Sports cars are, generally, thought of as having a front mounted engine, driving the rear wheels and no roof. That’s certainly not untrue, however, there’s plenty that offer the same ability and experience with different drivetrains and a different look.
A Wheel Thing looks at an all wheel drive sports car with a roof, the Audi S1 Quattro Sportback.
It’s a lusty 2.0L turbo, pumping out 170 kW and an impressive 370 Newton metres of torque. Combined with a six speed manual and pushing power to all four corners and a selectable drive system which adjusts engine tuning and suspension, it’ll sprint to 100 kmh in a tick under six seconds and top out at an electronically limited 250 kmh.Power comes in at a peaky 6000 rpm but the engine’s party piece is the linear delivery of that monstrous torque: it’s mesa flat from 1600 to 3000 revs, allowing scintillating acceleration under way and back bending launches off the line, with a short throw gear selector providing rapid punching through the six forward ratios.
Along the way, the engine throws out surprising fuel economy, with Audi quoting for the five door hatch 7.3L of 95 RON being consumed for every 100 kilometres for the combined cycle (9.3L for suburban and 6.0L for the highway). It needs that economy as the S1 can only squeeze in a 45L tank.
The S1 manages to cram this performance into a sub four metre long vehicle; at 3975 mm it’s in no danger of being considered a big car yet manages to tempt drivers with a 2469 mm wheelbase, big for a small car. It’s broader than what the looks suggest,with a total width (including the overly stubby mirrors) of 1906 mm, or 1740 mm sans reflectors. Height is just 1417 mm.The car provided came clad in Misano Red and Brilliant Black, an eyecatching combination. Rolling stock was a grippy set of 225/35 tyres wrapping five arm facet design alloys at 18 inches in diameter, hiding red painted brake callipers. There’s a spoiler at the rear of the roof line and Quattro stickers adorning the lower part of the rear doors.Audi’s signature “koala nose” grille sit proudly between the Xenon headlights and LED driving lights at the front whilst a subtle alloy strip highlights an air intake at the lower extremity, with the rear featuring a sports diffuser at the bottom, housing four chromed tips for the sports tuned exhaust. Sitting above them is a piano black strip with LED powered brake and night lights, looking like a pair of demonic eyes at night.The five door weighs 25 kilos more than the three door Sportback, at 1390 kilos against 1415 kilos.
On The Inside.
Yes, it’s compact inside but not as tight as you’d think. The main issue here is rear seat legroom, with a person of average height sitting in the front seats needing to move their well appointed and supportive pews back enough that the plastic backed seats compromise, drastically, any real leg space there was.Interior trim is muted; there’s grey leather for the seats, black plastic abounds apart from the body coloured trim on the backs of the front seats and on the centre console surrounding the gear lever. There’s also red piping highlighting the alloy look airvents whilst alloy also raises the profile of the interior door handles, pedals, aircon, exterior wing mirrors and the upper surrounds of the red console.Mounted in the top centre of the dash is Audi’s infotainment screen; in true Audi style it takes some getting used to as it’s operated by a dial and buttons in the console immediately forward of the slick shifting gear lever. The dial (and a button) rotate through navigation, audio and settings; it’s not exactly intuitive but becomes easy to use after a bit of practice.
It’s a 6.5 inch screen, with the navigation screen proffering plenty of information. There’s a hard drive to store music plus two SD card slots for media as well, plus Bluetooth audio streaming on board. Audio quality was high, with clear and punchy bass underpinning a fairly well defined soundstage. The tech continues in offering a wifi hotspot, local petrol stations and apps.The seatbelt mounts for the front seats are awkwardly mounted and located, close to the pivot point for the centre console are rest that folds up. The rest gets in the way of the left elbow and the mounts themselves are not easy to slot the belt latch in to, with adult hands feeling claustrophobic trying to slot the mechanism in. Also, the rear vision mirror is simply too small to really be considered safe.The dash itself is simple, legible and hints at the family linkage that Audi has with a couple of other Euro makers, with a monochrome centre screen flanked by two large dials in the binnacle holding the tacho and temperature on the left and speedo and fuel gauge on the right.
The column has indicators on the left, wiper controls from both front and rear windows plus headlights whilst a third column makes it messy with the cruise control. This could and should be relocated to the spokes.
Interior fit and finish is highly specced with nary a squeak or out of place noise. What was “out of place” was the larger than expected battery located rear and centre in the boot, underneath the 210L cargo space. Spare wheel? Um. No.
On The Road.
The strength of the S1 is its powerhouse engine. That incredible flexibility brought on by the torque, couple with the smooth, close ratio, six speed manual, make it a doddle to drive around town, with an easy progression through to fifth before reaching 60 kmh. The clutch is light but not vaguely so, giving enough feedback through the travel to let the driver know when it’s in or out of gear in changes.Acceleration is gentle when needed, ferocious when required, with that all paw delivery working hand in hand with the Pirelli rubber to rocket the S1 along at any speed and with an indecent amount of confidence in its handling. The low ride height and centre of gravity work together beautifully, “spoiled” only by the suspension that has the S1 sitting as flat as a pancake and has as much give as one, as well.
Under way, overtaking is done as easily as breathing. It’s either a gear or two back or a simple press of the right foot, depending on current and desire velocity. It certainly winds up nicely enough, either way, surprising a few people in bigger engined cars as to how the gap between them and the S1 suddenly went to a yawning chasm.The suspension is taut, very taut, with the barest compliance initially to absorb undulations but it dislikes any bumps bigger than a five cent piece. However, it’s a sports car so it’s part of the package. The location of the battery to rear also helps with the balance of the car, with the S1 being able to change direction in a blink with fear of the front and rear wishing to go AWOL….a shortish wheelbase in the context of the car’s size didn’t hurt either.
The 2016 Audi S1 has an impressive engine and gearbox, a sports car ride, manages to provide enough room for one or two people and can be specced with many options (click here:http://www.audi.com.au/dam/ngw/au/model_brochures/a1/s1_sportback/s1_sportback_model_brochure.pdf)
It’s certainly a car for a driver that likes to DRIVE a car, rather than be a passenger in “D” world and really suits a single person or a couple as the lack of truly flexible rear leg room places shackles on it being a family friendly car. The overall economy, Audi’s quality, the sheer exhilaration that engine and gearbox imbue, along with the sure-footedness the quattro drive train provides, will appeal to many but only a few will truly appreciate the depth of ability and talent the S1 has.
Backed by a three year and unlimited kilometre warranty as standard (Audi do offer an extended warranty) there’s plenty of peace of mind as well
Head to www.audi.com.au for info on all Audi products.
The Car: Audi S1 Quattro Sportback.
Engine: 2.0L, four cylinder.
Fuel: 95 RON.
Power/Torque: 170 Kw/370 Nm @ 6000/1600-3000 rpm.
Economy: 9.3L/6.0L/7.3L per 100 km, urban/highway/combined.
Transmission: six speed manual, all wheel drive.
Dimensions (L x W x H in mm): 3975 x 1906 x 1423.
Wheels/Tyres (as fitted): 225/35 on 18 inch alloys.
Warranty: three years, unlimited kilometres.