TEST DRIVE | Audi S1 – Is It The Best Car In Audi’s Range?
Is Audi’s new S1 superhatch the most desirable car in the German auto maker’s almost infinite range? Don’t forget, that’s a range flooded with super saloons, practical estates, strong convertibles, big SUVs and a groundbreaking V10 supercar.
When you consider the extent to which efficiency and emissions now influence the car market, this may seem a bit unnecessary. But Audi knows otherwise. These models are all offered in the UK because people want to buy them. It’s that simple.
So compact, yet so purposeful, it looks a handful just parked up let alone on the move! The S1’s power output of 228bhp and the prospect of fun at speeds at least resembling the legal limit, not to mention a price tag that starts below £25,000, make it a very enticing package.
As with all the models in Audi’s A1 range, the S1 has a lovely interior. It’s just as nice as the bigger A3 but obviously you lose some passenger space in the rear, as well as luggage space.
But the A1 and S1 are prettier and simply more fun to be around than the ‘plain’ A3 and its undeserving reputation of being driven by idiots. Tech-wise, the tiny S1 is equipped to the hilt. Audi’s MMI system makes an appearance and delivers all the familiar features including integrated satnav, media interface and smartphone integration. I still maintain that Audi’s MMI interface is much nicer to use than BMW’s iDrive and Merc’s COMAND system.
The power output may be nothing special, but the 272lb/ft of torque is a talking point in a car so tiny and the 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds is even more impressive. The S1 bolts down back roads like a rat-catching terrier. The engine isn’t very loud but it can get a bit throaty and you get some old-school turbo lag gives the car a little added character. Makes you wonder if Audi have done this on purpose. Combine that with excellent grip and perfect quattro traction and you have a real gem of a car. It’s ridiculous how capable it is given its status as a tiny hatchback sitting at the bottom of the Audi range.
On the tech side, the S1 doesn’t really do anything hugely dramatic we haven’t seen before on other hot hatches. In doesn’t rewrite the rulebook for car tech and it’s not a futuristic car car. But that could be because we’ve been spoilt with such a high level of technology from Audi in the last couple of years.
So, if you want something, compact, manageable and classy with great road presence and plenty of performance in the real world, it’s hard to see how Audi’s S1 can possibly be beaten. Just don’t buy one in ‘Vegas yellow’. Please.