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Audi A1 Sportback and Mini Clubman SD put to the test: lifestyle carriages

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Audi A1 Sportback and Mini Cooper Clubman in the test
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K linen car, wherever go? If these two competitors have their way, up. At least when it comes to prices. Let's not talk about it: the basic price of 23,750 euros for an Audi A1 Sportback 2.0 TDI is tough, 26,500 euros for a Mini Clubman Cooper SD is almost cheeky. In terms of dimensions, we are ultimately in the automotive lower house, where two much larger Dacia Duster can be chugged over from Romania for the same money. Which as an argument is about as good as the assertion that two filter coffees are better than one espresso.

This is how you have to take the two opponents: They are small, but with their two-liter diesel engines, they are very powerful and each intense aroma. Those who are willing to pay more for less volume should do so after all. At least in terms of automotive philosophy, it is the nicer approach than striving for more and more sheet metal.

Audi A1 Sportback inspires with luxury-class details

After all, the Audi A1 Sportback and the Mini Clubman are the pragmatic ones Tops of their kin. The smallest Audi now also opens four doors, and the Clubman is one of the very few two-plus-one-door representatives - we don't count rear doors. Whereby the convenience advantage of its counter-opening right back door is kept within narrow limits. It is certainly better than none at all, but in comparison to a real four-door model like the A1, it is not the gateway to getting on board.

Once inside the Audi A1 Sportback, the roof in the rear is already threatening to the passengers close, while you stay noticeably more airy in the Oxford small van. The word transporter can be taken literally: The Mini Clubman does not offer any significant trunk advantage, but its steep end, the two-wing tailgate and the lower loading sill parry bulky luggage more loosely than the less practical A1 hatchback.

Blaspheme the Mini should still resist, because with its kitschy, playful dashboard it sacrifices functionality on the lifestyle altar. This gag is pretty much done. The Audi A1 Sportback proves that it can also be beautiful, elegant and practical. Its chic interior clearly differentiates it from the platform dispenser VW Polo and impresses with upper-class details, impeccably clean workmanship and a readable speedometer - there's something like that, dear Mini.

When you're sprintingboth on par

Operation is intuitive, and in addition to a standard CD radio, there is a convincing navigation package (including concert radio for 425 euros) with a color screen for 1,160 euros. The Mini also offers its CD radio free of charge, but the only available large navigation system costs 1,950 euros, along with the essential Radio Visual Boost for 1,200 euros. For another 250 euros, you can facebook, tweet and listen to web radio in the mini via the i-phone integration app. An online check of the account balance was wisely not programmed. Now the Audi A1 Sportback should resist the blasphemy, because its price list calls up 290 euros for the web radio extension alone. So, even with small cars, a double-digit group return can be achieved.

Where - what does small mean here? The Premium-Bambini hunt like the grown-ups. The two 1.3-tonne trucks each grab 143 hp and over 300 Nm by the collar and casually throw them forward. Driven to the speed limit of over 4,000 rpm, the two don't give each other an inch in the sprint. Only the grumpier tone of the SD differentiates the two two-liter turbos. Only in fifth and sixth gear does the Audi A1 Sportback fall almost as deep as the Altmühltal. If you don't downshift at lightning speed, you lose many seconds to the Mini with the long gear ratio when overtaking. After all, the Audi sips a glass of water less diesel per 100 km.

Neither of them have much to do with comfort

Before we scurry through the next bends, let's take a look at the driving dynamics measurement values: The competitors don’t give a lot here - and when driving they look like they are from two planets or Oxford and Ingolstadt. The Mini flirted with its humorous reputation: it steers in jaggedly and also lets its opulent rear end dance when the load changes.

Audi A1 Sportback wins over costs

The Audi A1 Sportback remains subjectively cooler, turns in more calmly and circles more neutrally. In doing so, both reach formidably fast cornering speeds that would have scared some Ferraris in the nineties. What bothers are the quirks: The A1 distributes hard knocks in the valance, and the Clubman needs a surprisingly large turning circle. Since the braking performance is at a similarly high level, no one has a dramatic advantage in the property chaptersout.

So the hard judgment of the cost calculator decides on victory or defeat: The Mini is more expensive and offers less basic equipment than the Audi A1 Sportback. But it is only too easy to understand when you succumb to its flair. So we say: two espressos please.

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