Audi A1 Sportback review

* Audi A1 5dr driven * Priced from 13,980 * On sale spring...

Audi A1 Sportback review
17 Jan 2012 08:00

The Audi A1 Sportback is a five-door version of the award-winning A1 supermini.

The A1 Sportback's engine line-up at launch broadly follows the three-door models; you can have 84bhp 1.2, 121bhp 1.4 and 182bhp 1.4 petrols or a 104bhp 1.6 diesel.

In the summer, Audi will add a 143bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a new 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol that features Cylinder on Demand technology. This lets the engine shut down two of its four cylinders when theyre not needed, such as when you're cruising, to reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions.

When fitted with this petrol engine, the A1 Sportback averages 60.1mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2 figures that are very similar to the 2.0-litre diesels

Whats it like inside? Back-seat passengers get slightly more head- and shoulder room than they do in the three-door A1, thanks to the Sportbacks extra height and re-designed rear seat. The wheelbase remains the same, so legroom and boot space are unchanged.

Smaller adults can sit comfortably in the back of the car, but six-footers are likely to find that their knees touch the seats in front.

The A1 Sportbacks tweaked packaging means it's now a five-seater, whereas the three-door seats four. The central rear seat is narrower than the outer two, however, and suitable only for short journeys.

Otherwise the Sportbacks interior is pure Audi A1. Firm, supportive seats, lots of adjustment and an orderly dashboard with big, clear instruments combine to create a great environment for the driver. Classy materials and slick switches add to the appeal.

Whats it like to drive? So far, weve tried the 1.6-litre diesel engine and the new 138bhp 1.4 petrol.

The diesel rattles a bit when you pull away and feels rather flat at low revs. However, its very efficient, with average economy of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

The petrol engine is more refined and very responsive, so its a better fit for the A1s sporty character.

The switchover from four to two cylinders when driving is pretty much unnoticeable. There's no obvious change in the engine's characteristics, whether you're travelling at town or motorway speeds. If Audi gets the pricing right, this engine could make the 2.0-litre diesel redundant.

In other respects, the A1 Sportback feels much like the three-door car, which is no bad thing. It combines tight body control with strong grip and quick, well-weighted steering. The ride is reasonably comfortable, too, and youre always well insulated from wind- and road noise.

Should I buy one? We think the three-door model shows off the A1's talents best if you really want five doors and plan to use them regularly, then you might well be looking for a car with a little more rear legroom.

That said, this is an impressive car. No other supermini is as classy as the A1, and if you do want a small car with five doors, the 560 premium that you pay over the three-door version isnt excessive.

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