The new MINI-rivalling A1 hasn’t even hit UK roads yet, but Audi is already working on a barnstorming S1 to go head-to-head with the Cooper S.
These spy shots show an A1 test mule fitted with the S line bodykit which, with the exception of a few minor cosmetic tweaks, provides a good idea of how the hot hatch will shape up.
The test car’s wheels, with their extreme low-profile tyres, will make way for 18-inch twin five-spoke alloys unique to the S1. And to further mark out the newcomer from lesser models, it will get chrome door mirrors, a gloss black diffuser and S1 badges.
Inside, a racy makeover brings bolstered sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a mixture of leather and Alcantara trim as standard. Under the bonnet is a tuned version of the 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine already available in the A1.
This is the same unit as used in the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, VW Polo GTI and Skoda Fabia vRS – but in the hot Audi, power is set to rise from 178bhp to nearer 200bhp. That will guarantee impressive straight-line performance, with 0-62mph completed in less than seven seconds and a top speed in excess of 140mph.
Only one gearbox option will be offered – a seven-speed DSG with steering wheel paddles as standard. In a first for Audi’s S range, the hatch will be available in front-wheel drive only.
Instead of fitting quattro 4WD, the company is relying on an electronic system to improve cornering and grip by braking an inside wheel when the car starts to veer off course. It will also ride 15mm lower to the ground than the standard
A1, on sports suspension.
The S1 will debut at March’s Geneva Motor Show, and is set to go on sale soon after, priced from just under £20,000.