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

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

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
What's the best used, small hatchback for low mileage use?
"We are both recently retired and found that having just one car (the brilliant Volvo XC40 T3) is proving inconvenient, so we want a small used car for running around and short trips. Current thoughts are Audi A1, Fiat 500 or MINI. Prices seem fairly equal for recent models and running costs about even, but it's difficult to find information on reliability. It will probably only be doing 5000 miles per year. From those above, what would be the least likely to cause problems and prove not overly expensive? What other makes/models would you suggest in 3 to 4-year-old cars? Thanks in anticipation."
Our Satisfaction Index is a good indicator of reliability: As a guideline, Audi owners are generally fairly satisfied. MINI and Fiat actually perform pretty poorly. We also list common issues under the 'good/bad' section in our reviews. Have you considered an electric vehicle? If you can charge a car at home, it sounds like one would suit your requirements well. Something like a Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq or Kia Soul EV could be a good option. A little more expensive to buy but you'll save money in running costs. If you'd prefer to stick to petrol, consider a Ford Fiesta Vignale. It's essentially a posh Fiesta with a luxurious interior but low running costs.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Should I buy my financed car and sell it on considering used car values are increasing?
"I have an Audi A1 which comes to the end of it's PCP agreement on 27 May. We don't want to upgrade and we were going to hand it back. It's in good condition with 24,000 miles on the clock. The settlement figure is £9011. Having done a little research, equivalent cars are selling for about £12,000. So now I'm unsure whether to pay the settlement figure and sell for £12,000. Would I get that? I'd probably get another PCP on my next car. Any advice? Also, any idea when showrooms may open again? I've been told if its a handback then not to drive it until it can be picked up."
I wouldn't recommend doing this. No one knows exactly how the used car market will fluctuate in the coming months and you may end up losing money in the long run or being stuck with a car you don't want. Car showrooms will start opening in the next few weeks, but there will probably be a delay on new stock due to the fact car plants have been closed for several weeks.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

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