Audi A1 Sportback Review and First Drive

by under Reviewluxury on 04 Jun 2015 08:23:09 PM04 Jun 2015
FROM $26,900
Fuel Consumption
FROM 5.6L/100km

Terrific new engines, a styling masterpiece; best-in-class value


Ride on the 18s can be firm

Undoubtedly one of the most stylish compacts around, Audi has now introduced the updated 2015 models of the A1 Sportback. With new engines, better looks and extra specifications from a revised model range, for those seeking German precision and excellence, the Audi A1 Sportback commands attention – especially with very sharp prices starting from $26,900.

2015 AUDI A1

Audi reckons the updated model range will boost A1 Sportback sales to around 160 per month. More than two-thirds of A1 Sportback buyers have been females - Audi says many are new to the brand and they’re attracted by stylish design and technology.

Interestingly those attributes have frequently been the justification to buy the Audi A1 Sportback over larger cars like the Volkswagen Golf and BMW 1 Series. And talking of design – when you bundle the various paint colours for the body and roof as well as interior hues and optional alloy wheels, Audi reckons there are around 1.0-million combinations for the A1 Sportback…talk about ‘individual’!


Audi A1 Sportback Overview

The Audi A1 Sportback is the compact hatchback entry-level model to the prestigious German brand - Audi calls it “luxury in a concentrate”. But - imbued with the hallmark Audi design excellence (now even sportier with the updated model) – the A1 Sportback stands-out from some rivals which are by comparison a tad plain.

As well as the freshened looks and extra specifications, star billing for the Audi A1 Sportback update goes to two all-new new engines – the three-cylinder 1.0-litre TFSI and 1.8-litre TFSI. The 1.4-litre TFSI continues but slow sales (less than 1.0-per-cent) mean the 1.6-litre turbo-diesel has been dropped.

2015 AUDI A1

The ripping Audi S1 ($49,900) was launched in September last year already with the updated 2015 specifications.

So the new model range looks like this:

A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI manual  $26,900
A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI S tronic  $28,250
A1 Sportback Sport 1.4 TFSI manual  $27,750
A1 Sportback Sport 1.4 TFSI S tronic $30,100
A1 Sportback S line 1.8 TFSI S tronic  $39,900

You can boost your Audi S1 Sportback via three options packs:

Style Package ($1,990 for 1.0 TFSI and 1.4 TFSI) which adds Xenon plus headlights with LED DRLs and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Technik Package ($2,490 for 1.0 TFSI and 1.4 TFSI) which adds ‘MMi Navigation plus’ with 20 GB HDD storage and two SDHC readers.

S line Sports Package ($2,990 for 1.8 TFSI) adds 18-inch titanium look 5-arm rotor design alloy wheels, sports seats in cloth/leather, S line sports steering wheel with paddleshifters, black headlining, S line perforated leather gear lever and S line interior logos and trim.


Audi A1 Sportback Engine

Audi A1 Sportback’s all-new three-cylinder 1.0-litre TFSI engine is actually the German giant’s first three-cylinder petrol engine. With an alloy crankcase it weighs just 88kgs and while an odd number of cylinders normally introduce some NVH issues, thanks to clever engineering, Audi’s three-cylinder doesn’t need a balancer shaft.

The 1.0TFSI delivers 70kW/160Nm and, with the optional seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission, returns fuel consumption of just 4.4l/100kms.

2015 AUDI A1

Also new to the Audi A1 Sportback lineup is the 1.8-litre TFSI four-cylinder. This is exclusive to the sporty range-topping S line model and delivers 141kW/250Nm via a seven-speed S tronic transmission. Fuel consumption scores 5.6l/100kms.

The familiar 92kW/200Nm 1.4-litre TFSI engine continues and is impressively frugal with fuel consumption of 4/9l/100kms.


Audi A1 Sportback The Interior

They say many Audi A1 buyers are into design and one look inside this German compact hatchback would have them feeling good. Comparable interiors? We’re thinking the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

There’s the usual excellent Audi seats (sports seats in cloth/leather with the S line) paired with the usual excellent Audi steering wheels (perforated leather with the S line) – the latter with rake/reach adjustment for a top-notch driving position. And with plenty of seat adjustment even tall drivers will be comfortable.

