herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

MEET THE POCKET ROCKET HOT HATCH THAT THINKS IT'S A LUXURY SALOON ... the AWESOME S1

It packs more power than a Golf GTi and handles like a supercar.

Even Russian oligarchs can't get enough of the latest pocket rocket that leaves the rest for dead.

Yes, we're talking about none other than the seriously wicked Audi S1.

A quick scan of the spec sheet hints at how savage this little supermini is, with an eye-watering 231bhp, 0-100km in only 5.9 seconds and a top whack of 251kph.

Throw in constant four-wheel drive (Quattro) and you have a serious piece of kit that rarely misbehaves no matter how much you push her. It was a massive gamble that has really paid off.

Audi took everyone, not least its rivals, by surprise when twinning the massively powerful 2.0 litre TFSi engine with its renowned Quattro system in such a small chassis.

The extra weight (125kgs) over the 2.0 litre diesel A1 is simply not an issue despite initial fears that the car wasn't big enough to accommodate such an elaborate set-up.

In fact, it's hard to believe that under its very expensive designer suit the S1 shares the same underpinnings as the VW Polo, with the odd tweak to the suspension and more sophisticated steering rack.

The German designers didn't scrimp on the styling either, and the 5-door Sportback looks even sexier than its two-door brother.

It gets the full 'S' treatment with the customary aluminium wing mirrors, stunning xenon lights with red flashings, honeycomb grille and fog light housings, blown-out side sills and 17-inch, five-spoke alloys and red brake calipers.

At the back is a similar sporting affair with a piano black roof spoiler (matching the roof), flared bumper and quad chrome tail pipes tucked neatly into a snazzy rear diffuser.

Inside, the design and build quality are second to none from the leather, flat-bottomed steering wheel (with red stitching to match the S badge) to the half-leather bucket seats to the pop-up 6.5-inch colour screen housing the infotainment system, giving a luxurious and premium feel.

There are lots of goodies too including Bluetooth, air con, cruise control, parking sensors and interior LED lighting.

But it's all about the drive, which is simply astounding.

From the off, the traction is instant and in your face as the 370Nm of torque piles on the power. Hit Drive Select, slip into Dynamic mode and the party goes up an octave as the steering becomes more taut, the suspension stiffer and the gear ratios longer.

The sheer poke is breath-taking, body control is impeccable and the lack of roll and torque steer is simply awesome.

Granted, the Fiesta ST - although only packing 180bhp from the 1.6 litre - is almost as good to drive and a hell of a lot cheaper, but the Audi is the complete package.

Slip behind the wheel and you can touch, feel and see where your hard-earned cash has been spent.

Prices for the S1 start at €36,970.

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