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XCAR: Audi S1: Dawn of the hyperhatch?

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XCAR: Audi S1: Dawn of the hyperhatch?

7:03 /

XCAR has been waiting for a super-hot Audi A1 for years, now there's an S1. It's small, powerful and damn good fun. But is it a hyperhatch?

[MUSIC] Audi released the A1 hatchback in 2010. It looked good, had plenty of toys, and the right badge on its nose. But there was a problem. You see, the most powerful A1 you could get had 180 horsepower. Now, that was enough to keep it in line, with say, the. Just go to [UNKNOWN] But it wasn't enough to warrant an S badge, no that badge was given to the cars with enough grunt to make them truly stand out of the crowd. 4 years later, Audi has finally given the A1 the grunt it needs to become a full front S1. It's got a 231 brake horsepower, 2 liter turbo charged engine and 4 wheel drive. It's also proved me wrong. In 2013 I was lucky enough to drive this super rare Audi A1 quattro. Only 333 were ever made. They all came with 4 wheel drive, only in left hand drive. They had about 250 horsepower and looks to kill. It was absolutely stunning but if anyone ever asked me whether oh, is that the new S1? Well the answer was no. Because well, the new S1 would definitely have a lot less power and it would definitely not have four wheel drive. It would be front wheel drive only and it would have a sensible price tag cuz the A1 [UNKNOWN] costs 40 grand. And it looks like I was quite wrong. Yes, it has a bit less power, but you get more torque than the A1 cuatro 273 pound foot to the rare car's 258. The minor power difference does mean the S1's 5.8 second naught to 62 dash is 0.1 of a second slower. But. Are you really gonna notice? Then there's the front wheel drive thing. The S1 come with a haldex four wheel drive system which is a good, thing. I was also wrong about the price. The basic S1, the three door, is about 24,000 pounds, add around a grand on top of that,. For the five door sport pack that's not too bad for a small very fast Audi. It's about half the price of the a1 itself. However if you're going to be buying a shiny new Audi you're going to want to put toys on it. Things like a Bose sound system. Parking sensors, Jazzy alloys, you can even have your brake calipers painted red. It's around 300 quid. You can quite easily push the price of one of these well above 30 grand. [MUSIC] Then there's the small matter of it's name. S1. Rally fans will know that there was a pretty well known rally car called the Audi S1, and it was awesome. But this is no relation. It's an S version of the Audi A1. Nothing more, nothing less. I loved my time with the A1 Quatro. That much power in such a small package was just bewitching. I would have put the money down any day of the week if I had it. So, how does its mass produced sibling fare in comparison. Listen: he's really, really good. He's really, really, really good. It's just like the A-one Quattro. But a little bit more user-friendly. For example, in the U. K., you can have one with the steering wheel on the correct side. Speaking of the steering, a lot of people have a go howdy because: oh, it's always numb, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's not the most feedback-tacular steering I've ever experienced, but it's not bad. I always know what the wheels are doing, which is kind of the point of it. One of the really good things about this is the gearbox. It's nice. It's smooth. It's easy to use. It's got a light-ish, not too light, but not too heavy clutch attached to it. So it's just, lovely, to shift gears, something I want to do over and over. [UNKNOWN] begin to get wave after wave of all that delicious turbo-boosted torque. And something even cooler about the gearbox is that you can only have one of these in a manual. You can't buy an automatic S1. How good is that? They've made a proper little driver's car. The brakes on this are pretty spectacular if I'm honest. They haven't got that much for stop [UNKNOWN] but the speed it gets up to, oh, my. It's one of those things that's quite difficult to describe, because the last time I drove a normal A1, it had about 170 horsepower or something like that. And it was alright. You have to. Get it a little bit to get it going. And once you were there it was nice and easy, ebbed and flowed and it was all lovely. But this, you laid it to rest, you got about 2,500 RPM and then you get that big push. And it flings you down the road just as big Audi does. But you can't put that kind of power in that kind of power into something that doesn't feel or handle particular. It's gonna be nice. And this is where the S1's party piece come in. Because it's got [INAUDIBLE] wing base and four wheel drive, it feels the right side of fun at any given moment. You can be hurling it around corners and you know it will catch you. It does move around on you a little bit. If you're really giving it some but nothing too extreme. You know there's that safety net and what that encourages you to do is just have more fun. And the noise inside the cabin is great. It's an angry [UNKNOWN] little thing just begging you to drive faster, drive harder. Take that corner just a little bit quicker. It's taken the best bits of the A1 Quatro, and the best bits of lots of other awesome [INAUDIBLE] hatches, and some fast [UNKNOWN]. And condensed it into easily swallowable pill form. It's a great car to look at, too. Audi has made sure the S1 does look like a proper S car. So it has extra vents. And there's 4 exhausts on the back. 4 exhausts. Or in a tiny car. Tiny car, big power, equals fun. [MUSIC] Here's the thing, the S1 is a really good little car, it feels just right where it needs to. I wouldn't say it's a hot hatch though, but maybe, a hyper hatch. Still, if I'd 40K on an A1 cuatro, I might be a little knocked off, but, when you remember you've got all sorts of kick **** stuff on the A1 that you can't get on the S1, the world is all of a sudden,. A little less salty. Also, it's a touch quicker so you've still got top drums on your side. What Andy's done with the S-1 is create something truly wonderful. He's managed to distill all the good bits of a fast Audi into a small car that's brilliant to drive. Wickedly noisy and is confidence inspiring in the hands of those who might not be all that sure about driving quickly. I mean, yeah if you press the one button on just about everything it can get a little bit expensive, but for the experience what's a few quid? [MUSIC]

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