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Car reviews - Audi - A1 - Sportback

Launch Story

Audi logo28 Jun 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

AUDI Australia has launched the five-door A1 Sportback with identical pricing to existing three-door versions, while introducing a brand new entry-level 1.2-litre petrol variant in both bodystyles.

At just $26,500 plus on-road costs, the new three- or five-door A1 1.2 TFSI Attraction is the cheapest Audi offered in Australia for more than 25 years.

Rather than charge a premium for the five-door, Audi Australia has instead opted to sweeten the three-door through the addition of extra features not found on the Sportback, including bigger alloy wheels, plus standard reverse sensors and automatic climate-control air-conditioning.

The new range-opening twins are powered by a 63kW/160Nm version of the more powerful 1.2-litre turbo-petrol unit used in products like the Volkswagen Polo and Golf, matched exclusively with a five-speed manual gearbox.

The brand new Sportback bodystyle joins the A1 range here 18 months after the three-door, and is the latest part of a staggered launch that has seen Sport hot hatch and frugal diesel three-door versions added in June and November last year respectively.

Managing director of Audi Australia Uwe Hagen told media at this week’s Sportback launch that the new five-door would help the company conquest even more buyers from less-premium brands, since it is traditionally more popular than a three-door layout in the local market.



“We knew from the beginning that five doors will be better than three doors,” he said, adding that the Sportback would appeal to prospective three-door A1 buyers who had held out for a more practical and spacious version.

Audi claims that 90 per cent of A1 three-door buyers are new to the brand, citing chief rivals for the Sportback as the Mini Cooper Hatch and Clubman, plus the forthcoming five-door Alfa Romeo MiTo.

The five-seat Sportback offers a claimed 11mm of extra headroom over the (four-seat) three-door courtesy of a roofline that is both 6mm higher and 80mm longer.

The five-door shares its 3954mm length and 2469mm wheelbase with the three-door, but the B-pillar has been shifted forward by 230mm to allow for the second set of doors.

The Sportback has 270 litres of rear cargo space – enough for a couple of travel bags – expanding to 920 litres with the back row of seats folded down.

As well as the new 1.2-litre turbo version, the Sportback is offered with the same 90kW/200Nm 1.4-litre turbo-petrol and 66kW/230Nm 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines as the three-door, matched to standard manual gearbox or optional dual-clutch S tronic semi-automatic.

As with the three-door, the Sportback will also be offered in flagship Sport guise, powered by a version of the Volkswagen Group’s 1.4-litre turbocharged/supercharged petrol engine developing 136kW and 250Nm, matched exclusively with the S tronic transmission.

The new entry 63kW 1.2-litre engine develops peak torque between 1500 and 3500 rpm and can accelerate the A1 Sportback from standstill to 100km/h in 11.9 seconds while consuming 5.1L/100km courtesy of fuel-saving measures like idle-stop and a low base weight of just 1065kg.

Audi Australia says an automatic transmission is not available with the new engine here, meaning the local market will be limited to a five-speed manual gearbox with the 1.2 – at least for now.

As with the three-door, the larger 90kW/200Nm turbocharged 1.4-litre engine will be offered in entry Attraction ($29,900) and higher-specified Ambition ($33,450) forms.

It can propel either variant from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds while consuming 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle when matched to either the standard six-speed manual or optional ($2350) seven-speed auto.

When fitted with the five-speed manual, the 66kW/230Nm 1.6-litre TDI Attraction ($29,900) consumes just 3.8L/100km of diesel (4.2L/100km for the optional seven-speed S tronic), making the self-shifter the equal-most-frugal car sold on the Australian market.

The flagship 136kW/250Nm Sport hot hatch ($42,500) develops maximum power at a high 6200 rpm and peak torque between 2000 and 4500 rpm, and can hustle from 0-100km/h in a brisk 7.0 seconds.

As with the three-door (and closely-related Volkswagen Polo GTI), the five-door Sport is matched solely to the seven-speed S tronic. Paddle shifters on the steering wheel are a $200 option.

All A1 Sportback variants come as standard with dual front, side and curtain airbags and carry a maximum five-star European NCAP safety score.

Standard features on the entry-level Ambition versions in either 1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI or 1.6 TDI guises include manual air-conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, electric windows, automatic headlights and wipers, multifunction leather steering wheel, an MP3 sound system with eight speakers and a retractable 6.5-inch screen, Bluetooth phone and audio and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The 1.4 TFSI-only Attraction variant gets larger 16-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, front fog lights, a front-centre armrest, better-bolstered front seats and high-gloss black air-vent surrounds for a $3550 premium.

The flagship Sport features additional extras including 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, Xenon headlights with LED daytime-running lights, automatic climate-control air-conditioning, and an LED interior lighting package.

As with the three-door, the Sportback uses MacPherson strut front suspension and a space-saving rear torsion beam axle, electro-hydraulic steering and an electronic stability control program that brakes the inside front wheel mid-corner to negate understeer.

Both 1.2 TFSI and 1.6 TDI variants get 256mm ventilated front disc brakes (288mm for the 1.4 TFSI and Sport) paired with 230mm solid rear discs.

The turning circle of the Sportback is a tight 10.6 metres.

In true Audi fashion, the Sportback is available with a vast array of options including keyless entry and start, various alloy wheel designs, privacy glass, parking sensors, high-beam assistant, Xenon headlights with daytime LEDs, climate-control, sports steering wheel, a 14-speaker Bose surround sound system and satellite-navigation, to name just a few.

A $2090 panoramic sunroof is also available, but it oddly requires the deletion of the fifth seat.

Audi has also taken a leaf out of Mini’s book by offering an almost unlimited range of exclusive custom colours built to order, plus an optional $720 contrasting roof colour.

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