OUR affection for fast luxury cars shows no sign of slowing, and Audi has just released the S1 Sportback to inspire a new generation of fans.
Starting from $49,900, the Audi S1 is the cheapest of the four-ring performance line-up.
Under the bonnet is a meaty 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine tuned to pump out 170kW and 370Nm.
That can fire the little hatch from standstill to 100kmh in 5.9 seconds.
Among the basic kit is suede and leather seat trim, cruise control, sat nav with a pop-up colour screen, Audi drive select with three different modes (dynamic, efficient and automatic), 17-inch alloys, flat-bottom sports steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and a 180-watt 10-speaker sound system with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
There are three packages available to improve the appeal inside and out: S Performance $4990, Quattro interior $2490 and Quattro exterior $3990.
S Performance comes with sport seats wrapped in Nappa leather trim and S1 embossing, 465 watt Bose surround sound, air vents with an aluminium look, 18-inch alloys and red brake calipers.
Quattro exterior package includes Xenon headlights with red trim, red brake calipers, roof spoiler, Quattro logo on the rear doors, front splitter with aluminum look and five-arm 18-inch alloys.
With the Quattro interior group it gets the same leather sports seats but with glossy back rests and console available in three colours, matching contrasting stitching on the steering wheel, red inner rings on the air vents and floor mats with double piping.
On track for its 10th consecutive year of growth, Audi is forecast to sell more than 19,000 cars in Australia this year.
While all three German brands are rising in passenger car sales, the four rings are climbing faster than Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Audi Australia’s Andrew Doyle said this latest introduction of the brand’s most affordable sports model was a simple decision.
“That is due very much due to Australia’s love affair with sports and performance cars,” he said.
“The raw sales numbers are one way to appreciate that growth. In just under three years for the Audi brands these performance models have gone from less than 3% of our overall volume in 2012 to 14% year to date, which is even further exacerbated by the fact we have been growing significantly in overall sales terms.
“That trend looks set to continue with more outstanding product on its way.”
Soon to be sitting in the Audi arrivals hall is the S3 Cabriolet, which will be followed next year by the TTS Coupe and Roadster, along with updated versions of the S6, RS6, S7 and RS7.
With the ever-growing range, Mr Doyle is not shying away from the company’s ambition to be number one.
“We don’t intend to remain in third position of the German premium brands,” he said.
“We do believe in the next two to three years we will get to position number two and our longer term objective is be number one premium brand in Australia.
“That is in volume terms but equally important is key strategic fundamentals of employee satisfaction, top customer service in the marketplace and sustainable growth with continued dealer profitability for reinvestment in the future.”
Australia is number 14 on Audi’s world sales chart, climbing four places in the past year, and are only just behind South Africa which holds a slender advantage in slot 13.
Model: Audi S1 Sportback.
Details: Three-door all-wheel drive performance hatchback.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 170kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 370Nm @ 1600-3000rpm.
Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 5.9 seconds.
Bottom line: $49,900.