Audi’s S series cars first broke cover in 1990 in the shape of an Audi 80, designated the S2 coupe. The S2 was fitted with a 2.2-litre 20 valve, 5 cylinder turbocharged engine which produced 217 bhp. This was coupled to a 5-speed transmission and 4WD drivetrain known as Quattro, one of the S series cars signatures.
The S2 was a huge success and since then, there has been a string of S and RS variants of Audi cars.
Fast forward a few years and i find myself sitting in the driver’s seat of one of the current crop of S series cars, the S1.
Audi’s S1 is the smallest and most affordable end of the S series cars. A brand new S1 starts at £27,615.00 ROTR.
It’s hard to know what to compare the S1 to; Golf R? Nope, too much money, too big and too fast. Polo GTi? Not quite, it’s only 2wd, 30bhp less and £6k cheaper. Mini JCW perhaps? Maybe, It’s got 230bhp but is only fwd like the Polo.
Regardless of competitors, The S1 is a great package. 4WD, 6 speed manual gearbox, 230bhp / 370Nm torque from a 2.0L EA888 2.0 litre turbo four cylinder engine and 155 mph limited top speed.
Audi build them strong and the S1 is no exception. It fairly unremarkable inside but solid and well built. Leather shell back bucket seats look very good and do a great job of supporting driver and passenger and the controls are well placed. You certainly feel you are in a driver’s car.
My only criticism was the size. Obviously it’s a small car, but for me as a grown up carrying too many kg’s, it was almost too small.
I expected the short 4WD chassis would understeer, particularly in the wet but i was in for a surprise. This little pocket rocket has outrageous amounts of grip. You can push and push and it won’t let go.
If you abuse it, you are rewarded with some nice, predictable oversteer, great fun in such a small package.
Audi’s S1 is a lot of fun and very capable. Being permanent 4WD I expected it to push on it corners, understeer spoiling the fun but it seems to have a RWD bias which is great fun.
Pulling out of a junction or accelerating out of a tight corner, a heavy right foot can prompt the tail to kick out. You have to be particularly aggressive as there’s loads of grip and 230bhp isn’t always enough to unstick it.
Talking of power, that really is the ace up the S1’s sleeve.
We’ve mentioned how well built it is and how nice the interior is, we’ve told you how capable it is and how much grip it has. 230bhp is enough to make the S1 fun, but it’s not serious power, but don’t fear, you’re in good hands.
The EA888 2.0 litre turbo four cylinder engine is an brilliant unit. It’s the same engine fitted to lots of other hot VAG cars, such as the Golf R, and we all know how quick that it.
Potential is one of this cars strengths. Why didn’t they just unlock the potential from stock? Well, who would buy any other S car in the range then?
Standard power from the S1 is 230bhp but with a stage 1 map that jumps to 320bhp. The only modification suggested is an uprated clutch, other than that it’s all still standard.
From here, the sky’s the limit. I know some guys running the same engine in Golf R’s that produce huge BHP. One is running well over 500bhp. It seems the limit is your bank balance.
An Audi S1 with stage 1 tune, running 320BHP through that awesome chassis would be a very hard car to beat.