Audi A1 Sportback review
The Audi A1 Sportback is a more practical five-door version of the A1 supermini, designed to take on the MINI Clubman
The Audi A1 Sportback remains a small car with limited practicality, but an extra set of rear doors adds another string to its bow. It also makes it a feasible option for families with small children. It features a wide range of diesel and petrol engines, all turbocharged and with stop start. Audi expects the A1 Sportback to make up two-thirds of A1 sales.
Our choice: A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 140 Sport
The Audi A1 Sportback is six millimetres taller and six millimetres wider than the three-door A1, but there’s very little penalty in terms of style. The sharp creases and dramatic LED lights, front and rear, are carried over. You can tell the Sportback apart by its full contrast coloured roof – available in silver, black and grey – and a unique paint colour – Samoa Orange. There are new alloy wheel designs, ranging from 15 to 18-inch in size, while the stylish cabin gets the same logical layout and top-quality materials as the three-door.
Under the skin the Audi A1 Sportback is identical to the three-door car, so it drives just as well. Its low weight and compact size make it agile in the corners, and an electronic differential that's fitted as standard gently brakes the wheel with least grip, so it resists understeer well and grips hard when you apply the power. Diesel fans get the choice of 104bhp 1.6 TDI and 141bhp 2.0 TDI units, both of which are smooth and punchy, but don’t feel particularly sporty. Petrol options include a 85bhp 1.2 TFSI and a 1.4 TFSI with either 120bhp, 138bhp or 182bhp – all of which can be ordered with a twin-clutch seven-speed S tronic gearbox. These engines feel eager to rev, produce an growl from the exhausts and suit the A1’s character far better than the diesels.
All A1 Sportbacks come with ESP and six airbags as standard. There have been no major recalls on the three-door version of the A1, and seeing as the Sportback is based on the same platform and uses the same engines, it’s a similar story here. Audi has an excellent record for reliability and build quality, so the Sportback should stand up to everyday use well – even if you choose to use it as a family car and put small children in the back.
Thanks to an extra six millimetres in height and six millimetres in width, the A1 Sportback has a little extra headroom and legroom compared to the three-door A1. All UK cars come with five seats as standard, but don’t expect masses of space in the back, tall adults will still 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 with them folded flat. You can adjust the height of the boot floor too, to either maximise space or raise it up to create a perfectly level loading lip.
Stop-start is standard across the A1 Sportback range, and the cleanest model is the tax-free 1.6 TDI with fuel economy and CO2 emission of 74.3mpg and 99g/km respectively. Even the 182bhp 1.4 TFSI, capable of 0-62mph in seven seconds, returns 47.9mpg. The cleverest engine by far though is the brand new 138bhp 1.4 TFSI which features a development of the system already seen on the Audi S8’s 4.0-litre V8. It can shut down two of its four-cylinders on light throttle loads, saving around 5mpg of fuel – the result is 60.1mpg and 109g/km.