Audi S1 | Spotted

Thanks to Abt and its recently announced 240hp A1, the hot Audi supermini lives on despite the prospect of no new S1 on the horizon. With more power than a Fiesta ST, Abtโ€™s 40 TFSI-based five-door ought to be a proper pocket rocket, although being front-drive and an S tronic auto means itโ€™s unlikely to ever live up to the appeal of the old S1. That was a car that took inspiration from the WRC wannabe A1 Quattro, after all.

Two years after the run of 333 A1 Quattros were completed, Audi decided to produce its series S1 modelย also using its 2.0-litre TFSI engine. Power was rated at 228hp, 10 per cent down on the Quattro, but as a series model it was considerably cheaper, priced ยฃ15k less than the Quattroโ€™s ยฃ40k list figure from 2012. The S1 lacked the Quattroโ€™s gorgeous white wheels and general racey demeanour, but what lay underneath was similarly exciting.

Power was sent to all four wheels via quattro hardware and a standard six-speed manual. Performance was suitably swift, the S1 sprinting from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and onto a limited top speed of 155mph, numbers that remain impressive for such a small car even today. This meant more adjustability than its larger siblings served up โ€“ and defied the notion that Audis all came with a safer balance.

With its peppy four-pot and two-axle drive, the S1 became a surprise enthusiastsโ€™ favourite, mixing big grip with a sweet front end and a boisterous sense of fun - particularly in slippery conditions, where the S1 to lived up to some of its rallying heritage. Cross country pace was rapid, but the process of getting from A to B was also less blunt than you might expect from an Audi S model. It was genuinely exciting, to the extent that you might choose one specifically for its handling.

The S1 was, however, still pricey. Starting at close to ยฃ25k in three door form and more than ยฃ26k as a Sportback, it sat alongside larger and more rounded hot hatch offerings. Fordโ€™s Focus ST, for example, was cheaper than the five-door Sportback and it had 252hp and offered more space. But the Audi was a premium product, and - even better - it was unique, thanks to Ingolstadtโ€™s determination to install all-wheel drive.ย 

Its reputation, not to mention its basic good looks and brand desirability, have ensured solid resistance to depreciation. The cheapest model listed on PH is up for just shy of ยฃ14k. Ignore the ranking and youโ€™ll note the 50,000-mile-old car looks to be no worse health than most others, backed by a full-service history and Haldex service only 10,000 miles ago. Itโ€™s smartly specced, wearing black paint and silver alloys, and the Sportback body ought to broaden its usability. More importantly, itโ€™s likely to be a whole heck more fun than any A1 you can buy today. Abtโ€™s effort included.ย 


Engine: 1,984cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 231@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 273@1,600-3,000rpm
MPG: 40.4mpg
CO2: 166g/km
First registered: 2015
Recorded mileage: 50,000
Price new: ยฃ25,635 (Sportback)
Yours for: ยฃ13,950

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Comments (83) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Porsche911R 08 Sep 2019

    They were great on paper but st to drive.
    We sold ours after 2 months after having mini's, Fista St, Clio’s etc the S1 was dull as dish water, I swapped it for a Golf and have not looked back.

    Quick A to B car in the wet, that’s it. Very over rated car sadly.

  • RacerMike 08 Sep 2019

    Yeah I can’t say they’re much fun to drive. Reading the article it sounds like you’re talking about a completely different car!

    In my experience, the handling it’s pretty inert with no participation from the rear axle at all, the steering is lifeless and lacking in feel and the ride is choppy. Sure, they were pretty quick in a straight line, but I think as a drivers car it’s a massive let down.

  • Riverside Red 08 Sep 2019

    Have to agree, a test drive was enough for me, was a typical boring Audi.

    Seem to remember it had a terrible seating position too.


  • Christian85 08 Sep 2019

    Riverside Red said:
    Have to agree, a test drive was enough for me, was a typical boring Audi.

    Seem to remember it had a terrible seating position too.

    Agree about the A1 seating position. I remember driving one a couple of years ago and it was terrible.

  • Ay caramba 08 Sep 2019

    "Audi is a premium product"
    "Brand desirability"

    Audi has never made anything to justify those two statements, not even the R8, which is a boring Gallardo.

    I already spot many 'premium items' in this S1 that are fitted to the Seat Ibiza. Does that make the Ibiza a premium product? Or are we just talking about a few plastic interior mould differences? Marketing is an amazing thing.

    And I'm sorry but Audi have not sorted the drive on this, or any other Audi for that matter, I've driven both 3dr and 5dr through work and they are st. I'd rather have the Ford, or even the Seat which manages to handle better despite being on the same platform.

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