Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) Review

Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Audi’s A1 Sportback rival for the MINI, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo may have been a while in arriving after the launch of the three-door A1, but it was worth the wait for its greater practicality.

+Same efficient engines as the three-door, desirable image and enjoyable to drive, at its best with 1.4 TFSI engine.

-Top models are fairly pricey especially when you start adding optional extras, firm ride on Sport and S Line suspension.

Insurance Groups are between 9–29
On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure

If you're looking for the newer model, you'll need our Audi A1 Sportback review.

Audi expanded its A1 line-up in 2012 when it added the Sportback model to take on the MINI, as well as more mainstream and practical rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo. The Sportback condensed everything Audi customers loved into a smaller package but now with a big pinch of improved versatility thanks to the extra pair of doors for rear seat passengers. Its premium image meant A1 Sportback prices were steeper than an equivalent Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but the Audi justified this with a cabin that feels a very definite step up in quality.

The extra pair of doors significantly improved the A1’s versatility as it was now a whole load easier for rear seat occupants to get in and out. For a car that is often used to carry kids, this is a big bonus and it also made it simpler when fitting or removing a child seat. Another plus point was the Sportback rear bench offered seating for three rather than the two people the three-door model could accommodate.

The same high class approach as the three-door was applied to the Sportback’s equipment levels, which were generous even in the entry-point SE model.

It has alloy wheels, air conditioning, a stereo with MP3 connectivity and plenty of safety equipment. There is also a natty 6.5-inch infotainment screen that set the A1 apart from its competition at launch.

Sport and S Line models rounded out the model range at launch. The Sport added, firmer suspension, a Bluetooth connection and Driver’s Information System, while the S Line gained larger alloy wheels, even stiffer suspension and half-leather upholstery. Later in its life, the A1 Sportback gained a Style Edition option.

The most common engines are the 1.2- and 1.4-litre TFSI turbo petrols offered from launch. Both come with claimed fuel economy in the mid-50s and carbon dioxide emissions low enough to make road tax a non-issue. Both could be had with a manual gearbox or you could opt for the seven-speed S tronic with the larger petrol motor.

Audi added the 1.4-litre engine with cylinder-on-demand technology in 140 and later 150PS forms. These engines only provided fuel to half of the cylinders in light driving conditions to save fuel. Or, you could choose the twincharger 185PS 1.4 with a super- and turbocharger to give 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds.

A 1.0-litre TFSI engine was added in early 2015 with 95PS and this smaller engine feels very peppy and delivers 99g/km Co2 emissions and around 60mpg.

On the diesel front, the A1 started with a 105PS 1.6-litre unit with claimed figures of 70.6mpg combined economy and 105g/km CO2. A 143PS 2.0-litre turbodiesel became part of the line-up in 2012, while in late 2014 an improved 1.6 diesel was credited with 80.7mpg and 92g/km CO2 output.

All A1s are nimble to drive in town and are stable on the motorway. However, beware of the S Line’s harsher suspension as it brings an unwelcome crashiness to the A1’s ride without making it handle any better.

Ask Honest John

My daughter's Audi A1 has damp in the driver's footwell but the door seals seem fine, what could be the cause?

"My daughters Audi seems to be getting damp in the drivers foot well door seals seem fine, are there any known issues regarding this fault?"
If you have checked the seals around the front doors and windows and they appear to be in good condition, other areas you check are the sunroof drains (if fitted), the drainage channels around the front scuttle above the windscreen wiper motor and around the battery tray. If this does not locate the cause it may be a blocked air conditioning drain hose that is causing the leak as this runs behind the dashboard near the footwells.
Answered by David Ross

Can Audi A1 DSG gearboxes suffer hydraulic explosion?

"My friend has a 2014 Audi A1 Sportback s 1.4 auto has covered 40,000. Has been serviced as per service schedule but not at an Audi dealer. Recently she lost all drive, engine fine but when selecting a gear nothing would happen except a light flashing on the dashboard. Her mechanic has said it has suffered a 'Hydraulic explosion' in the gear box and has said they are prone to it, common fault. I've never heard of a 'hydraulic explosion' before and don't seem to be able to find much about it on google. Have you heard of this, is this a common fault and is this something that should of had a recall to resolve?"
The term 'hydraulic explosion' is not one usually used to describe the faults in DSG gearboxes, but based on this it is likely that the gearbox in your friend's Audi has suffered a high pressure leak within the mechatronic unit which has caused the loss of drive. Unfortunately it is a known fault, and Volkswagen have since upgraded the relevant parts to avoid this happening in the future, but have not issued a recall for affected vehicles. There are a number of specialists that deal with these known DSG gearbox faults and can offer repairs that are generally cheaper than main dealer prices. You can find a suitable specialist near you using the Honest John Good Garage Guide here:
Answered by David Ross

Why does my DAB radio fail when my phone charger is plugged into the cigarette lighter?

"My 2016 basic model Audi A1 has no sensible space for my mobile phone which I use for sat nav. Where would you recommend is the safest position? Also, why when my phone charger is plugged into the cigarette lighter does my DAB radio fail? Thanks so much."
I know the air vents in that model are round so you may have to look specifically with that in mind, but I'd look at getting a magnetic phone holder that clips onto the air vent. As for the charger, the cable is potentially interfering with the DAB signal. You might need a better charger with proper suppression. I'd buy a higher quality charger and see how you get on.
Answered by Georgia Petrie

What is the best electric car to replace my Audi A1?

"Which electric car would advise to replace our Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 petrol? We do lots of short journeys and cover 5000 miles a year. "
We'd recommend a Peugeot e-208. It's a great little electric car with stylish looks and a premium cabin. Also look at the Renault Zoe or, if you'd prefer something a bit bigger, the Volkswagen ID.3.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) cost?