Does a five-door Audi A1 really cut the mustard? The Wheel Deal hits the busy Jozi streets to find out
What is it?
The Audi A1 hipsters know and love now with an extra two doors. Residing slightly higher up the practicality scale than its little three-door brother, this new Sportback model has more rear headroom (an increase of 11 millimetres) thanks to a slightly longer and less tapering roof.
That said you’ve still got to be pretty small of stature to ever be truly comfortable when relegated to the aft quarters. It will be fine for small children but for anyone nearing six-foot it is a sure-fire way of inciting deep vein thrombosis.
Like the three-door, the Sportback is currently available with a choice of four engines: three petrol (TFSI) and one ultra economical diesel (TDI) units. No matter which one tickles your fancy (or budget), know that all benefit from direct fuel injection and turbocharging.
How does it look?
Um, let me think, like an Audi A1 with an extra two doors. Luckily the new Sportback treatment has done nothing to spoil the great lines of the three-door original, as is so often the case with trendy boutique hatchbacks. I feared the worst but in five-door form, Ingolstadt’s MINI rival remains as hip and as happening as it has ever been.
Base models are expectantly bland but spend a little (or a lot – the choice is yours) money and you can sex-up your Sportback to lustworthy heights. Massive black-spoked alloy wheels; the choice of a contrasting roof colour; an aggressive S-line body kit – these are some of the visual-oomph extras available to up your street cred.
What’s it like to drive?
I’d have to say like an Audi A1 with an extra two doors. What does this mean? Well think along the lines of a sharper, more focussed Volkswagen Polo (the new one, not the Vivo) and you’re pretty much there. Agile, planted and fun to drive the FWD Sportback is probably one of the more enjoyable Audi products I’ve driven in a long time. It is still not as sharp as a MINI Cooper but there is enough Vorsprung Durch Technik present to please keener drivers.
On launch I got to drive cars fitted with both the 90 and 136-kilowatt version of the 1.4 TFSI engine. And yes, before you ask, both provided more than enough poke for snappy getaways as well as prolonged, high-speed burns down the motorway. Proof, once again, that downscaling need not suck.
Cog-swapping duties are, depending on which model you pick, handled either by a five-speed manual or the über-slick seven-speed, dual-clutch S-Tronic automatic.
Any special features?
Did we mention those extra doors? No, on a serious note the new Audi A1 Sportback can be accessorised with a lengthy list of optional extras. From colour-coded interior air vent sleeves and an MMI Navigation System right through to a panoramic glass sunroof, there are literally a 100 ways to make your car stand out from the in-crowd. But be warned, this individualism comes at a price – get carried away and you’ll soon be playing in the same financial territory as the bigger, more comfortable A3 Sportback.
Should you buy one?
Although the new Audi A1 Sportback is a cracking little city car, I really cannot see the reason why it exists. I totally get the fashionista appeal of the funky three-door model but here in five-door form, well, it just seems rather pointless – especially when you consider that the aforementioned A3 Sportback can be had for not much more capital outlay. Diehard A1 fans might see sense in the Sportback, granted, but to me it’s nothing more than a trendy white elephant. A door – no, make that two – too far.
The Facts: Audi A1 Sportback
Engine: 1197cc (1.2 TFSI), 1390cc (90kW & 136kW 1.4 TFSI) four-cylinder turbo; 1598cc (1.6 TDI) four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power: 63kW at 4800rpm (1.2 TFSI), 90kW at 5000rpm (1.4 TFSI), 136kw at 6200rpm (1.4 TFSI); 77kW at 4400rpm (1.6 TDI)
Torque: 160Nm at 1500rpm (1.2 TFSI), 200Nm at 1500rpm (1.4 TFSI), 250Nm at 2000rpm (1.4 TFSI); 250Nm at 1500rpm (1.6 TDI)
0-100km/h: 11.9-seconds (1.2 TFSI), 9-seconds (1.4 TFSI), 7-seconds (1.4 TFSI); 10.7-seconds (1.6 TDI)
Top speed: 180km/h (1.2 TFSI), 203km/h (1.4 TFSI), 227km/h (1.4 TFSI); 190km/h (1.6 TDI)
Fuel Consumption: 5.1l/100km (1.2 TFSI), 5.4l/100km (1.4 TFSI), 5.9l/100km (1.4 TFSI); 3.8l/100km (1.6 TDI)
CO2: 118g/km (1.2 TFSI), 126g/km (1.4 TFSI), 139g/km (1.4 TFSI); 99g/km (1.6 TDI)
Price: From R227 400 (1.2 TFSI), R242 500 (1.4 TFSI), R319 500 (1.4 TFSI); R254 500 (1.6 TDI)
Still a looker in five-door form
Fun to drive
High build quality
Long and expensive extras list
Still rather cramped in the rear
An A3 Sportback doesn’t cost that much more
Bleh… it looks like the old Audi a1 crossed with an Opel Kadett to produce a mongrel that’s trying to look like a trendy Mini Cooper.
Disappointing from Audi given their stunning designs over the last couple of years.