The S1 Quattro lives again! Audi is set to resurrect the name of its firebreathing world rally champ from the Eighties for a spectacular performance flagship of the A1. And purists neednít worry Ė because the newcomer will pack plenty of power, style and, of course, the quattro four-wheel-drive system that made the original such a success.
Audi had considered using the name for the 182bhp 1.4 T version of the A1, revealed at the recent Paris Motor Show. But it backtracked at the last minute, fearing that the modelís two-wheel-drive layout would put off customers loyal to the brand.
Instead, bosses have decided to develop a new S1 alongside the Polo R, which is being readied by VWís performance division in Germany. The cars will share underpinnings, to keep costs down, while VW may also add the scaled-down four-wheel-drive technology to its rugged CrossPolo and subsidiary Skodaís Fabia Scout to further increase economies of scale.
But the full, sophisticated version of the quattro system will be reserved for the S1. And the car will continue Audiís recent push to use innovations from its larger models on smaller products Ė the S1ís 4WD will have the option of the torque vectoring rear sport differential from the S4 and RS5, which promises agile handling.
Engine choices are still being considered, although the 1.4 TFSI from the current flagship wonít be used. Instead, to distance the S1 from the rest of the line-up, Audi is likely to employ one of the VW Groupís larger petrol turbos, which currently power the Golf GTI in 2.0-litre form and the top-spec Skoda Yeti in 1.8-litre tune.
A further option is a new 1.6-litre unit. Audi has already said it wonít return to rallying, but VW is planning an entry with a car prepared by a new team set up by Spanish former WRC ace Carlos Sainz. This is likely to be based on the Polo R, and as the sportís rules dictate that cars be powered by a 1.6-litre turbo, the engine from this model could make it into the S1.
The Audi is likely to deliver around 240bhp Ė more than the 208bhp of the MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works Ė and offer scorching performance. The sprint from 0-62mph should take around six seconds, and top speed will be limited to 155mph. A choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed S tronic gearboxes will be available.
Despite the fireworks under the bonnet, the S1 wonít look vastly different to the 1.4 TSI. It will get a unique, deeper front bumper, more pronounced wheelarches to fit larger alloys, a gloss black rear diffuser and special badging. Two-tone paint will also be offered.
The high-spec interior boasts sports seats and a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, plus drilled pedals and carbon fibre trim. The S1 is expected to debut as a concept later next year, before going on sale in 2012, with an anticipated starting price of around £25,000.