Audi A1 Sportback 1.6 Sport road test

  • Audi's A1 gains two doors to become a 'Sportback'
  • Will cost a 20% tax payer just £38 per month in tax
  • Drives extremely well and oozes car park chic

So you need a frugal, affordable small car but you’d like a premium badge? Look no further than the Audi A1 Sportback.

Powered by the 103bhp 1.6TDI diesel engine, the Sportback will return a fleet manager-friendly average of 74.3mpg and emit 99g/km of CO2. When compared to rivals, it’s pretty hard to beat.

The facts speak for themselves. It returns 2.1mpg more than the MINI Cooper D Clubman 1.6D (the 120bhp returns 72.4mpg with a manual ‘box) and it will be more frugal than an Alfa Romeo Mito 120bhp 1.6-litre JTD manual three-door, which returns 64.2mpg.

The A1's CO2 emissions of 99g/km compare well with the MINI Cooper D Clubman 120bhp 1.6D, which emits 103g/km of CO2. The Alfa emits CO2 at a rate of 114g/km.

This means that if you enter the London Congestion Charge at any time in your Sportback you will not be charged, and with a Benefit-in-Kind banding of 13%, the A1 Sportback is likely to feature on a lot of company car lists.

On the road the Audi performs really well. It will get from 0 to 62mph in 10.7 seconds and has a top speed of 118mph.

The A1 Sportback feels assured at motorway speed but if you need to overtake on single-lane carriageways then you’ll have to work the five-speed manual gearbox to complete your manoeuvre in safety.

On the twisty stuff the A1 has plenty of grip and very little bodyroll, which combine to the driver lots of confidence. It’s not class-leading handling though; the MINI feels a tad more balanced and agile but there’s not much in it. On the plus side the Sportback rides better (especially if you don’t add big wheels) and is way more refined than the MINI. The A1 has a grown-up feel about it, it is well-built and has a classy interior. 

The five doors add some charm to the A1 as well as welcome practicality for young families. It has 270 litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats in place and that’s 10 litres more space than that in the boot of a MINI Clubman. Fold the seats flat in the rear and the cargo capacity expands to 920 litres. The MINI turns the tables with the seats folded to offer a total loadspace of 930 litres when the rear bench is flat. That’s 10 litres larger than the A1.

In Sport specification (mid-level trim) the A1 Sportback comes with an array of standard kit including 16-inch alloys, sports seats, sports suspension, front fog lights, Bluetooth with voice control and a multi-function leather steering wheel.

If you liked the three-door A1 when it first went on sale but were put off because you needed five doors then this represents something of a solution. It may be the smallest Audi on sale but the quality both inside and out makes this a classy vehicle. It has to be one of the best small cars around and it would certainly look good in the company car park.

This version of the A1 Sportback starts from £16,880 but we can assume a P11d value of around £17,500 with a few options thrown-in. Since it emits 99g/km of CO2 is sits in the 13% BIK band, meaning a 20% tax payer will be in for around £38 per month and company car driver on the 40% scale will be in for around £78 per month.


Also consider:

MINI Clubman

The MINI Clubman is a more practical alternative to the standard hatchback and it’s engaging to drive.

VW Polo

It's refined, stylish and - depending on which engine you choose - can be incredibly frugal or delightfully quick.

Ford Fiesta

It’s stylish and good to drive. The Fiesta borrows many innovations from larger Fords, such as keyless entry, Bluetooth handsfree connectivity.