Audi A1 Sportback: Buying guide

  • Considering buying an Audi A1 Sportback?
  • We take you through the best options
  • Save money by avoiding heavy depreciation

The Audi A1 has proven to be a very popular car because many have been tempted by its blend of stylish looks, excellent build quality and rewarding ownership experience.

For some, however, it just isn't practical enough. To remedy this issue, Audi has released a 'Sportback' version. It offers five doors, instead of the standard A1's three.

As with many Audis there's a comprehensive list of trim levels, extras and engines. It can all be a bit a bit baffling and the benefit of some options or equipment may not be obvious.

Selecting the best specification can be a difficult business. Pick the wrong combination and you could end up losing more money through depreciation, and make your car harder to sell when the time comes.

To make things a bit easier, Parkers has come up with a simple buying guide that will help you work out what you should really look for.

So, to help make your Audi A1 Sportback buying decisions a little easier, read on:

SE, S Line or Sport trim?
Buyers can pick from three trim levels. Somewhat surprisingly, the standard SE grade is relatively well equipped. It includes equipment like air-con, a CD player with an auxiliary connection, an SD card reader for music, front and rear electric windows, alloy wheels and stability control.

As a result, buyers on a tighter budget shouldn't be afraid to pick the SE specification and then customise it with a few choice options.

Some options, however, aren't available on the SE model. So, if you're looking to really customise your A1, you're better starting off with the Sport model. It comes with more equipment as standard, such as Bluetooth connectivity. It is fitted with sports suspension and larger alloys, so test drive it first to make sure you find it comfortable.

The Flagship S Line trim adds a range of upgrades, including the aforementioned sports suspension, different interior and exterior styling and an LED interior lighting package. For the most part, the changes are purely cosmetic, so it comes down to individual taste and how important the S Line look is to you.

Petrol or diesel?
As always, which engine you choose will be dictated by your mileage and usage.

If you're looking to cover more than 10,000 miles a year, and the majority of your driving is just motorway cruising, then picking the 1.6-litre diesel is probably a sensible choice.

Don't discount the petrol options automatically, however. Many of the Audi's petrol engines are capable of returning high average economy figures, driven appropriately.

With the cost of diesel rising, you might find any potential savings from diesel models either negligible or non-existent - particularly if you take into account the increased purchase price of the diesel versions.

Those who drive primarily around town, or do the odd motorway drive, will probably find the 1.2-litre TFSI engine the best option. It's economical, clean and not depressingly slow.

If you're a little more into your driving, and are more likely to go on longer trips or travel cross-country, pick the 1.4-litre TFSI. It's substantially more powerful than the 1.2-litre version and won't have to be worked so hard to maintain speed. Pleasingly, it's also not much less economical than its smaller counterpart.

The only downside is that choosing the 1.4-litre TFSI does entail buying a more expensive S Line or Sport model.

Lastly, there is the somewhat bonkers top-specification 182bhp 1.4-litre TFSI version. Only enthusiasts, or power addicts, really need apply. It's quick, but it's also thirsty and it can be a little bit too lively for its own good.

Manual or S Tronic?
This depends on which engine you choose. The 1.2-litre TFSI petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox.

The more powerful 120bhp 1.4-litre TFSI engine gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but you can specify a twin-clutch S Tronic gearbox. As well as offering a manual mode, this rapid-shifting gearbox can also operate like a conventional automatic. The 185bhp 1.4-litre TFSI comes with this gearbox as standard.

To specify an S Tronic gearbox commands a hefty premium, but if you need an automatic or want that more sporting and upmarket feel, it's not entirely unjustified. It's a very impressive gearbox.

Which options do I really need?
With even the entry-level model coming with a substantial amount of equipment, there's no great need to go to town on the options list.

There are, however, a few things you should look for. If your specified model doesn't have it as standard, add the multi-function steering wheel, Driver's Information System and DAB digital radio. These key features add a few neat touches to the cabin, and in the case of the DAB radio help future-proof the car.

Those who pick models with larger alloys should also specify the tyre pressure warning system. It can be hard to tell when you've got a flat, when your car has lower-profile tyres.

Sat-nav is an expensive option on all models. Unless you buy it as part of a pack or deal, you'd be better off spending a few hundred quid on generic portable sat-nav unit.

What about these packages?
Audi offers a variety of packs that add combinations of equipment to the A1 Sportback. There are only two you should really consider - the Comfort package and the Technology package.

The comfort package adds rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, cruise control, and light and rain sensors. These make the car easier to live with.

The technology package is expensive - and not available on SE cars - but it adds sat-nav, a hard-drive based music system and speech recognition. Buyers looking for higher-specification models will aim for cars with this option, making it easier to sell later on.

Do I need to look out for anything else?
Make sure you go for coordinated interior and exterior colour combinations. Most of the colour choices are pretty conventional but there are a few, such as the 'Samoa orange metallic', that may prove less desirable than others.

When specifying an A1 you can also pick the colour of the whole roof, or the 'contrast line' around the windows. Be careful, because some colours work better than others.

The ideal combination?
A manual 1.4-litre TFSI Sport model with the comfort and technology pack, and optional DAB digital radio and tyre pressure loss indicator.

Parkers Top Tip:
Thinking about buying a car? Check out the Parkers car buyer's toolkit for more advice and information.