The AUDI A1 Sportback, a Class Act

In Audi, Car Reviews by Tom Scanlan

The Audi A1 Sportback, here is a car that covers all the angles – literally: inside and out, especially inside, there’s hardly a soft curve; it’s a study in angular shapes.


Its appeal would appear, therefore be to someone with a particular eye as to what a car should look like. But what about beneath the skin?

Of course, with Audi and all so-called ‘premium’ marques, you can expect, and you get, top-quality performance, at a price…twas always thus, wasn’t it? Not that ‘lesser’ makes aren’t far closer than they ever were before in that respect.

This A1 had the lower-powered 116 PS 3-cylinder engine allied to the S-Tronic 7-speed gearbox.

Out on the motorway, this is one of the quietest 3-potters I have tried. It’s on 2500 rpm at 70 mph and the only sound is some hardly noticeable wind-noise and ditto tire/road noise; the A1 was wearing Bridgestone low-profiles on 18-inch alloys.

The car was well-tested on the challenging ups and downs that is the A361 in North Devon. Once wound up, the little engine roared up the hills, able to take advantage of the dual carriageways to safely overtake slower traffic. Best practice was to manually drop a couple of gears to get the revs going, but even that wasn’t always necessary for the game little engine. The gearbox action itself could hardly have been any slicker. Zero to 62 mph can be reached in 9.4 seconds; the top speed is given at 126 mph: Wow! Is this true? I suppose it is…

On long downhills, again, drop two or three gears to add engine braking to normal braking (which, in itself, was excellent).

The steering and handling made the car fun to drive, given the right conditions.

The A1 had four adults on board and the boot and the underfloor space were choc-a-bloc with luggage; with that, and the lights and air-conditioning all at work, the indicated fuel consumption over nearly 400 miles of driving that included stop-start in towns was an impressive 49.2 mpg. This gave a range comfortably over 400 miles. In town traffic alone, from a cold start, reckon around the mid-twenties.

This being the smallest car in the Audi range, what was it like for my two adult passengers in the back? Well, naturally, although space is probably the most that can be created on this platform, they did feel a bit cramped after a while and would have appreciated some of their own air-con and somewhere to park cups and bits and pieces. Also, a fold-down centre section; in a ‘premium’ car whose on-the-road price, with options, was £27,495, perhaps these are not unreasonable requests.

If you need to extend the carrying capacity, the rear seats are easily folded forwards for an extra flat surface. The rear tailgate lifts high to ease rear loading.

The ride was generally comfortable; the poorer road surfaces could cause quite a thump.

The build quality and finish of the interior appeared impeccable. A variety of materials and bright and shiny-ness prevailed…accented by those angles.
As ever, learning how all the technology worked takes quite some while until you get accustomed to at least a bit of it. Connectivity is all the rage. Had I wanted to use the voice-command system, I would have had to use my smart-phone: this was new to me and, unless I misunderstood instructions, I have to wonder why. And why did the audio always switch on at a low level, when the ignition key went in? A plus point, though, for the very good sat-nav screen.

The key can, if you want, open all four windows as it unlocks the car. Good. But it wouldn’t close those windows when used to lock the car up again…or, again, did I not use it correctly. Yes, I know, consult the owner’s manual. But it’s all to do with intuitiveness.

Overall, the A1 is the usual Audi class act.


Car reviewed: Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 30 TFSI 116 S tronic S line, on the road price £23,830 0-62mph 9.4secs Top speed 126mph Engine 999cc 3-cylinder unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 40.4mpg CO2 emissions 112g/km Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission 7-speed dual clutch man sequential auto mode

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Tom Scanlan

Motoring Journalist

Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.