Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 TDI

Road-tax free diesel is the most efficient choice in the five-door A1 Sportback line-up

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

This entry-level diesel isn’t the most exciting engine in the A1 range, but it still offers an attractive mix of exceptional fuel economy and refinement, plus prices start from £15,040 for an SE model. The five-door Sportback looks as good and drives as well as the three-door A1, but is marginally more practical.

A few weeks ago, we drove an Audi A1 Sportback with the new 138bhp 1.4 TFSI petrol engine, which is capable of shutting down two cylinders on the move. Now it’s the turn of the diesel efficiency champion.
The five-door A1 1.6 TDI weighs 25kg more than its three-door equivalent, but offers identical 74.3mpg fuel economy and 99g/km CO2 emissions. On the road, it doesn’t feel like a pared-back eco special. Press the throttle and the speed builds steadily and smoothly with little more than a hum from under the bonnet. Refinement is so good that it’s easy to forget you’re in something the size of a VW Polo.
Video: watch Jack's video review of the new A1 Sportback
But if it’s driving thrills you’re after, prepare to be let down. The A1 is naturally agile, due to its compact size and low weight (1,165kg), yet the steering lacks feel and there’s no real reward for driving enthusiastically. If you want something sportier, go for the 1.4 TFSI petrol. But if you must have a diesel, there’s a 141bhp 2.0 TDI joining the line-up this summer. It’ll do 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds and return 68.9mpg.
The three trim grades (SE, Sport and S line) get gradually firmer suspension and larger wheels as standard. Unless you have your heart set on the S line styling upgrades, you should stick with SE or Sport models, which strike a better balance between comfort and body control. Besides, you can always order up to 18-inch alloys from the options list. 
To fit the extra doors, Audi has made the A1 6mm higher and 6mm wider. The result is an extra 11mm of headroom and 13mm of shoulder room in the back. Boot space stays the same at 270 litres, or 920 litres with the seats folded. Climbing into the rear seats is easier, but once there, it’s still cramped for six-footers.
If style is high on your list of priorities, as it will be for most Audi buyers, don’t worry – the transition from three to five-door has been executed to perfection. The rear window is marginally more upright and the B-pillar has been moved forward by 240mm, but at a glance you’d be hard-pushed to notice any difference.
Whether you go for SE, Sport or top-spec S line trim, the Sportback looks just as sharp as the three-door.

Most Popular

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'
Opinion cheap cars

'The death of cheap cars will be a travesty for personal mobility'

Our appetite for small, cheap cars is as strong as ever - although Mike Rutherford warns they may no longer be profitable
12 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021
What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven
Skoda vRS range

What is Skoda vRS? History and best cars driven

To mark 20 years of Skoda’s vRS badge, we rounded up some of the performance cars from the past two decades that have worn the subtle green badge
17 Sep 2021