2015 AUDI A12015 AUDI A12015 AUDI A1

Instruments too are the usual Audi high class affair – housed in a stylish binnacle – and to the left is the free-standing screen for satellite navigation and audio. An optional Bose sound system delivers 14 speakers.

Of course it is the aircraft-style round air-vents which have distinguished the interior look of the Audi A1 Sportback. Centre console also sees the ‘quadrant’ layout for switchgear – again a nicely designed execution.

As a compact hatchback, rear seat passengers get reasonable leg-room and the luggage area while not massive is enough for overnight bags and most sports gear (maybe not golf clubs or ice hockey sticks).


Audi A1 Sportback Exterior & Styling

While the Audi A1 Sportback shares its DNA with the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Rapid, even the harshest critics would concede the design work from Audi’s stylists has delivered a dynamic look which is a cut above most in this league. The sophisticated three-window profile and domed roof ramp-up the technical appearance.

For the 2015 update, Audi’s designers have pursued a sportier look highlighted at the front by a wider single-frame grille and wedge-shaped headlights. Air intakes are deeper to reinforce the racier dynamic.

2015 AUDI A1

We like the side character line which blends into the bonnet shut-line and, for 2015, the exterior mirrors have switched to a door-mounted design with enhanced aerodynamics.

Rear view sees a lower, wider diffuser with (depending on the engine) one or two tailpipes and there are new wedge-shaped tail-lights to match the new headlights.

A couple of the Audi A1 Sportbacks we drove at the national media launch were fitted with the S line 18-inch alloy wheels which added significantly to the overall sporty exterior look.


Audi A1 Sportback On The Road

Our drive route started from the massive Audi Centre Brisbane and ended at Casuarina Beach in NSW. Plenty of great roads there to exploit this excellent drivers’ car.

And on that combination of freeway and winding rural roads, the two Audi A1 Sportbacks we drove fitted with the new 1.8-litre TFSI engine were standouts. Both had the S line sport package which included the handsome 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with 225/35 R18 rubber.

2015 AUDI A12015 AUDI A1

Acceleration was brisk (zero to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds) and was accompanied by the excellent audio track of TFSI engines at work as well as lightening fast shifts from the dual-clutch seven-speeder. And in sports mode, swapping cogs manually via the paddleshifters things were certainly…well, sporty.

No Quattro all-wheel-drive here of course but Audi has the front-drive chassis nicely fettled. There was crispness on turn-in and mid-corner poise which is a hallmark of the German brands – not even a series of rapid-fire switchback corners could unglue the A1 Sportback – just response and balance just as serious steerers enjoy.

Our 1.4 TFSI test car was fitted with the Style Package which tosses-in 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/40 R 17 tyres. The smaller capacity engine was hardly a let-down for performance and the ride on the smaller wheels was noticeably more compliant – very impressive.


Audi A1 Sportback Issues

On broken roads, ride on the 18-inch alloys is certainly firm.


Audi A1 Sportback Verdict

The Audi A1 Sportback deserves to rank amongst the best of the ‘premium’ compact hatchbacks. And, by any measure, the 2015 update has certainly enhanced its appeal.

Design and technology enthusiasts will love the Audi A1 Sportback and in that context you shouldn’t underestimate the appeal of the brand with the four rings logo. Yep this is contemporary German design and engineering at its best.

2015 AUDI A1

This is a premium compact hatchback which will be right at home on the High Street and will reward sporty drivers when tackling a set of curves. Oh, and Audi has priced it very sharply too…great car, great price and everyone is happy – a definite Car Showroom Favourite.

Audi A1 Sportback The Competition

Our other favourite (and everyone else’s favourite) is of course the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. A fair whack of extra coin is needed (starting from $35,900) but the A-Class rewards with hallmark ‘Benz quality and a rewarding drive. Until you get up to the A 250 Sport ($51,000) we think the Audi A1 Sport might be ahead in the ‘sportiness’ ranking.

While it too is a larger car, the fact is buyers are cross-shopping the Audi A1 Sportback against the BMW 1 Series and on the styling front, BMW’s excellent entry-level car (naturally a tad more expensive starting at $36,900) is, in some eyes, a little plain compared to the Audi and ‘Benz A-Class. But you do get the driving dynamics for which BMW is renowned.

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