Olly and I were discussing cars that we both like and discovered that we were both fans of the original Audi A2, a small 5-door 4-seater, lightweight, economical car with a bit of prestige thrown in. Then came its recent successor the Audi A1, but despite being a small, practical Audi like the A2, it was only available as a 3-door.
To address this issue which may have put some buyers off the original A1 3-door, Audi is launching the Audi A1 Sportback (5 door version) in early 2012, much to our delight here at SimonsCarSpots.
Not only is the new Audi A1 Sportback a 5-door, it’s also slightly bigger than the 3-door, coming in at 3.95 meters which means a bigger boot and more legroom for the rear passengers – bingo! Speaking of rear passengers there are still four seats as standard but you can add an extra seat from the options list if fitting three people in the back matters to you for whatever reason (sounds a bit of a tight squeeze to us, until we get to review an Audi A1 press car early next year when we can try it out for real!)
The Audi A1 Sportback also has a fresh-faced look in the small car sector, with highly innovative LED lighting technology (which looks just awesome!), a coupe-like roofline and an elegantly-styled shoulder line, all oozing with cutting-edge design, as we have grown to expect from the Audi styling house in the last few years.
What else do we like about the A1 Sportback? The model Olly and I are particularly excited about and can’t wait to test drive is fitted with a 150bhp 1.4 TFSI engine mated to a 27bhp electric motor integrated into the front drive train, on hand to deliver upto another 150nm of torque under acceleration when required, yet amazingly the car only weighs 40kgs more than a standard A1!
Kicking out just 92g/km of CO2, it’s tax free and what impressed us is that you can even plug the A1 Sportback into your home electricity supply to charge the battery if you so desire. Almost unbelievably, the A1 Sportback by default is set to ‘Efficiency Mode’ where it can run purely off the battery and nothing else for up to 62.14 miles. And no it won’t make you feel like you’re in a milk float as it can reach speeds of up to 62mpg in pure electric mode, whilst helping save the environment at the same time! But as per similar cars with an electric motor, you can set the A1 Sportback to Sport mode if you want to let rip, courtesy of both the petrol and electric motors.
The Audi A1 Sportback is available with 18″ alloy wheels and the brakes are 12″ so stopping shouldn’t be a problem, with handling being taken care of by McPherson front and four-link independent rear suspension. Also included as standard is Audi’s Magnetic Ride which instead of using conventional shock absorber fluid uses what Audi call “magneto-rheological fluid”, meaning the damping can be electronically controlled at will, just like it can in an Audi R8!
The techno addicts among you will love the fact that the Infotainment system option for the A1 Sportback even includes internet connectivity if you so happen to have a Bluetooth telephone. Many in
the industry and in the general public have praised Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus interface, hailing it as better than BMW’s iDrive. And what with the Audi A1 Sportback being a “yes car”, it can certainly be spec’ed out with MMI Navigation Plus if you want it.
So the Audi A1 Sportback is feature-packed both in the design and technology stakes and in terms of engine choice is available with four small but powerful petrol and three diesel powerplants. The A1 Sportback’s petrol engines range from a 1.2 TFSI with 85bhp all the way through to the hottest version which we talked about earlier – the 1.4 TFSI S-tronic with 185bhp. People are becoming increasingly environmentally-minded so will be interested in knowing that the VED range for the Audi A1 Sportback line starts at band C for the 1.2 petrol engine which kicks out a lowly 118g/km CO2 and achieves a claimed 55mpg according to Audi. Even the sporty 1.4 TFSI S-tronic is only in VED band E with 139g/km CO2 with a claimed 47.9mpg, which is brilliant for a car that has a seven speed auto box. The S-tronic force transmission allows for super-fast gear changes, ideal for both in town, on country roads and on the motorway, and will probably result in improved fuel economy too.
There is only one diesel engine Audi A1 Sportback available initially, the 1.6TDI 105bhp, available in SE, SPORT and S-LINE trim guises. And the big advantage of the diesel Audi A1 Sportback is that it’s free to tax! Yes, despite being a 1.6 diesel it emits only 99g/km CO2 which means it’s one of the lowest-polluting cars on the market (according to the UK Government). Further contributing to the A1 Sportback’s environmental credentials, stop-start is fitted as standard on all models except the 1.4 TFSI S-tronic 185ps.
The Audi A1 Sportback’s interior will be upto the usual standards of Audi refinement with good quality materials throughout, although the most common black interior is still quite dark and gloomy in our opinion.
Coming as music to our ears here at SimonsCarSpots is the news that Audi can provide customers with a tailor-made interior for their A1 Sportback from the options list, which Olly and I think is well worth specifying as it really does make the interior a more inviting and even more special place to be.
And the final reason we’re looking forward to seeing how the Audi A1 Sportback fares in the UK after its new launch in early 2012 is its price, ranging from £13,980 for the 85bhp 1.2 TFSI upto £21,270 for the 7 speed 185bhp 1.4 TFSI S-tronic.
Not only do we think the Audi A1 Sportback will appeal to young ‘urban’ drivers in their 20s and 30s – we also think it will sell well amongst more mature drivers as well, as we have noted quite a few couples of retirement age who own environmentally-kind, cutting-edge smaller cars just like this one.
Olly and I differed on what models we’d choose to buy if it was our own money:
Olly’s Choice… 1.4 TFSI Manual with 122bhp at £16,230 (approx)
Simon’s Choice… 1.6 S-line at £18,425 (approx)
Click on the YouTube link below to see a quite funky video on the Audi A1 Sportback, highlighting some of the available colours, the aggressive styling and exquisite detailing and practical facts like the rear seats folding for extra carrying capacity: