PREMIUM CHEAPIE: Audi's desirable A1 Sportback is a lovable little hatch with plenty of zip in 1.4 TFSI guise, and costs just over $30k before on-roads.
PREMIUM CHEAPIE: Audi's desirable A1 Sportback is a lovable little hatch with plenty of zip in 1.4 TFSI guise, and costs just over $30k before on-roads. Thomas Wielecki

Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI road test and review

PREPARE to raise an eyebrow. For less than $35,000, you can get this Audi A1 in your driveway.

Premium brands often come with equal price-tag expectations, but this pint-sized hatch wearing the prized four rings is an entree to the main menu.

Designed to whet the appetite for things bigger and better, it's the plush precursor to what Audi hopes will convert first-timers to long-term members of the buying family.

Audi isn't the only luxury marque with this tactic, although it does an enticing job at this price point. While the A1 lacks the stature in comparison to the brand's pin-ups, the driving enjoyment is top shelf.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

Comfort

Marketed for those in urban confines, the A1 is designed to be the posh little around-town accomplice.

Compact dimensions present the pivotal challenge. Adults can fit in the rear seats but things are tight, and those riding shotgun need to be mindful of leg room for those in the back.

With the cupholders in front of the shifter, gaining access can be difficult even with the automatic shifter.

Things are tight, as you would expect, but our family of four had few complaints during the daily grind and on weekend duties.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

On the road

Zesty and enjoyable to drive, the A1 feels composed and confident.

Providing the motivation is a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 92 kilowatts of power, which doesn't sound spectacular on paper yet it punches well above its weight.

The driver can really sling the hatchback around with consummate ease while feeling planted and in complete control. Light steering may not suit aggressive drivers, but the A1 ducks and dives nicely with each saw of the wheel, and it's a breeze to park in the tightest of allocations.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

What do you get?

Basic equipment includes a 16.5cm colour collapsible screen, cruise control, CD stereo with full phone and audio Bluetooth connectivity, sports front seats and climate controlled air con.

Other options

Prestige competition comes from the BMW 1 Series ($36,900) and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class ($35,900).

Practicality

Given its size, the A1 is certainly empty nester or second car territory. Those looking to transport passengers regularly would be better off with the larger A3, although we had no issue with two young children.

The boot can handle a weekly grocery shop with some strategic packing and the rear seats do have a split fold function.

Running costs

Averaging about six-litres for every 100km, it proved about one litre thirstier than the official Audi figure.

Servicing can be higher than mainstream brands so it's worth doing the sums before buying to avoid any shocks come servicing. There is an all-encompassing service package available for the first three years or 45,000km.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

Funky factor

Cute lines have a certain appeal, probably more likely to be favoured by women, but the pivotal kudos is worn on the grille.

Those four rings are worth their weight in gold and will be the most sought-after design feature by most buyers.

You could easily twist our arm to add the five-arm 17-inch alloys for $1600.

A1s come in 12 colours, and those seeking extra flair will love the chance to have a contrasting roof colour in black, silver, grey or pearl effect.

The lowdown

The perfect accessory for those fashion conscious, the A1 is certainly a lovable little hatch.

Given the size, it comes as no surprise there are some compromises when it comes to daily practicalities. However, the A1 has an ability to overshadow the drawbacks when you can drive on the highway with ease or rip through traffic and park in the smallest of spaces.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

Vital statistics

Model: Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.

Details: Five-door five-seat micro-size front-wheel drive sportback.

Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 92kW @ 5000rpm and peak torque of 200Nm @ 1400-4000rpm.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.

Consumption: 4.9 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 112g/km.

Bottom line plus on-roads: $30,100.

What matters most

What we liked: Zippy little performer, feels light and throwable, so good at everything.

What we'd like to see: Reversing camera and front parking sensors as standard, more practical interior design.

Warranty and servicing: Three years unlimited kilometre warranty with 24-hour roadside assist for the same period. Servicing intervals are annual or 15,000km. Audi offers a service plan for three years or 45,000km for $1580.

The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI.
The 2015 Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TFSI. Thomas Wielecki

The verdict

Driving experience 18/20

Features and equipment 16/20

Functionality and comfort 16/20

Value for money 17/20

Style and design 15/20

Total   82/100


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