The diminutive new pocket rocket is powered by a highly strung 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 170kW and 370Nm, which is mated exclusively to a six-speed manual gearbox - there's no auto, and Audi Australia says they've not heard of one in the works, either.
Thanks to its standard quattro all-wheel drive, Audi claims the S1 can sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.9-seconds, on to a top speed of 250km/h - making it the fastest vehicle in its class. Official fuel use for the combined cycle is 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres, and engine stop-start is standard.
The production S1 Sportback quattro bears more than a passing resemblance to the A1 Clubsport quattro show car revealed at the 2011 Wörthersee tour meet in Austria. That vehicle showcased the A1 variant with Audi’s quattro AWD system and a six-speed transmission as is seen now seen in the S1.
Under the bonnet is an all-new engine that features numerous high-tech improvements to assist in developing more power, more efficiently, with less emissions. There’s an efficient valve lift system, innovative thermal management throughout the engine both internally and externally, and an extractor system that is partly housed in the engine block to get exhaust gas temperature up quickly and aid with warm up in cold weather. It will also, via the use of the engine coolant, keep exhaust gas temperature at the right level in warmer weather too, and all internal components have been designed and coated specifically to aid in thermal efficiency.
The rather large turbo (for a small engine, anyway) can run up to 1.4-bar and an electronic sound actuator at the tailpipe is bought to life by switching into ‘Dynamic’ mode, with the aim of giving the S1 a more sporting (read: louder) exhaust note.
The electro-mechanical power steering has been tuned to deliver as much feedback as possible, while being easy to use around town, but firm enough when the speed increases on twisty roads. The Audi Drive Select system is also standard, with three modes available - Auto, Efficient and Dynamic.
The S1 Sportback is 25mm lower overall than the A1 model on which it is based, with a more dynamic spring and damper combination. Chassis balance is no doubt aided by a 60:40 weight split front to rear.
A kerb weight of 1340 kilograms, wheels as close to the corners of the chassis as possible and a relatively short wheelbase promise spirited handling performance for enthusiastic drivers. The model's S-specific styling ensures the S1 Sportback quattro will stand out among the sea of not-quite-so-special A1s around town, with alloy-look trim highlights, quad tailpipes and neat exterior detailing.
Bi-xenon headlights and LED tail-lights are standard, as is an oversized rear spoiler, while the base wheel fitment is an attractive 17-inch alloy, wrapped in 215/40/R17 tyres, while 18-inch alloy wheels are available as part of an option pack and come fitted with 225/35/R18 tyres.
Inside, there’s climate control air conditioning, Audi MMI (including a 6.5-inch screen and 20Gb hard drive), Navigation Plus, and sports seats trimmed in cloth/leather.
The S1 Sportback is well equipped, though there's some crucial gear it misses out on. There’s the aforementioned lack of an automatic gearbox option; no reverse-view camera (not even an option); and no spare tyre as the S1 only gets a repair inflation kit in the boot and the battery sits where the spare would normally be. Reverse parking sensors are standard, but the uprated ‘Audi parking system plus’ - with front and rear sensors - costs $600.
Audi has tried to simplify the often daunting options scenario for buyers by grouping the S1 Sportback options into packs. There’s an S Performance Pack, a quattro exterior package and a quattro interior package.
The S Performance Pack costs $4990 and includes S sport seats, fine Nappa leather trim with S1 embossing, a Bose surround sound system, aluminium-look air vent sleeves, 18-inch alloy wheels in contrasting grey finish, and S design red brake calipers.
The quattro exterior package will set you back $3990 and comes with xenon headlights with red trim, S Design red brake calipers, 18-inch alloy wheels in contrasting matte black finish, quattro roof spoiler, quattro logo on the rear side doors and a front spoiler lip with aluminium look.
Finally, the quattro interior package costs $2490 and includes a centre console (in either high-gloss black, red or yellow), S sport front seats in fine Nappa leather (with back rest cover in either high gloss black, red or yellow with quattro logo), door armrests in fine Nappa leather with contrasting stitching, flat-bottom multifunction sport steering wheel upholstered in leather with S-specific stitching, air vent sleeves in high gloss black with red inner ring and floor mats in black with contrasting double piping.
2015 Audi A1/S1 pricing (plus on-road costs):
A1 1.2 TFSI Attraction - $26,500
A1 1.4 TFSI Attraction - $32,250
A1 1.6 TDI Attraction - $32,250
A1 1.4 TFSI Ambition - $35,800
A1 1.4 TFSI Sport - $39,900
S1 2.0 TFSI - $49,990