top-quality interior
  • Superb engines
  • Very stylish
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Limited rear-seat space
  • Uncomfortable ride

At a glance

The greenest
1.6 TDI SE 116PS 5dr £16,010
The cheapest
1.0 TFSI SE 95PS 5dr £14,935
The fastest
2.0 TFSI 231PS quattro 5dr £26,110
Top of the range
2.0 TFSI 231PS quattro 5dr £26,110

"For a little extra money, the Audi A1 Sportback offers even greater versatility than the three-door A1."

The Audi A1 Sportback sounds like an all-new body shape, but in reality Sportback is what Audi calls its five-door hatchbacks. Going for the Sportback means you lose some of the three-door A1's youthful appeal, but it also means you get a lot more practicality.

In all other respects, though, the Sportback is just the same as a normal A1, which means it comes with one of the nicest interiors in its class. Plus the A1 it can be brightened up with colourful trim to appeal to younger buyers.

The A1 can be had with a decent choice of petrol and diesel engines ranging from a 1.2-litre petrol to a 2.0-litre diesel. The top-of-the-range model is now the Audi S1 quattro, which can get from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds.

The range starts with the basic SE model, which gets a 6.5-inch colour display, DAB radio, alloy wheels and air conditioning. Sport models add equipment such as sport seats, a sports steering wheel, sports suspensions and 16-inch alloy wheels. S line models get stiffer S line suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and a subtle body kit. The S1 model is most striking of all and it gets quad exhaust pipes, xenon headlights and LED rear lights, plus adjustable suspension, and quattro four-wheel drive.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4 / 5

All engines offer superbly low running costs thanks to clever technology

Audi offers an excellent range of engines, but it’s the diesels that offer the best economy, with 74.3mpg possible from the 1.6-litre version, which also qualifies for free road tax.

Even so, we'd be tempted to go for one of the petrols, because they don’t sound as harsh under acceleration. Even the basic 1.2-litre feels nippy for a small car and can achieve 55mpg. The 1.4-litre TFSI is genuinely quick and can return 60mpg, while also qualifying for cheap road tax of £20 per year. To do this, the 1.4-litre uses a cylinder-deactivation system, which effectively turns half the engine off when it’s not needed to save fuel. The super-fast S1, meanwhile, will struggle to achieve 40mpg and road tax will be £205 per year.

Audi offers fixed-price servicing, which means there will be no surprise costs, but maintenance will still cost more than it would for a Volkswagen Polo.

Engines, drive & performance

3.5 / 5

All the engines are smooth, quiet and offer plenty of power

The Audi A1 Sportback is bigger than the three-door A1, but it's still a small car and it feels agile as a result. There’s plenty of grip and the steering feels sharp, although it's still not as much fun to drive as a MINI. The fast S1 model is the car to go for if you want the most exciting driving experience and it also gets grippy four-wheel drive.

As standard, the A1 gets a manual six-speed gearbox, but Audi offers an excellent seven-speed DSG automatic, although it's an expensive option. The 1.4-litre TFSI Sport models offer the best balance of economy and performance and can get the car from 0-62mph in just eight seconds. The more economical 1.2-litre petrol goes from 0-60mph in 11.7 seconds, while the 1.6-litre diesel does the same in 10.5 seconds. The 2.0-litre diesel drops that time to 8.2 seconds.

Interior & comfort

2.4 / 5

Impressively comfortable for a small car, although high-spec models have firm suspension

As with most of Audi’s models, how comfortable your A1 is depends a lot on which model you go for. Most cosseting of all are the basic SE models, which get softer suspension and smaller wheels that do a much better job of soaking up bumps in the road. Sport and S line models have firmer suspension that might not be to everyone’s tastes, while the S1 model is stiffest of all.

Whichever A1 you choose, all get a wide range of adjustment for both the steering wheel and the driver’s seat, which means getting comfortable behind the wheel should be easy.

Visibility is also better than the three-door A1 thanks to an extra window in place of thick pillar that means you get a better field of vision when looking over your shoulder.

Practicality & boot space

3.5 / 5

Sportback model has more space than standard A1, but is still far from spacious

With an exterior that's taller and wider than the three-door A1, the Sportback offers more space for its passengers, although the boot has the same 270-litre capacity. This is still substantially bigger than a MINI’s 211-litre boot. Fold down the Audi’s rear seats and capacity grows to 920 litres. Loading is easy thanks to the large boot opening and small boot lip that makes it easy to lift in heavy and cumbersome items.

If you're going to carry adults in the back on a regular basis, then the Volkswagen Polo may be better suited to your needs, because most people will find the Audi’s rear seat quite cramped.

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

Audi A1 Sportback provides five-star safety and top dependability

Coming 63rd place out of 150 cars means the Audi A1 leapt 32 places in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey compared to last year’s result. Owners like its low running costs and find it enjoyable to drive, but it was marked down for poor practicality and overly stiff suspension, although SE models shouldn’t suffer from this.

When the A1 was crash-tested by Euro NCAP, it scored an excellent five-star rating. All models get six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and ISOFIX child-seat mounts.

Price, value for money & options

3.2 / 5

The A1 is expensive, but comes with a lot of kit as standard

You’ll pay around £600 more for the Sportback than for the three-door, but the model is still competitively priced compared to rivals such as the new MINI five-door. The premium badge means the A1 should have some of the best second-hand values in the supermini class.

Even the basic A1 Sportback comes well equipped with air-conditioning, a CD player, alloy wheels, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen, while Sport models get larger alloy wheels and sports seats. S line models have 17-inch alloy wheels and LED interior lighting. The Audi can be bought with big-car features such as cruise control, climate control, xenon headlights and sat nav, although these are all expensive options.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
On our twisting test route, the two-cylinder mode didn’t have a chance to engage very often, but when we encountered a straight or downhill section of road, the switchover was imperceptible. Considering how popular stop-start has become, this fuel saving technology looks like being the next big thing.
4 / 5
Back-seat passengers get slightly more head- and shoulder room than they do in the three-door A1, thanks to the Sportback's extra height and re-designed rear seat. The wheelbase remains the same, so legroom and boot space are unchanged.
4 / 5
Exclusive to the Sportback is a contrasting roof to differentiate it from the 'smaller' A1, as well as a clever new engine that has the ability to shut down two of its four cylinders for super-economical driving.
Last updated 
23 Jun 2014

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