Find a car review

Make
Model
Reviews

Audi S1 review – impressive and expensive in equal parts

The Audi S1 brings speed, premium appeal and impressive build quality to the junior hot hatch segment.

Evo rating
Price
from £27,000
  • Performance, secure handling and overall quality
  • Expensive, not as exciting as some

Audi is known to be somewhat inconsistent with its performance models; some hit all the right notes and others completely miss the mark. The S1 is definitely one of Audi’s better recent efforts because it’s both fast and entertaining to drive.

The S1 doesn’t have any direct rivals because it combines big hot hatch performance (and price) with a small hot hatch footprint, but it’s a very easy car to recommend nonetheless. Performance is very strong indeed but it doesn't come at the expense of traction, since the S1 uses Quattro all-wheel drive, like all of Audi's S models.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

It doesn't come at the expense of usability either because driven at a gentler pace the S1 is among the calmer, more comfortable options in its size class, with relatively little road and wind noise and a pliant ride, and while the current generation A1 is now a seven year old car inside and out, the S1's cabin is such a simple, considered design that it hasn't really aged.

Given it's also available as a five-door car (most rivals commit you to either three or five doors, but few offer the option of both) it can be surprisingly practical too. Some other options in this class are more exciting, but few have quite the mix of all-round abilities as the S1.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Audi S1 Quattro in detail

> Performance and 0-60mph time - A large engine in a small car certainly does the numbers, with acceleration to match hot hatchbacks from the class above. Read about the Audi S1's performance here

> Engine and gearbox - Audi's familiar 2-litre turbocharged petrol sits under the bonnet, with a 228bhp output that shades most in its class. The six-speed manual 'box is welcome, as is the traction of quattro all-wheel drive. Read about the Audi S1's gearbox here

> Ride and handling - Not as engaging as the best small hatches, but the pliant ride is welcome on craggy UK roads and there's real balance to the chassis too. Read about the Audi S1's ride and handling here

> MPG and running costs - 40mpg on paper, low 30s in the real world, and 25mpg if you're enjoying the performance. Strong residuals should ease the pain when you come to sell. Read about the Audi S1's MPG and running costs here

> Interior and tech - If you can stand the unrelenting black trim, the S1's cabin is a nice place to be. Five-door model increases practicality. Read about the Audi S1's interior and tech here

Prices, specs and rivals

Starting at £27k, the S1 is pricey but that reflects its premium status and performance – among the hot supermini’s nothing is as quick as the S1. Two trim levels are offered, the Nav and Competition Nav: the latter hikes the price to £30k, for bigger wheels, privacy glass and carbon door mirrors.

Advertisement - Article continues below

For the price standard equipment is  acceptable rather than generous: automatic xenon headlights, sat-nav and cruise control are all included. Black is the only cost-free paint option, whereas the metallic and pearl effect finishes are priced at further £400, except for the Vegas yellow finish which is £600.  

The standard seats are upholstered in a combination of cloth and leather, and crucilly are well bolstered, so there’s no reason to fork out £600 for the leather trimmed super sport seats. If you want heated items that’s another £200, about £100 more than Audi is cheekily charging for a front armrest. Unlike more senior S and RS Audis there are no performance-based options to choose from, Audi Drive Select is standard, so there’s no extras we’d tag as must haves.

The Mini John Cooper Works proves the S1’s closest rival with a £25k list price. While the flagship Mini posts an identical power output to the S1, it can't match it for torque, making do with 236lb ft – 36lb ft less than the S1. That said, the JCW is an enjoyable drive, if not as involving and lithe as its predecessors.

The brilliant Volkswagen Golf GTI is the consummate every day hot hatch – it’s fast and fun to drive while also being more spacious and practical than the Audi. It's an example of how much closer the S1 gets in feel to cars from the class above, rather than similar supermini-sized models.

Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/best-cars/201772/best-v8-cars-past-and-present-our-favourite-eights-and-the-cars-theyre-found-in
Best cars

Best V8 cars past and present – our favourite eights and the cars they’re found in

Whether it’s smooth and sophisticated or motorsport-like in its aggression, the V8 remains one of our favourite engine types, warts and all
20 Sep 2019
Visit/spy-shots/201770/porsche-cayman-gt4-rs-spied-718-to-receive-rennsport-treatment
spy shots

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS spied – 718 to receive Rennsport treatment

More power, more aero and less weight are already on the cards for Stuttgart’s fastest Cayman
19 Sep 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can evo magazine’s Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to f…
20 Sep 2019
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019