The five-door Audi A1 Sportback shares much of its overall footprint and basic styling with the three-door Audi A1 model. There are some detailed differences, though – the Audi A1 Sportback features additional quarter glass on its C-pillars, and while the Audi A1 three-door can be customised with contrasting colours for its roof arches, the Audi A1 Sportback’s entire top and tailgate spoiler can be specified as such.
The newcomer is also 6mm taller and 6mm wider, the latter because of the rear door handles. Most importantly, the body proportions remain purposeful and the bodywork is well built.
The Sportback’s driving environment is similar that of the three-door A1. The dashboard remains clean and classy, while the designer inlays and panels around the air vents, centre console and doors continue to lift the cabin ambience. With compact exterior dimensions like the three-door A1, the Sportback is not especially roomy in the rear, but there’s sufficient space for a pair of average-sized adults to be comfortable on short journeys.
New to the A1 engine line-up is a 1.4 TFSI with “Cylinder on Demand” (COD). This fuel-saving technology, which first appeared in the S8’s bi-turbo V8, is claimed to save up to 0.4 litre of petrol every 100km in the A1. It works by deactivating two of the four cylinders on partial or low loads. Despite this economy “drive”, the 1.4-litre turbo unit churns out more juice than the entry-level A1’s 122bhp lump.
With 140bhp on tap, the COD motor’s stronger performance can immediately be felt on the Spanish roads. It feels punchier and happier at higher revs where the older, less powerful 4-pot can sound a tad out of breath. The switch between two-cylinder mode and four-cylinder mode, and vice versa, is hardly noticeable during normal driving.
Like the three-door, the top-notch A1 Sportback is the 1.4 TFSI 185. With the same turbo-supercharged powerplant as the Polo GTI, the sportiest A1 Sportback offers hot hatch-chasing acceleration, with the century sprint accomplished in 7 seconds flat. The car feels eager and responsive at all engine speeds, offering even more effortless get-up-and-go than the 140bhp model, and its agility is a delight.
The A1 Sportback has lost none of the three-door A1’s style, refinement and character, while gaining a higher level of practicality. It has, literally, opened new doors for small families who want a premium supermini with a sporty slant.
Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 (A)
ENGINE 1390cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 140hp at 4500-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1500-4000rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100km/h 8.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 212km/h
CONSUMPTION 21.3km/L (combined)
Check out the 2018 Audi A1 Sportback