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Week at the wheel: Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 TDI Sport. Image by Audi.

Week at the wheel: Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 TDI Sport
Audi adds a pair of doors to its A1 and creates the Sportback - we find out if it's easier to live with.

   



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| Week at the Wheel | Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 TDI Sport |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Audi adds a pair of doors to its A1 premium supermini and asks customers for an extra 560 for the privilege. Still, with a frugal and efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine and enticing Sport specification this particular A1 might just be worth the premium.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 TDI Sport
Pricing: 16,880 (22,360 as tested)
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Rivals: Alfa Romeo MiTo, Citroen DS3, MINI Cooper
CO2 emissions: 99g/km
Combined economy: 74.3mpg
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
Power: 105hp at 4,400rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500rpm

Inside & Out: 4 4 4 4 4

This car is totally and utterly colour and spec sensitive. Order your Audi A1 in a plain colour with small wheels and a non-contrasting set of roof cant rails and it'll look like a dumpy A3. However, go for a bright hue, decent alloys and the grey roof option and the A1 stands right out, even in practical five-door Sportback form.

A supermini or super-luxury limo? The interior of the A1 really is that good; only the recently released A3 can eclipse it for quality and cleanliness of design. We particularly like the manually folding central information screen, which moves with an assured solidity and offers buyers a real tactile sense of this car's quality. And though the Sportback has no more room than the regular three-door A1 the extra openings do at least improve access.

Ride & Handling: 3 3 3 3 3

Sport means sport suspension, which by all accounts should mean this A1 rides really badly. But you know what; it's not all that bad. Sure it's harsher than some of its rivals (the Citroen DS3, not the MINI Cooper) but thanks to the refinement of the rest of the package it's actually acceptable - especially at motorway speeds.

The pay off of course is the neat - if never dramatic or exciting - handling. Petrol models are a little more agile, but in reality the diesel A1 is far from uninspiring on your favourite road. And despite the front-wheel drive chassis, from a firm famed for its four-wheel drive models, there's plenty of grip and you have to try really hard to unsettle it.

Steering feel could be better, the helm displaying a consistent weighting but little in the way of feedback. Still, the overall impression of this A1 is one that is wonderfully complete - and a car we'd happily recommend to others.

Engine & Transmission: 4 4 4 4 4

In truth the petrol engines probably make more sense with the Audi A1, especially the 1.4 TFSI unit with cylinder on demand, but if you must have a diesel then the little 1.6-litre unit is the one to have. Sure it can grumble with the best of them at low revs, but it provides decent performance along with good economy.

The five-speed gearbox is nothing to write home about, but it's perfectly normal with a light and easy shift and well spaced ratios. The long top gear is especially welcome, making motorway cruising refined and efficient.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Standard equipment is not the A1's forte. Our test example had nearly 5,500 of extras, sending its price soaring above 22,000. Whatever way you look at it, that's a lot of money for a five-door premium supermini. Still, when you look at the quality - be in no doubt the A1 has a more premium feel than a MINI - you can almost see where the cost has gone.

If you can stomach the purchase price then good news, as the rest of the package is actually quite impressive. With the 1.6-litre TDI engine and standard stop-start the A1 Sportback returns 74.3mpg and crucially emits less than 100g/km. That means free road tax and, if you live in London like a lot of A1 owning trendies do, then an exemption from the capital's congestion charge as well. And being an Audi, you're virtually guaranteed impressive residuals too.

If you are trying to find cheap car insurance for this vehicle have a look at www.endsleigh.co.uk.

Graeme Lambert - 24 Jun 2012



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2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.



2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A1 Sportback. Image by Audi.
 






 

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