Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018) Review logo

Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018) Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2012
      Body type
      Small hatch
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Classy A1 with five doors”

Best bits

  •  Light and compact to drive in and around town with excellent visibility for the driver
  •  Rear doors make the Sportback the practical A1 choice
  •  Efficient, perky engines that are cheap to fuel and run

Not so great

  • Rear headroom is limited for adults
  • Prices are higher for A1 than equivalents from the opposition
  • Ride is too crashy and firm in S Line models

Read by

Audi A1 Sportback Exterior Front

Overall verdict

Audi A1 Sportback Interior Front

On the inside

Audi A1 Sportback Driving Front

Driving

Audi A1 Sportback Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi A1 Sportback Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict on the Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018)

"To broaden the A1's appeal and to take on the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo head-on, Audi added the five-door Sportback version in late 2011. The extra pair of doors greatly improved the A1’s practicality 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."

Audi A1 Sportback Exterior Front

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 A1 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. During its life, the A1 gained Black, Contrast and Style Edition versions.


The most common engines from the Sportback’s launch 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. Each could be had with a manual gearbox or you could opt for the seven-speed S tronic with the larger petrol motor.


Audi also offered 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 super- and turbocharged 185PS 1.4 as the quickest model that could cover 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds flat.


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 2011, 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.


However, you will find the A1 offers more cabin and boot space than a MINI, making it a very strong contender in the small hatch stakes.


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Audi A1 (2018-) review.


Is the Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018) right for you?

The A1 Sportback encapsulates all that’s best about Audi in a compact, well equipped and good looking five-door small hatch. Every surface that you come into contact with has a solidly hewn appearance and feel, making the A1 seem very substantial even though it’s actually quite a light car by class standards thanks to using aluminium for some of its exterior panels.


This lightness makes the A1 easy to drive through town and there’s the option of the seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox with some engines. Those engines deliver decent pep in all but the base 1.2 petrol version, which is best limited to urban use.


Practicality is augmented in the Sportback thanks to its five-doors that make life easier for loading kids into the back than with the three-door version. Taller adults will find it a little restricted back here, but the A1 makes up for this with a large boot for a small hatch and split/fold rear seat. If you don't need five doors, the three-door Audi A1 is more common.


What’s the best Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018) to choose?

The decision to choose the Sportback over the Audi A1 three-door will likely come down to you needing the extra versatility of the extra doors. It’s no hardship being practical as the Sportback is just as able as the hatch in every conceivable way.


While the S Line trim holds much appeal with its half-leather upholstery and larger alloy wheels to give it the edge in the style stakes, we’d opt for the Sport trim. Despite its name, it has slightly softer-set suspension than the S Line while still being more athletic through corners than the SE.


If you can afford to look for a later version of the A1, the 1.0 TFSI turbo petrol is the pick of the bunch. It may not have the outright power of the 1.4 petrol, but it’s keen as mustard when you want to get a move on yet delivers impressive economy and wallet-pleasing emissions.


What other cars are similar to the Audi A1 Sportback (2012-2018)?

The MINI five-door hatch is the clear rival to the Audi A1 Sportback. While the MINI undoubtedly has an advantage on handling and many are fans of its style, the A1 is the more rounded overall package.


Others to consider are the Alfa Romeo MiTo and DS3 if you want to go down a more sporting route, though neither is as well finished as the Audi and they only come with three doors. Don’t discount the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo as both are superb to drive and offer a huge selection of trim and engine choices.


Learn more

Audi A1 Sportback Interior Front

On the inside

Audi A1 Sportback Driving Front

Driving

Audi A1 Sportback Driving Back

How much does it cost to run

Audi A1 Sportback Exterior Side

Prices, versions and specification