Audi’s new S-porty little 1 packs pretty big punch

06:35 05 June 2014

2014 Audi S1

2014 Audi S1


First there was the bonkers limited-edition A1 Quattro, and now there’s a more civilised and sanely-priced S1 Quattro for the masses, says Matt Joy of the Press Association.

Audi S1

Price: Audi S1 £24,900, five-door Sportback is £25,630

Engine: 2.0-litre, 228bhp, four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 273lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 5.8 seconds; top speed 155mph (limited)

MPG: 40.3 combined

CO2 emissions: 162g/km

What’s new?

More than you might think. It’s still clearly an Audi A1, but as well as the pumped-up exterior – which can be pumped up further still if you pay extra – there are significant changes under the skin.

The most important is a new 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. There’s a six-speed manual gearbox to go with it plus all-important four-wheel drive. The rear suspension has also been swapped for a more sophisticated four-link arrangement for better handling.

Looks and image

The standard A1 is already one of Audi’s best-looking cars and the S1 goes a step further. The strong colour palette means you need to be sure of what you like, but it’s small and tough-looking which is an endearing combination. The optional Quattro styling package adds bigger wheels, a black rear panel and discreet Quattro badges.

Space and practicality

The S1 is unquestionably a small car but you might be surprised what you can squeeze into it. Up front the slimline dashboard helps the feeling of space, while in the back it is snug but you can get adults in without causing upset. The boot is good for the class too but there is slightly less space than the standard A1 because of the four-wheel drive hardware.

Oddment space is pretty good for a small car too, and obviously if you choose the five-door Sportback version over the three-door getting into the back is easier.

Behind the wheel

Fun is clearly on the agenda with the S1 and it doesn’t disappoint. It has the Audi Drive Select system which allows you to change the power steering, throttle response and suspension settings depending on your mood. In Efficient or Comfort modes the S1 is civilised and comfortable, the engine hinting at its potential but remaining relatively quiet. Switch to Sport mode it all gets much more lively. There’s a pleasing pop and crackle from the exhaust, the steering has a little extra weight and the suspension firms up noticeably. In truth you’ll want to save that for fairly smooth roads, but the S1 is a complete hoot, feels indecently rapid and handles with real verve.

Value for money

The three-door version starts at £24,900 while the five-door Sportback is £25,630. For that you get 17in alloy wheels, electronic damping as a part of the Drive Select system and xenon plus headlights with LEDs at the rear. As always it’s the tempting options list that can push the price up.

Who would buy one?

Grown-ups wanting a small hot-hatch with more quality than the norm will love the S1. There are rivals from more mainstream manufacturers that may come close in terms of fun, but the S1’s outright speed is hard to beat. Add to that the high-quality cabin and the premium feel and the £25,000 price tag is acceptable. Older folk who want something small and smart might be tempted too, although sensitive backsides may find the ride a little firm.

This car summed up in a single word – condensed.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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