Driven: Audi A1 Sportback
NOW IN SA: Do extra doors make the A1 Sportback a "better car" than its three-door sibling? Possibly, yes.
Author: HAILEY PHILANDER
Audi’s A1 Sportback is now available in South Africa but do the extra doors mean double the practicality? We took it on a loop through a few Johannesburg suburbs to check it out.
A1 Sportback image gallery
The five-door A1 Sportback launch follows that of the three-door version in January 2012 and, given South Africans’ appetites for more practical five-door hatchbacks, is expected to make quite a dent in the three-door’s sales performance.
While the extra doors definitely do something for the A1’s profile – it now looks slightly more “complete” with its extended roofline (by 80mm) and widened rear space – the Sportback is no longer than the more familiar three-door (it’s 3.95m long).
With the extended roof line there is 11mm more headroom; rear passengers have 6mm more elbow room.
IDENTICAL, BUT MORE
The cabin is identical to that in the three-door with quality touches and solid finishes although the extra space in the back makes it feel more open and airy.
The A1 Sportback is sold as a five-seater in South Africa but although those of you who option the glass roof will have to settle for four. The luggage space, too, is unchanged at 270 litres.
The A1 Sportback rides on the same chassis as before, with a front Macpherson struts and rear torsion beam arrangement; despite the weight of the extra seats and doors it all feels beautifully balanced – both around the city but especially at speed on country roads.
The five-door’s seven-model line-up is identical to that of the three-door and comprises two petrol T FSI engines and a single 177kW/250Nm 1.6 TDI. The 63kW/160Nm 1.2T FSI continues as the entry-level version while the 1.4 is available as the 90kW/200Nm and the twincharged 136kW/250Nm versions.
WANT TO WAIT FOR S1?
We drove the 90kW and 136kW 1.4T FSI models with S tronic (neither new to the A1 range or the Audi portfolio) and the five-doors were perfectly nimble in stop-go traffic requiring quick lane changes as well as very comfortable on the longer stretches. The range-topping super- and turbo-charged unit (for now) guarantees the biggest fun dose in the little car while the 90kW has a great mix of power and comfort for everyday driving.
With the all-new A3 following later in 2012 and through into 2013, the A1 Sportback certainly looks ready to stake its claim to a top spot in the Audi profile, particularly with its mix of comfort, quality finishes and, now, five-door practicality.
I was left rather lukewarm by my last encounter with the A1 but this Sportback somehow feels more than the sum of its two extra doors. Keen A1 buyers may, of course, choose to bide their time until the hot S1 rolls into South Africa in 2013…
PRICES (including Audi's five-year or 100 000km Freeway maintenance plan):
63kW 1.2T FSI Attraction manual - R227 400
90kW 1.4T FSI Attraction manual - R242 500
90kW 1.4T FSI Attraction S tronic - R260 000
90kW 1.4T FSI Ambition manual - R260 500
90kW 1.4T FSI Ambition S tronic - R278 000
136kW 1.4T FSI S line S tronic - R319 500
77kW 1.6 TDI Ambition manual - R254 500