The Audi S1 is a Supermini with the heart of a cougar. Even factoring in any pre-release effusiveness, this hatchback is unlikely to deflate your road-faring bubble. Other 2013-2014 hatchbacks can’t be faulted for trying but, apart from the BMW 1-series and Renault ZOE, they have all lacked the burly look that makes the S1 the androgynous beast that it is. A chunky muzzle and sculpted body are finished off with quad exhaust pipes, a bulked up grille, and almost lewdly angled headlights. To cap this little monster’s handsome looks off, a palette of 12 new-fangled shades have been added, with neon green, burgundy, and chocolate being the more daring of these. As a bow to its Quattro cousin, oh-so-subtle roof contrasts add just a hint of extra sportiness.
King of the Road
The S1’s mergence of classy Audi feel, poised handling, and a pumped-up 273lb ft of torque make for sensory theatre. Its ferociousness belies its compact size but, as they say, dynamite comes in all-wheel drives, (or is that packages?) The hot-hatch has three personalities packaged in Drive Select: auto, dynamic, and efficiency. A 2.1-litre engine, turbocharged with 228 brake horsepower and 3000 rpm, makes for ride that’s aggressive, even for an Audi.
When it comes to handling, unrequited expectations are not an S1 problem. It appears to have been designed for fun-loving city-coasters, with enough torque to make its 6-speed manual gearbox seem secondary—there is little need to fidget with gear changes in a car that surges so easily between low revs and full throttle. At 0-62 in 5.8 seconds, it gives you the kind of street sprint that Audi promised of its luxury compact cars in 2013.
Every car that rolls of production lines these days needs to compete in terms of energy efficiency, something the Quattro system excels at. In addition to its predecessor’s engine features, the S1 has a start/stop function that is frugal with fuel and CO2 emissions. An intelligent Driver’s Information System communicates your operating status through the gearshift indicator and cockpit, helping you to shrink your fuel consumption by up to 30%. This is achieved by letting you programme your driving style through an on-board computer and track your fuel consumption as it relates to the current journey. For the truly pennywise, an oversized display commands gear changes for heightened fuel efficiency.
Inside the Cabin
The S1 holds on to the A1’s reputation interior comfort but it has its own glitter, too. The sizzling red-accented start button and S-embossed upholstery are the S1’s more ubiquitous additions. Its leather-coated multi-function steering wheel has a flat underside that clears extra legroom. With its roomy red-stitched leather, black cloth sports seats and advanced MMI navigation system, the cabin wraps you up in its own brand of extravagance.