Hot hatch makes Audi

S club seven

Audi S1 Sportback quattro, rear
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, rear, action
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, side
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, side, static
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, front, action
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, dials
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, interior
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, badge
Audi S1 Sportback quattro, wheels
Audi S1 quattro, front, action
Audi S1 quattro, rear
Audi S1 quattro, side
Audi S1 quattro, interior
Audi S1 quattro, boot

COMPETITION in the hot hatch zone is getting serious as Audi launches its smallest ever quattro.

The new S1 is a pocket rocket in every way firing 230 horsepower from a two-litre turbo petrol engine.

It is breathtakingly punchy with huge amounts of grunt on tap from anywhere in its six speed gearbox.

In terms of sheer performance it blows away alternatives such as the MINI John Cooper Works, the Golf GTI and even the incredible Ford Fiesta ST.

Top speed is 155mph, 0 to 60 flashes up in less than six seconds and with a delightful balance now helped by independent rear suspension the S1 delivers in every way.

Let it loose on regular roads and the S1 produces one or the finest drives around with masses of power seemingly available from anywhere in the rev band.

It is as agile and nimble as the Fiesta ST and that is no mean achievement but while it outstrips the Ford for power, when it comes to all round fun the S1 is a close second.

Seldom have there been two hot hatches of such calibre on sale simultaneously although as to be expected from Audi its offering is not cheap.

It may have the benefit of added grip from the quattro all wheel drive set up but even in three door guise the S1 costs from £24,906 and the five door £25,635 - and that's in raw form.

Add some extras such as sat nav, cruise control and folding door mirrors and the five door S1 Sportback we drove tipped the scales just shy of £29,500.

Compared to the hot Fiesta that is a significant lot more and the Ford has more of a racy appeal.

The S1 may be decked out with alloys, spoilers, silver capped door mirrors and a quad exhaust system but it is quite conservative when it comes to looks.

Inside you get sporty touches such as grey faced dials, a flat bottomed steering wheel and nicely stitched upholstery emblazoned with S1 logos.

It is an intimate cockpit with a straightforward layout and that helps make the car great to drive with the steering well weighted and the gear shifts slick.

A multi-mode drive system allows the car to be configured for firmer sports motoring or a more gentle set up and despite the splendid performance the S1 is not that thirsty.

Audi claims 39.8mpg with emissions of 166g/km and we averaged 33.9 to the gallon without restraining any of the horses.

Fire up this quattro and the needles on the rev counter and speedo flick round to the stops and there's a nice potent roar from the exhausts.

It conveys the performance pedigree of all Audi S models which with the arrival of the baby S1 now number seven with derivatives stretching right through the brand's range  of cars right up to the flagship S8 which costs a cool £79,900 - without extras.

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