Photographers have very recently caught on film for the first time what seems to be the new Audi RS1. The car was spotted both on the Nurburgring track (which has become a proper hunting ground for spy shooters by now) and on regular roads in the surrounding areas.
Quattro Gmbh (the well known Audi’s subsidiary specialized in spicing-up Audi cars) is currently testing RS5 Cabrio and RS7 prototypes, therefore it is not much of a surprise to see a RS version of the A1 model around these days. The lack of camouflage doesn’t leave much to the imagination though: the huge wing on the hatchback door is arguably its most evident feature, but we also notice wider side skirts as well as two massive exhaust pipes placed at the two sides of the diffuser.
Although there is no official confirmation on the matter, the RS1 is expected to come with a 250hp turbo charged 4-cylinder engine and it will - of course - have Quattro’s all-wheel drive system.
View the full Audi RS1: spy shots at the Nurburgring photo gallery
When the Audi A1 first came out, I was prepared to think it was a cool little Mini fighter on the European car market that could really work for Audi. That was until they slapped in a 1.2-litre engine at launch date and it was all over for me there. Either that, or Europeans are still loyal to what is often considered the original Audi compact - the A3 - because A1 sales have so far been a little disappointing.
According to Car and Driver though, the Audi S1 will fix things in the performance department, as they interpret the A1 with its current horsepower as a more expensive version of other VW group models. In fact, their very words are: “It’s the most expensive and the only premium iteration of a platform that is shared with mundane vehicles like the Škoda Fabia, the SEAT Ibiza, and the ubiquitous VW Polo.”
We’re not sure that’s the reason for the weak A1 sales and we don’t really know where to start in proffering a hypothesis as with Mini sales still raging in Europe, you’d think there would be room for a premium compact in the hearts of Audi fans and non. Car and Driver points out that the quickest Audi A1 is still only 5 hp more powerful than a Fabia RS, Ibiza Cupra and Polo GTI so perhaps that is the reason.
The Audi S1 should reportedly get the Volkswagen GTI 2.0-litre TFSI engine and about 225 hp. It could prove to be the real Mini fighter (we’re talking JCW competition) with Quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. And apparently an even hotter RS1 could be on the cards for the future. So while Audi was counting on a stylish premium feel to get its A1 sold, it looks like sheer performance might come to the rescue instead. The only thing that might kill it off is price, but generally speaking Audi buyers aren’t too concerned about that.