City Slicker

The Garage Long term diaries


A warm welcome to our newest resident

MONTH four


Size makes it a great city car


Gutter rash; not having time to drive it more

MOMENT favourite

Scoring a park that larger cars have to drive past because they donít fit krrcchhh. Itís one of the most shameful noises you can hear in a car, that of alloy wheel scraping against kerb. Itís evidence youíre unfit to hold a licence, that you have failed to master one of drivingís most basic manoeuvres. In the old days, any such misjudgement would be cushioned by a nice fat tyre sidewall, but with todayís oversized rolling stock often protruding beyond the edge of the tyre, mistakes can be costly Ė literally.

Sports SUVs are the worst. Their size and poor vision make them especially susceptible to the odd knock and intricately-carved 22-inch diamondface rims can almost require a second mortgage to replace. Itís why these monsters tend to be parked virtually in the middle of the street, with a gap K y d t w s r to the kerb large enough to park a Suzuki Celerio in.

As youíll be aware, though, my longtermer isnít an enormous Toorak tractor but a tiny city car, which only makes my recent indiscretion all the more embarrassing. In my defence it was one of those old-style kerbs made of huge blocks of stone that jut out into the road, but thatís little consolation with the S1ís passenger-side rear wheel now looking like itís been attacked by rogue sandpaper.

Scuff aside, itís been a quiet month for the S1, however day-to-day driving really plays to its strengths. Its size is one of my favourite things about the car and makes a real difference when searching for a park or squeezing through gaps in traffic that would warrant sharp inhalation, if not be outright impossible, in larger vehicles.

That said, while earlier I described the S1 as ďa tiny city carĒ it isnít actually that small. Itís 56mm wider and 18mm taller than a firstgeneration Subaru WRX, though also 365mm shorter. Thankfully, a 2469mm wheelbase means interior space is still reasonable.

The boot isnít huge at 210 litres, but increases to 860L with the rear seats folded flat, which is enough to accommodate shopping, luggage or even a mountain bike. At 180cm thereís adequate leg, shoulder and headroom (the latter only just) for me to sit comfortably in the rear, though I sit very close to the steering wheel so it might be a squeeze behind those with a more conventional driving position.

The driving position itself is very good and the leather-wrapped wheel feels spot-on in size and thickness

to my hands, though I can never remember which wheel-mounted controls do what and end up just using trial and error until I stumble upon the function or readout I need.

The basic interior architecture of the S1 is five years old, aeons when it comes to Audis, but itís not necessarily a bad thing. If Audiís new Virtual Cockpit Ė found in everything from the new A4 to the R8 Ė is an Xbox One, then the blocky graphics in the centre of the S1ís instruments are akin to a Super Nintendo, but the slate-grey dials look great and are easily read.

Having a separate button for each function might seem quaint in this post-iDrive world, but it makes it easy to remember where all the major functions are and you can tell the interior team spent plenty of time ensuring pressing each button and turning each knob required just the right amount of effort.

One small annoyance is the wheel for scrolling through menus is calibrated back-to-front for righthand drive markets, though a bigger one is the inability to select tracks when playing music via Bluetooth.

You can select the next or previous track, but not individual songs, which is no doubt due to the age of the system (five years is a long time in technology!).

Next month, our little yellow terror heads for the hills. Ė SN

Gutter rash is evidence youíve failed to master one of drivingís most basic manoeuvres