Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

A FACT of life is good ma­te­rial things usu­ally don't come cheaply.

Like Audi's S1, the hottest and most fun to drive of the present crop of hot hatches.

But you need $50,000 for the priv­i­lege.

Based on the A1 five-door, the small­est of the ex­ten­sive Audi fam­ily, the S1 dif­fers in hav­ing a mighty 2.0litre turbo mo­tor, low­ered sports sus­pen­sion, huge brakes and qu­at­tro all-wheel drive, all of which turn Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood into the wolf. Or a leop­ard, more likely, since the cats can grip and cor­ner much bet­ter than wolves.

So you get a classy hatch more than ca­pa­ble of win­ning its class in Targa West, but at the same time it has seat­ing for four, a rea­son­able boot, good fuel econ­omy, and all the safety and en­ter­tain­ment mod cons of the day.

S1s come with a su­perb sixspeed man­ual trans­mis­sion – no auto avail­able – a multi-speaker au­dio sys­tem, cli­mate con­trol, am­bi­ent light­ing, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, cruise con­trol, sat­nav, head­light wash­ers, auto-on head­lights and wipers, leather seats and steer­ing wheel trim, and park­ing sonar.

Re­vers­ing cam­era? even as an op­tion.

And, like many new cars th­ese days, there's an in­fla­tion kit, but no spare wheel.

How­ever, it's a de­light­ful thing to drive. The en­gine whacks out a mas­sive 170kW/370Nm and the

'Fraid not, so­phis­ti­cated new brakes, sus­pen­sion and steer­ing give it adren­a­line-gen­er­at­ing per­for­mance and road­hold­ing to match.

There are three drive modes, the per­for­mance one en­hanc­ing en­gine and steer­ing re­sponse, and firm­ing the al­ready stiff sus­pen­sion.

The fat tyres on the big wheels give the lit­tle hot­tie a gi­ant foot­print which, in turn, give it in­cred­i­ble sta­bil­ity.

The ride is great for a car of such short wheel­base, but drive over a dis­carded match­stick and you'll feel it.

It's a su­perb pack­age, al­beit ex­pen­sive, and there are var­i­ous op­tions to cus­tomise it. Ours came with 18-inch black al­loys with ma­chined edges, bi-xenon head­lights and red brake calipers. Lovely.

An­other side of the S1's char­ac­ter is that it drives like a regular run­about if you ap­ply just a feather foot on t he ac­cel­er­a­tor. And you'll get 7.1litres/100km.

Pricey, but de­sir­able in the ex­treme.

Ver­dict: Audi's sexy S1 is about as hot as they come.

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