If you’re wanting to join the Audi club but absolutely have to have the practicality of a five-door hatchback, the price of admission just got a lot lower with the introduction of the Audi A1 Sportback.
Available early in 2012, the Audi A1 Sportback sticks two extra doors onto the sides of the A1 supermini, instantly making it a more practical proposition. The Sportback is 6mm wider and 6mm taller than the three-door, Audi’s answer to criticisms of the lack of rear space. Despite the slight change in proportions and to the door and window layout the A1 Sportback looks very similar to the handsome three-door. The side profile is a little more fussy with the extra shut-lines but the front and rear views are unchanged.
For hot hatch officianados the good news is that the Sportback comes with all of the engines available to the three-door, particularly the two most powerful units. The twin-charged 183bhp 1.4-litre TFSI engine sits at the top of the range and comes as standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox. The TFSI engine is capable of 0-60mph in just 6.7 seconds and has a top speed of 141mph, while the automatic gearbox provides rapid and seamless shifts. It’s the engine I’d go for but if fuel economy is a concern then the new 142bhp 2.0 TDI will appeal, offering 60mpg, 0-60mph in just 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 135mph.
The interior sticks to Audi’s class-leading recipe of top notch materials and classy design, with controls trimmed in chrome and illuminated in a soothing red light. Cloth seats are standard on the lower models with leather as an option, while the S-line gets leather as standard. An odd twist is that the Sportback comes with a four-seat layout but a three-seat rear bench can be fitted at no extra cost. There are lots of options for customising your A1, from the shade of leather down to the colour of the air vent sleeves.
One of the areas in which the A1 excels is multimedia and navigation and the Sportback takes that a step further. The standard Audi Concert system comes with a flip-up screen and memory card readers for MP3 compatibilit, and you can upgrade to iPod connectivity and built-in sateliiate navigation. There’s also Bluetooth for mobile phone users, standard on the Sport and S-line models, and the leather steering wheel houses controls for proper hands-free operation.
If you’re prepared to put your hands deeper into your pockets you can upgrade the multimedia systems even further. How does a 14-speaker 465-watt Bose grab you? If I said the front woofers were illuminated with LEDs, would that convince you to pick one?
You can even turn the A1 into a wireless hotspot. The Bluetooth connection provides access to the ‘Audi connect’ online service, and that means you get access to images from Google Earth in the navigation, news, weather and travel information, as well as internet radio. The wireless hotspot means you can connect your other mobile devices to the Internet.
In typical Audi form there are plenty of other options to choose from, including xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights, high-beam assistant, light and rain sensors, panoramic sunroof, parking sensors, cruise control … the list goes on.
The entry price for membership of the Sportback club is going to be £13,980 for the entry-level 1.2 SE five-door, adding £560 to the price of the equivalent three-door. The weight penalty for those extra doors isn’t too bad either, adding only 25kgs to the kerbweight of the 1.2 SE for a total of 1,065kgs.
The A1 has already proved to be hugely popular with 18,000 being sold in the last year alone and Audi expect the new launch of this five-door model to attract even more buyers. I can’t see them being disappointed.