Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) Review
Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) At A Glance
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.