Review: Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018)
Longer, five door A1 is more practical than three door. Same efficient engines as the three-door. Desirable image. 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.
Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018): At A Glance
The Audi A1 Sportback is a natural progression from the A1 that proved to be a real success for Audi, creating as much interest as the likes of the R8. No bigger than a Fiesta the A1 proved very desirable for people wanting a small car that still has a premium feel. Initially available as a three-door with limited practicality, Audi took it the obvious step further of introducing a five-door - badged as the Sportback.
It cost around £560 more than the standard A1 and it's slightly bigger with more head and shoulder room inside. The addition of rear doors means it's now a more realistic option if you have younger children as getting to the back seats is much easier. The other big difference is that it gets three seats in the back, each with a headrest and a full three-point seatbelt.
Elsewhere it's business as usual for the A1. It's just as enjoyable to drive and easy to manouevre in small spaces plus it comes with the same choice of impressive engines.
The 1.6 TDI is best for economy but it's the 1.4 TFSI that provides the most impressive performance thanks to its eager nature and zippy performance. For low running costs don't discount the 1.0 TFSI which is economical but has plenty of get up and go.
On the outside, the A1 Sportback stands out from the A1 thanks to the option of contrasting roof colours rather than just the roof bars, similar to a MINI. The Sportback also expands on the eleven colours available for the three door with a new colour – Samoa Orange – that will be exclusive to the new five-door.
Standard equipment on all models includes alloy wheels, remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front and rear windows and mirrors, split folding rear seat and a six-speaker single CD Concert audio system linked to a 6.5-inch retractable display.
What does a Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) cost?
Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
The A1 may be the smallest car Audi makes but this doesn't mean it's a poor relation to the rest of the range. The quality of the materials used and finish of the interior feel just as good as larger Audi models with a precise feel to all the switches and controls.
It is a little on the dark side but the circular air vents are a nice design feature and can be specified in different colours such as gloss white, titanium grey, garnet red, velvet beige or wasabi green.
The steering wheel, that all important main point of contact, also impresses and its small size adds to the sporty feel. All models come with a colour display which can be flipped down to create a smooth dash top. A neat feature. The infotainment system is easy to use and controlled via a dial like Audi's MMI (multi media interface) system seen on larger Audi cars plus it includes an aux-in and an SD card slot as standard.
At less than four metres long you might expect the A1 Sportback to be tight for space inside but it's anything but. In the front there's a surprising amount of room and even if you're over six-foot tall you won't feel hemed in at all with plenty of legroom. But of course the A1 Sportback is all about the rear seats.
The doors open wide which means getting to them is easy, essential if you're fitting child seats. And if you want to carry teenagers or adults there's pretty good space here too. Knee room is good and while the roof slopes down, head room is more than adequate.
There are now three seats in the back (the standard A1 makes do with two) but it's a squeeze with three in the back. However, each seat does get a headrest and a full three-point seatbelt.
There are various differences in the materials used in the SE and Sport specification levels. SE models get black or titanium grey cloth upholstery, with the centre console, armrests, door pockets and speaker grilles in the same colour. In Sport versions, the upholstery is either all black or two-tone, with titanium grey, garnet red (new for the A1 Sportback) and wasabi green contrasting with black.
The A1 Sportback boot can carry a maximum of 270 litres - slightly less than Fiesta but far more than a MINI which only has 160 litres. The sidewalls are usefully flat and the step to the loading lip is low, so it's easy to get heavy bags in and out.
If you need to carry something bigger you can fold the rear seat backs down in just one step. Cleverly the headrests are L-shaped so they don't need to be removed beforehand. With the seats down the A1 Sportback can carry a surprisingly large amount.
Standard equipment from launch (March 2012):
SE models come with manual air conditioning, a split folding rear seat, remote central locking, electrically adjustable door mirrors, electric front and rear windows, a Concert Radio linked to a retractable 6.5-inch colour display screen, two front airbags, two side airbags and two head airbags. There are also integral Audi headrest system and Isofix anchor points for child safety seats in the rear.
Sport trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, high-gloss exhaust tailpipes, front fog lights, firmer sports suspension, front sport seats with lumbar supports, leather trim on the gear lever, steering wheel and the handbrake, aluminium-look trim is on certain controls while the air vents are finished in high-gloss black. The Driver’s Information System (DIS) is also added, and includes the on-board computer with efficiency program and a gear-change indicator (with manual transmission).
