The small and powerful hot hatch offering from Audi impresses in so many ways
A few years back, I was given the Audi A1 180 bhp front wheel hatchback. Loved it. As a small and fun courtesy car to err... throw around a bit, I was impressed. It sounded good, pulled well and handled better than your average hatchback. The only down side was the front wheel drive drive chain. Even with only the 180 bhp, it was hard to keep the little thing stuck to the road. Had a tendency to over steer with anything more than gentle acceleration. So I vowed that, if Audi ever launched a 4 wheel drive version, I would get one. Then came the S1. 231bhp, bags of torque, 4wd and and "S" badge. All good! As I promised myself, I picked up a 2015 ex-demo from Audi and was happy, very happy. I was very much the bigger brother of the 180hbhp version I had driven a while back. A good buy all around.
The car I bought had many of the options ticked on the list, which the exceptions a few packs (Alloys, spoiler, steering wheel upgrades etc.) But it did have the upgraded seats, Bose system, navigation plus and a few other creature comforts. First off, it was the 3 door model which meant the usual squeeze into the back of anyone larger than the average adult. I had not complaints about head room in the front or back, however, leg room was as expected from a mini hatchback... tight! The driving position was generally comfortable, but could have done with a little more reach on the telescopic steering. The performance seats were also comfortable and relatively wide. No problems on any length journey. The position of the gear stick was quite low for a sporty car and of course being a manual (yes a manual, the main issue I had with this car), it really would have been nice to have this positioned a little higher. The other challenge was that being a super mini, space in the foot well for the 3 peddles was a tad snug for my UK 10.5 shoes. Boot space on the A1 in general is OK, if you do not have the Bose upgrade, however, if you do, open the boot and you are presented with a much higher floor which isn't great. Fuel economy was pretty good given the performance potential, but don't expect to get 100's of miles form the small tank. The 5 door version remains a lot more practical, however, as a small and comfortable car, this is a good choice.
So this is where almost all was forgiven. When put through its paces, the S1 was an impressive car. Good straight line acceleration from the 2.0 litre engine and competent handling from the Quattro 4 wheel drive system. Audi told me that they had a choice, tip tronic gearbox or 4wd system. As much as I love an automatic gearbox, if I had to make the choice, I would have also made the same one. The 4wd system was good. Let me get a lot of the 231bhp onto the road and always felt solid when eating up the miles whether on the motorway or twisty back roads. and speaking of motorways, this car pulled on the highways like a much bigger car. Never for one minute felt like a super mini style car.. In sport mode, the gearbox became a bit jerky which was quick annoying, and with the tight pedals, it was sometimes difficult to to drive fast. But when I did it was very rewarding
This is a car that I would recommend to anyone looking for a small, very fun and very capable daily drive. You just need to remember that this is exactly what this is. The 5 door version is somewhat more practical I believe that Audi are no longer making a 3 door S1 anyway. The Bose system is worth losing boot space for, unless you really have a lot to carry. So overall, whilst its not the cheapest or the largest hot hatch, its a great car to drive everyday.