ALL FOR ONE - Audi A1 Sportback
Independent Car Review - overall score 72/100
June Neary on Audi's shapely supermini
Will It Suit Me?
There are those cars that make you wonder who on earth the target customer is and then there's the Audi A1 Sportback. I know the typical customer for this car pretty well because it's me. Somebody who appreciates a smart looking car, isn't afraid to put their hand in their pocket for it but doesn't need something so big that it becomes unwieldy. I'm looking for something quietly stylish and I while I'm fully aware that underneath the pretty styling sits the underpinnings of a Volkswagen Polo, I'm prepared to play Audi's game and pay the premium.
This corner of the market has boomed in recent years with all manner of choices available to the customer who wants something a little more chic than the run of the mill hatch. The MINI has proved the cornerstone of this market, but Alfa Romeo's MiTo, BMW's 1 Series and even Lexus's hybrid CT200h all offer something for the motorist looking for the proven residuals of a premium badge in a compact package.
The nuts and bolts first. You can now buy the A1 only in a five door Sportback body style. In silhouette, the A1 looks a rather unadventurous shape, but Audi have given the car some lovely detailed touches that will have friends cooing over it in envy. Width and height remain much the same as part of a low-slung stance with short overhangs. The wide, low-placed Singleframe grille and the implied side air inlets dominate the distinctive front, above which are three flat bonnet slits which pay homage to the Sport quattro, the brand's rally icon from 1984. From the side, there's a wide, flat sloping C-pillar that seems to push the car forward even while standing still. The roof contrast line, which is available in two dark colours, ends above the C-pillar. There are smarter 3D-style rear lights too.
And inside? Well there's a more spacious cabin with classier design highlighted by a fully digital instrument cluster with a high-resolution 10.25-inch display and a multifunction steering wheel. The TFT instrument display screen that we're now familiar from other Audi models is now standard for A1 buyers and in its optional 'Virtual Cockpit' guise, offers an extended range of functions such as animated navigation maps and graphics of some driver assistance systems in the driver's direct field of vision. Adults in the rear seats still enjoy reasonable head and leg room by supermini standards. The boot is reasonable too and its 335-litre capacity is easily enough for a weekend away while the rear seats fold down to offer 1,090- litres if I need to take 'im indoors a bit further afield.
Behind the Wheel
Settle in behind the steering wheel and you'll find a beautifully finished dashboard, with lovely knurled metal minor controls that only Audi can really carry off in this class of car. The view out is a little compromised by the thick door and rear three quarter pillars but the car is relatively compact and easy to place thanks to its accurate steering.
There are four petrol engines to choose from, all enhanced by turbocharging and direct injection. Things kick off with the '25 TFSI' derivative, which has a 1.0-litre three cylinder unit offering 95PS. Next up is the '30 TFSI' variant, which uses a 116PS version of the same engine. Moving further on, there's the '35 TFSI' model offers a 150PS 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine which uses a cylinder on demand technology. And if you want more power, there's a '40 TFSI' 'S line Competition' derivative using a 2.0 TFSI engine with 200PS. Diesel power is notable by its absence. All engines can be linked to either a manual gearbox or the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, with the exception of the 200PS variant which uses a six-speed S tronic transmission as standard.
Value For Money
Pricing isn't much different to before, mainly siting in the £18,000 to £25,000 bracket for the single five-door body style now on offer. For our market, there are the usual 'SE', 'Sport' and 'S line' specification options. With 'S line' trim, you get a more dynamic look courtesy of larger air inlets, additional sill trims, plus an elongated slit centrally below the bonnet with two fins and a larger rear wing. Go for 2.0 TFSI 200PS engine and you have to have 'S line Competition' trim, in this guise striking twin tailpipes adding to the air of purpose.
Buyers get a choice of ten colours which, as an option, can be combined with a contrasting roof colour extending from the A-pillar to the roof edge spoiler. The exterior mirror housings, the side front spoiler lips and the side sills are also available in a contrasting colour.
Could I Live With One?
I could certainly live with the Audi A1 Sportback. In fact I'm not sure if I've driven a car in the past year that's more me than this sassy supermini. There are moments - just moments, mind - when I wonder if I've been gulled by the shiny bits and Audi's slick marketing machine but one glimpse of the A1 in a shop window as I drive by convinces me otherwise. What's the purpose of life if you can't treat yourself once in a while?
We currently have 19 used Audi A1 Cars
Audi A1 1.6 TDI S Line 3drWF66 CSO • 20k miles • Manual • £1,184 Fitted Extras
£11,500 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.6 TDI Sport 5drEJ12 UFU • 33.7k miles • Manual • £510 Fitted Extras
£7,298 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.0 TFSI Sport 5drDGZ8 647 • 22k miles • Manual • £2,899 Fitted Extras
£11,819 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.6 TDI Sport 3drYF14 OWP • 74.6k miles • Manual • £1,190 Fitted Extras
£6,200 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI S Line 5drSL62 XKW • 59.7k miles • Manual • £1,360 Fitted Extras
£8,202 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.4 TFSI Sport 5dr S TronicRO16 VOH • 39.6k miles • Automatic • £2,699 Fitted Extras
£11,998 +£199 Variable Admin Fee
Audi A1 1.6 TDI Sport 5drBV16 EPZ • 40.1k miles • Manual • £289 Fitted Extras
£9,800 +£199 Variable Admin Fee