Smallest Audis hit

hot spot

Audi S1, front
Audi S1, side
Audi S1, rear
Audi S1, interior
Audi S1, rear seats
Audi S1, boot
Audi S1, wheels
Audi S3 Cabriolet, front
Audi S3 Cabriolet, rear
Audi S3 Cabriolet, interior
Audi S3 Cabriolet, side
Audi Sport S1 quattro Rallye, 1984

IN the 1980s Audi topped the international rally scene with its fantastic Sport S1 quattro Rallye picking up the world championship and putting the German brand at the top of the list for sporting motors.

Decades on, Audi continues to offer keen drivers a wide choice of high performance cars and the latest to be released is the new S1, the latest of the most compact member of the Audi family.

Also new to the Audi line-up is the new S3 Cabriolet which completes the high-performance S3 quartet at the top end of the A3 range, sharing the same potent two-litre 300bhp TFSI engine and quattro all-wheel-drive as the three-door, sportback and saloon models.

I got behind the wheel of both new Audis in northern Sweden on a mixture of wet and icy roads where, unfortunately, low speed limits and keen traffic cops meant I couldn't give the fast newcomers from Germany a real try out.

But at the Molanda testing ground we did manage a few laps in the S1 which proved the hatchback, with 231bhp under its bonnet, is a serious piece of kit.

Handling on the twisty track in the new S1 was rock solid thanks to the superb quattro grip and acceleration through its six-speed short-shift gearbox was smooth and effortless.

Top speed is a claimed 155mph, and from standstill to 62mph takes just 5.8 seconds. It's a treat to drive and despite its great performance Audi claims you could achieve around 40mpg on a rather more sedate drive than I undertook.

The ride is firm but comfortable for a car of this type, and road, wind and engine noise are well suppressed. But it also has a delightful rasping exhaust note which adds to the driving experience.

The S1 five-door Sportback version is also no slouch with almost comparable performance figures and both are available to order now priced from £24,900 and £25,630 with deliveries in June.

As with all Audis the new S1 and S1 Sportback are packed with comfort and driver's aids including sports seats, flat-bottomed steering wheel, electronic climate control, a six-speaker CD-audio system with iPod connection and SD card reader linked to a 6-inch retractable colour display, a Bluetooth interface and driver's information system.

Xenon headlights are standard and huge selection of optional extras are also available.

This is a top-class sporting hatch with exceptional handling ability which will appeal to younger drivers.

The new S3 open-topper is the first premium compact Audi cabriolet to wear the S badge and will be ready for delivery in July at a price of around £40,000.

It has been developed on the technical platform of the A3 saloon and shorter wheelbase of the A3 three-door model.

It has a distinctive coupe-like design with long arching roof, short luggage compartment and narrow window surfaces.

It's a really fast cabriolet with a top speed of 155mph and a zero to 62mph time of just 5.4 seconds but it still offers a claimed 40mpg.

Gearing is through the six-speed S tronic box and there is paddle shift on the flat-bottomed multifunctional steering wheel.

Lower sports suspension gives the S3 better grip on corners and the use of light aluminium on much of its bodywork and underpinnings gives the S3 a sports car feel.

The interior is superb, with leather heated seats, pedals and footrest in brushed stainless steel, a boost pressure display in the rev counter and aluminium sill trims with the S3 logo.

Boot space isn't great but there's just enough to pack some weekend gear for two.

The canvas hood opens and closes in less than 18 seconds and can be operated on the move at speeds up to 31mph.

On a brief drive in some pretty windy weather on wet roads I was impressed by the lack of intrusive noise entering the cabin which can be a problem with cabriolets.

They are two useful additions to the Audi range which should do well with drivers who enjoy sporty drives, roof up or down.



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