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Audi S1 Sportback review

The S1 Sportback is a compact city car powered by a seriously rapid 230hp engine. Sadly, its cramped back seats mean you won’t be able to bring tall friends along for the ride…

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This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Well-built interior
  • Very fast for a small car
  • Gets four-wheel drive as standard

What's not so good

  • Quite expensive
  • Alternatives are more practical
  • Back seats are quite cramped

Audi S1 Sportback: what would you like to read next?

Is the Audi S1 Sportback a good car?

The Audi S1 Sportback is a hot hatch that’s well worth considering if you’re looking for something seriously fast, upmarket and a little easier to live with than the standard three-door S1.

Inside, the S1 Sportback looks identical to the standard S1 – you get the same glossy air vents, simple dashboard layout and infotainment screen that folds out from the top of the dash. It might not look as cool as a Mini Cooper S’ cabin but it feels nearly as well built.

This being a sporty S model, you also get some bright red trims, a race-car style flat-bottomed steering wheel and some more supportive front seats that’ll hold you firmly in place in the corners.

Even if you’re quite tall there’s enough seat adjustment to help you find your perfect driving position. Sadly, the back seats are significantly less roomy and the rather small rear windows make it feel a little claustrophobic. At least its extra doors mean it’s much easier for passengers to climb into than in the standard three-door S1.

Boot space doesn’t grow over the standard three-door model, so the Sportback isn’t quite as practical as the five-door Mini Cooper S. You’ll still be able to carry a small suitcase or a baby buggy in the Audi but fitting a bike (even with the back seats folded) will be a tight squeeze.

Not being able to carry a wardrobe probably won’t be a dealbreaker if you’re considering a small, sporty car like the S1 – especially once you’ve sampled its considerable performance.

The S1 Sportback is good fun to drive but trades some hot-hatch giggles for outright pace

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

Its rorty 230hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine gives acceleration that’s unmatched by any other car this small (and many cars that are bigger) – it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in an impressive 5.9 seconds.

Head out onto a twisty country road and the Audi will dart from corner to corner like a mosquito dodging a fly swat. It comes with four-wheel-drive as standard (to maximise grip on slippery roads) and clever adaptive suspension that’ll help stop it leaning in corners and soften the blow of large potholes.

Sure, it’s no Rolls Royce but it’s still reasonably relaxing to drive – its small size makes it easy to manoeuvre and it’s quieter at speed than most small cars.

It doesn’t come with quite the same amount of high-tech safety tech as some newer alternatives but the S1 Sportback is still a plush, grin-inducing small car that’s easy to live with – if a bit pricey.