Review: Audi S1 (2014 – 2018)

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Rapid version of the A1 powered by 231PS 2.0 turbocharged engine. Quattro four-wheel drive means immense traction. High quality feel. Understated looks.

Fast but other hot hatches are more enjoyable to drive. Bouncy ride.

Audi S1 (2014 – 2018): At A Glance

Following the launch of the A1 in 2010 it was no surprise to see a performance version of the smallest Audi model follow soon after. But what has come as a surprise is how much power Audi has given the S1. While the similar Polo GTI has a 1.4 turbocharged engine, Audi fitted a far more powerful 2.0 TFSI petrol in the S1.

With a hefty 231PS it boasts even more power than a Volkswagen Golf GTI and a 0-62mph time of just 5.8 seconds. Yet despite that it's relatively economical with an official figure of 40.3mpg, although if you're heavy with your right foot, you'll be very unlikely to see anywhere near that.

The other surprise was the addition of quattro four-wheel drive. Originally the A1 was deemed too small to accommodate a quattro system, although it does come with quite a weight gain - the S1 comes in at 125kg more than an A1 2.0 TDI. However, the quattro system makes a big difference with much improved traction, especially from slow corners.

From a standstill the S1 can feel a little light at the front during flat out acceleration, but the hatch redeems itself when it comes to in-gear acceleration thanks to 370Nm of torque. It means the S1 is very much at home on the motorway without the usual noise that accompanies a hot hatch at higher speeds. Only the bouncy ride lets it down.

Of course the S1 is really designed for twisting roads and here it excels. The suspension has been changed along with the steering, to a more responsive set-up. The result is a tight turn into corners and great traction out of them, while there's little body roll thanks to the stiffer suspension. Few hot hatches this size feel as composed.

It's certainly more grown up than your run-of-the-mill hot hatch, but while the S1 feels very sophisticated it does lack that sense of enjoyment you find in cheaper performance hatchbacks. Don't get us wrong - this is a very capable and impressively fast hatch - but it doesn't quite have the x-factor.

Audi S1 Sportback Road Test

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Audi S1 (2014 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3975 mm
Width 1906 mm
Height 1417–1423 mm
Wheelbase 2469 mm

Full specifications

The standard A1 has one of the best small car interiors around, both in terms of quality and design, so the S1 already has a good base to build from. There are key changes including a flat-bottomed steering wheel and half leather upholstery as standard, both with red stitching.

There are also bespoke S1 instrument dials, aluminium pedals and lots of extra gloss trim including the option of a red gloss finish around the gear lever and air vents. As usual with Audi design, everything has an understated quality to it - this is every inch a premium hot hatch.

The driving position is good, even for taller drivers, thanks to plenty of adjustment in the seat and the steering column. Of course given its compact dimensions it's no surprise that rear passenger room is limited - even in the Sportback - and basically non-existent if you have both front seats slid all the way back. But the boot is reasonable at 210 litres and will carry a surprising amount - easily enough for a weekend away.

All round visibility is good making the S1 easy to park in tight spots while on the motorway there's little wind or road noise, making it relatively relaxing on long journeys. Although the bouncy ride always reminds you that you're in a hot hatch.

Given the price tag, it's no surprise to see a high level of standard equipment including climate control, Bluetooth and an iPod connection. The main functions are controlled through a 6.5-inch colour screen that sits on top of the dash. It's starting to look a little dated compare to the tablet-style screens many manufacturers are introducing ands the display isn't that sharp but on the plus side it's very easy to use and the screen neatly folds down when not in use.

Child seats that fit a Audi S1 (2014 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Audi S1 (2014 – 2018) like to drive?

The S1 doesn't exactly shout about its performance credentials from the rooftops. In fact aside from the telltale four exhausts at the back, there's little to mark this out from a standard A1.

There are a few styling tweaks though such as the bespoke 17-inch wheels and LED rear lights plus of course if you want to go all out there's the option of Vegas Yellow or Sepang Blue paintwork.

It's under the bonnet where the S1 does its talking. It is powered by a 2.0 TFSI engine with 231PS and in a car that weighs just 1315kg that means rapid performance. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 5.8 seconds (fractionally more in the Sportback version) although away from a standstill the S1 does feel a little light at the front end.

There are no issues with traction though thanks to the quattro four-wheel drive system and an electronic differential. The S1 never scrabbles for grip and is superb out of a slow corner, accelerating with no fuss. In high speeds corners it's equally as impressive with good stability and plenty of confidence-inspiring composure.

The S1 is so good it's easy to think this is a bigger car similar to the S3. But the ride soon reminds you that this is a small car with a shorter wheelbase. It's bouncy, even in its most comfortable setting while if you alter the settings through the Audi drive select system to the most dynamic set-up, it's not enjoyable on anything other than perfectly smooth tarmac.

That doesn't detract from the fact the S1 is good on the motorway though. Unlike many hot hatches, it's not buzzy or noisy at speed, helped by a long sixth gear and lots of torque with 370Nm. Given Audi has an affinity for giving its performance cars S tronic automatic gearboxes as standard, it's nice to see the S1 only coming with a manual gearbox. The six-speed transmission has a short shift and lovely positive changes.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 TFSI 40–40 mpg 5.6–5.8 s 162–166 g/km
2.0 TFSI Sportback 39–40 mpg 5.7–5.9 s 166–168 g/km

Real MPG average for a Audi S1 (2014 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

25–36 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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