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