Audi S1 review – impressive and expensive in equal parts - Audi S1 ride and handling

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

The broken, lumpen B-roads around evo’s Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire homes have exposed many an oversprung performance car over the years, but the S1 absorbs the endless bumps sweetly and without deflection, keeping its four contact patches firmly in touch with the tarmac.

Even in the stiffer damper mode – which is part of the standard-fit Drive Select system – there’s enough pliancy; in fact, for the extra body control it also delivers it becomes the default setting for spirited driving, regardless of the nature of the road surface.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

There is never any real sense of connection through the steering wheel, but it is at least devoid of the unpleasant stickiness that afflicts some other fast Audis. The wheel itself could perhaps reach out an inch or two further towards the driver and the seat is mounted too high by the same amount, but these are minor criticisms of an otherwise welcoming driving environment.

That four-wheel-drive system brings boundless traction at corner exit, but it doesn’t add any other dimension to the driving experience. The S1 will never take an oversteer stance under power, instead firing away from corners without a hint of wheelspin. The chassis does respond to lifts off the throttle mid-corner, making the S1 adjustable and entertaining in the manner of a true hot hatch.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The very best small hot hatches, though – namely the Fiesta ST and 208 GTi – are even more engaging to drive because there’s yet more inherent adjustability and agility in their chassis. They don't have the wet weather ability of the Audi, driving only the front wheels, but both have an addictive immediacy that the Audi can't quite match, even if it'd be nicer to live with every day.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/seat/leon-cupra/22765/new-2020-cupra-leon-revealed-cupra-hits-back-with-hot-hatch-and-estate
SEAT Leon Cupra

New 2020 Cupra Leon revealed

Cupra’s launched not just one, but a whole range of hot Leons to rival the rapidly expanding hot hatch class in 2020
21 Feb 2020
Visit/used-cars/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
21 Feb 2020
Visit/saloons/202277/bmw-m5-competition-v-mercedes-amg-e63-s-600bhp-supersaloons-go-head-to-head
Saloons

BMW M5 Competition v Mercedes-AMG E63 S - 600bhp supersaloons go head-to-head 

The BMW M5 Competition and Mercedes-AMG E63 S both boast more than 600bhp, 0-62 times in the threes, and massive road presence. Which begs the questio…
22 Feb 2020
Visit/hyundai/201819/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-nurburgring
Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Nurburgring

We brought the Hyundai i30 Fastback back to its spiritual home in Germany's Eifel mountains, where there is a racing track you might well have heard o…
7 Oct 2019