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Audi S1 Review and Prices

The Audi S1 is a super-fast small hatchback that rivals the Ford Fiesta ST, the Mini hatchback John Cooper Works and the VW Polo GTI.

wowscore
7/10
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Quick
  • Nice interior
  • Four-wheel-drive traction

What's not so good

  • Pricey
  • Firm suspension
  • Limited space in the back

Find out more about the Audi S1

Is the Audi S1 a good car?

With 0-62mph taking just 5.8 seconds, the S1 is the quickest car in its class and although it might not have the enthralling dynamics of some of its rivals, the grip of its four-wheel drive system means even a powerful sports car will have trouble keeping up on a tight twisting B road.

Based on the A1, the S1’s interior is starting to look a little dated, particular when compared to the much newer Mini. The quality of the fixtures and fittings is indisputable, though, and the fast hatch marks itself out from the rest of the range with a sprinkling of S1 badges, alloy pedals, a sports steering wheel and leather sports seats.

As a small car, it is not particularly spacious, but the Audi makes the best of the room that is available and four adults can fit so long as it’s not for too long. It’s also available in five-door ‘sportback’ form if you need easier access to the rear seats.

From outside the S1 is easy to distinguish from a regular A1 thanks to its 17-inch alloy wheels, sporty body kit and roof-mounted spoiler, while the four exhaust pipes hint at the powerful engine shoehorned under its tiny bonnet.

A long standard equipment list goes some way to justify the car’s high price – you get xenon headlights, auto lights and wipers, climate control and adjustable dampers, but sat-nav remains a £570 option.

The all-weather S1 treads on the heels of some very capable, more expensive machinery

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The Audi S1 has many positive characteristics – it’s fast, stable and feels upmarket. It has one of the best engines Audi currently offers and would show most of the competition a clean pair of heels point to point. Some rivals offer more thrills, but the S1’s biggest problem is a price that makes it look expensive.

If you want to read a more in-depth review of the S1, look at the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections over the following pages. Or, if you simply want to see how much you can save on an S1, just click through to our deals page.

How practical is it?

The S1’s all-wheel-drive eats into the boot space, but the difference isn’t enough for it to be an issue. Two people will be happy in the rear seats, although with three abreast it’s a bit of a squeeze

A good thing about the cosy boot is that your shopping will be kept in place as you fly through the corners

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
210 litres
Boot (seats down)
860 litres

The driver and front passenger won’t feel cramped in the S1, but the same can’t be said for those sitting in the rear. The sloping roofline and small windows only increase the claustrophobic feel, but the option to have it with five doors makes it that bit more practical than numerous rivals.

Storage spaces for the S1 are the same as that for the regular A1. This means that the door bins can easily take a large water bottle each and a further bottle can be stored in the front glovebox. Unfortunately, however, there is no centre console for added storage.

The drawback of the S1’s four-wheel-drive system is that you get less boot space than in the regular A1. With the seatbacks in place there’s a 210-litre capacity – 60 litres down on the normal car – and with them down that rises to 860 litres. For comparison, a Polo GTI that doesn’t have to accommodate a four-wheel-drive system has a 280-litre boot.

What's it like to drive?

The S1 is devastatingly effective – on tight country roads it’ll keep a supercar honest – but it’s too well behaved to be truly engaging.

The all wheel drive system means the performance is accessible whatever the weather

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The S1’s biggest selling point is its engine. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit is used in a huge number of other VW and Audi cars, but none are as small and light as the S1. That means it can make the most of its 230hp to hurtle from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds – a full second quicker than the Fiesta ST. It even sounds appealing with whooshing noises from the turbocharger gracing your ears every time you stamp your foot on the accelerator.

In a time when the Renault Clio RS is only offered with an automatic gearbox it’s refreshing to find the S1 comes equipped with a sweet six-speed manual that is effortless to use and makes the car more engaging to drive.

With the big engine come big running costs – fuel economy sits at 40.4mpg, which doesn’t sound too much, but rivals such as the Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST can theoretically return closer to 50mpg.

With lots of power wrapped in a small body, the Audi S1 is something of a pocket rocket capable of outperforming a plethora of more expensive cars – not to mention its direct rivals.

Cross country B roads are where the A1 comes into its own. Its small dimensions mean you have plenty of space on the road, so you don’t have to worry about traffic coming the other way, while the Quattro four-wheel drive system means it’s easy to get the car’s power down even in terrible weather.

The S1 uses a more complex rear suspension set-up than the regular A1 and it feels better tied down in corners as a result. The improvements can even be felt on the motorway, where the S1 rides better than the standard model on big wheels. It is also the only supermini to get adaptive dampers as standard, so you can stiffen the car’s suspension for spirited driving before setting it to comfort for the long drive home.

What's it like inside?

Like any Audi, the S1 has an interior that is built to last and stylish to look at, but the small infotainment screen points to this being an older model and some of the switchgear is also showing its age.

Next Read full interior review