Audi has unveiled the promised five-door version of its A1 supermini at the Tokyo motor show, and plans to have it in UK showrooms early in 2012. Called Audi A1 Sportback, the five-door is identical in size and style to the three-door, but designers have found an extra 6mm in both height and width, which they say improves rear-seat room, one of the few major points of criticism in the three-door.

The Audi A1 was an instant success when launched late last year, exceeding a planned annual sales rate of around 18,000 cars. The company believes volume should increase further with the launch of the Audi A1 Sportback, which should eventually account for about 70 per cent of total sales.

See official pics of the Audi A1 Sportback

At launch, the Sportback will be offered with the same four-level engine with which the three-door began life: three petrol engines (ranging from a normally aspirated 1.2-litre with 84bhp to a turbocharged and supercharged 1.6-litre with 184bhp that comes as standard with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox). The diesel is Audi’s economy showpiece, a 1.6-litre four producing 103bhp that emits just 99g/km of CO2.

Next summer the A1 Sportback will get the 141bhp, 184lb ft 2.0-litre “performance” diesel recently introduced to the three-door range. Its 0-62 time acceleration is 8.5 seconds, yet its combined cycle economy is an impressive 68.9mpg.

The A1’s kerb weight of 1065 kilograms is a relatively modest 25 kilograms ahead of the three-door figure. The entry-level Sportback 1.2 SE five-door costs £13,980, a premium of £560 more than the corresponding three-door. Audi dealers are taking orders now for delivery next spring.

Steve Cropley

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