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Audi unveils five-door A1 Sportback

Back door operation: Audi’s A1 Sportback gains an extra two doors, three years after the concept appeared at the Paris show.

Practicality, more interior space to further boost appeal of Audi’s hot-selling A1

Audi logo18 Nov 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

AUDI has unveiled the five-door Sportback variant of its popular A1 light car – which was previewed by the Sportback concept at the 2008 Paris motor show – more than six months ahead of its Australian showroom debut.

Scheduled to arrive Down Under early in the third quarter next year, the A1 Sportback adds practicality to Audi’s light-car line-up, with the aim of poaching yet more sales from premium rivals like the Mini Cooper, Citroen DS3, Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat 500.

Australian pricing and engine line-up will be revealed closer to launch time, although Audi Australia says all engines are under consideration.

If the related Polo from parent company Volkswagen is anything to go by, customers could be expected to pay at least $1200 more for the additional rear doors.

To accommodate the extra doors, the Sportback gets slimmer C-pillars and the body’s height and width have been enlarged by six millimetres, which might partly address a weakness identified by GoAuto with head and shoulder room for rear occupants in the three-door version.

7 center imageThe five-door A1 remains 3954mm long like the three-door, as does its 270-litre luggage capacity, which expands to 920 litres with the split rear seats – two individual seats as standard, with a three-seat bench as a no-cost option – folded down.

A new Samoa Orange paint finish will be exclusively available on the Sportback, while a set of Sportback-specific body-styling customisations will also become available.

Audi has managed to keep the Sportback’s weight under control, quoting 1065kg for the 1.2 TFSI base model not sold in Australia – 25 kg more than the equivalent three-door.

In addition to the 90kW and 136kW 1.4-litre petrol engines and recently-introduced 66kW 1.6-litre diesel Audi offers in Australia, European markets also get a 63kW 1.2-litre petrol and a 77kW version of the 1.6-litre diesel.

Audi is contemplating introducing the 1.2-litre petrol engine to Australia, which could see the range open at around $25,000 – giving it a competitor for the $25,500 entry-level Mini Ray – but Audi Australia will not make the move until it can guarantee supply of an automatic transmission option for the 1.2.

A 105kW turbo-diesel displacing 2.0-litres is being introduced in Europe on the three-door A1 and will join the Sportback line-up a few months after its European launch.

The A1 has been a resounding success in Australia, with 1502 sold since its local launch in March this year, placing it fourth in the brand’s rankings and poised to overtake the A3 next year.

Adding the five-door Sportback model could eventually see the diminutive A1 become Audi’s top-selling model internationally, including Australia.

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