Car group tests

Audi A1 Sportback vs rivals

Premium small cars are massive sellers, and Audi aims to boost its share with the new five-door A1 Sportback. Can it beat key rivals?

Audi A1 Sportback vs rivals

Audi's move into the premium supermini class has proven lucrative, with more than 20,000 A1s finding homes since the car’s showroom debut in 2010. So it was only a matter of time before the more practical five-door Sportback arrived.

The newcomer follows a simple formula, with the same wheelbase as the three-door, but the extra pair of doors will open it up to a whole new market. If you want a posh supermini with extra functionality, the MINI Clubman has been the default choice for years, although its unusual Clubdoor design still demands a few compromises.

Chrysler has set its sights on this class, too, so how does the Ypsilon stack up against such a talented pair of rivals?

The A1 Sportback comes with a trio of TSI petrol engines. But we test the 1.6 TDI diesel Sport against the Cooper D Clubman and Ypsilon 1.3 Multijet Limited. If you want a premium small car, you can’t afford to miss this...

Verdict

Audi expects the new Sportback to account for 66 per cent of A1 sales, and it’s easy to see why. The five-door model doesn’t offer any more interior space than the three-door, but the improved access is sure to make it appealing to many buyers – and it’s only £560 more.

So the A1 Sportback wins this test, but it’s pushed all the way to the finish line by the MINI Clubman. The British car offers more passenger space than the A1; we just don’t think its unique single rear-door concept is a substitute for a proper five-door layout. That’s a shame because the Cooper D is faster, more fun to drive and more refined than the A1 1.6 TDI.

So where does that leave the Chrysler? It was always going to be the odd one out here, and emerges as a stylised city car rather than a genuine premium supermini. It finishes third, but its 1.3-litre Multijet diesel is a gem.

Winner
Audi A1 Sportback
★★★★

Small car buyers who are looking for style and practicality have a new champion. The A1 isn’t at its best in 1.6 TDI trim, but the extra doors make it much more user-friendly. Class-leading resale values add to the appeal. SE trim is the sweet spot in the range.

2nd
MINI Clubman
★★★★

Agile handling and a spacious, retro-styled interior count in the Clubman’s favour. If you want driving thrills and only carry the occasional passenger, it’s worth a look. The MINI doesn’t offer true five-door practicality, however, plus it’s more thirsty and expensive to buy than the A1.

3rd
Chrysler Ypsilon
★★

The Ypsilon is the cheapest car here, and makes a real style statement. But it’s let down by its mediocre cabin, uncomfortable ride and poor handling. Although the range-topper comes well equipped, stability control is still a £325 option.

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