S line models get 17-inch alloy wheels and S line Sports suspension along with interior and exterior S line styling enhancements including a roof spoiler, combination cloth and leather upholstery, a three-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel and the LED interior light package.
Child seats that fit a Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018) like to drive?
The A1 Sportback may be a small car but it doesn't feel like one from behind the wheel. As well as having plenty of space inside it's refined on the move and more than happy on the motorway at speed with minimal wind noise. It handles well too thanks to taut suspension, excellent body control and those short overhangs.
As a result it's enjoyable and easy to drive but the steering feels a little on the artificial side. The A1 Sportback uses an electrohydraulic power steering system which is light at lower speeds and gets heavier the quicker you go. It's precise and responsive but if you get onto a more demanding corner-heavy road you'll notice the lack of feel.
There's plenty of grip from the front tyres though and the A1 Sportback also comes with an electronic limited slip differential. This clever bit of kit makes cornering more precise by slightly braking the inside wheel in a bend while extra power is sent to the outside wheel. The result is that you need less steering lock through a corner and it feels very stable even in the tightest of turns.
The ride is pretty firm too on Sport and S line models. These get a stiffer sports suspension set-up which adds to the sporty feel of the dimunitive A1 but can become tiring on bumpy roads.
The SE models come with a standard set-up which confusingly is called 'dynamic' suspension but is basically a lot more comfortable. Sport models can be specified with it as a no cost option.
The engine range in the A1 originally included a 1.2 TFSI. With 86PS and 160Nm of torque it has more than enough for the lightweight A1 Sportback which only weighs around one tonne. It's good around town and surprisingly nippy thanks to the turbo plus it's very economical averaging 55.4mpg.
This was replaced in early 2015 by the newer 1.0 TFSI. It may be smaller - and a three-cylinder rather than four-cylinder engine but it's actually better all round. Power is up to 95PS while economy is also better at more than 67mpg with the manual gearbox.
However, the 1.4 TFSI is the engine to go for of you want a bit more in the way of performance. It suits the A1 Sportback perfectly with a sporty feel, a nice exhaust note and good in-gear pulling power.
The standard gearbox is a positive shifting six-speed manual but it's also available with an optional seven-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic that works really well with rapid changes and steering wheel mounted paddle shifts.
The performance model is the 1.4 TFSI which is fitted with a supercharger and a turbocharger to boost power to 185PS - a mighty figure for such a small engine. It can struggle to put its power down through the front wheels, especially in the wet, which makes for an often frantic driving experience. But it's still great fun to drive and genuinely rapid with a 0-62mph time of just 7.0 seconds. Yet it still has a claimed average economy figure of 47.9mpg.
But if you want economy the TDI diesels are the models to go for. There's a 1.6 TDI which is smooth and reasonably quiet, pulling well in gear thanks to 250Nm of torque. It's ideal as a motorway car as you barely ever have to change out of fifth gear yet still provides decent power at higher revs.
A performance 2.0 TDI with 143PS was launched in the summer of 2012. This is very quick in the light A1 Sportback, managing 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds and with a claimed 68.9mpg.
|1.0 TFSI||64–67 mpg||11.1 s||97–102 g/km|
|1.0 TFSI S tronic||61–64 mpg||11.1 s||102–107 g/km|
|1.2 TFSI||55 mpg||11.9 s||118 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI||52–55 mpg||8.9–9.0 s||118–126 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 125||54–55 mpg||8.9 s||117–123 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 125 S tronic||57–58 mpg||8.9 s||112–113 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 140 CoD||58–60 mpg||8.0 s||109–113 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 140 CoD S tronic||58–60 mpg||8.0 s||109–113 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 150||59 mpg||7.9 s||112 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 150 CoD||57–59 mpg||7.9 s||112–117 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 150 CoD S tronic||57–59 mpg||7.9 s||111–116 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic||59 mpg||7.9 s||111 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI 185 S tronic||48 mpg||7.0 s||139 g/km|
|1.4 TFSI S tronic||48–58 mpg||7.0–9.0 s||112–139 g/km|
|1.6 TDI||74 mpg||10.7 s||99 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 105||74 mpg||10.7 s||99 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 116||71–81 mpg||9.5 s||92–104 g/km|
|1.6 TDI 116 S tronic||71–76 mpg||9.4 s||97–106 g/km|
|2.0 TDI||69 mpg||8.3 s||108 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Audi A1 Sportback (2012 – 2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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