Audi A1 TFSI quattro | Spotted

Few cars can make a GR Yaris look ordinary. This is one of them

By Cam Tait / Thursday, 17 August 2023 / Loading comments

One of the sticking points of the Toyota GR Yaris taking home the silverware from our best hot hatch of the last 25 years poll was that, according to some, a ‘proper’ hot hatch must be front-wheel drive. Granted, the GR edging out the Renaultsport Clio 182 Trophy certainly came as a bit of a shock, but when you live in a country where the roads are greasy 75 per cent of the year, all-wheel drive allows you to get a lick on without constantly lighting up the front wheels. Which, we can all agree, is rather convenient. 

So I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m rather fond of hot hatches that send power across both axles, especially when they come with some sort of rallying pedigree. We all know that the GR Yaris started life as a homologation special before a regulation change in the WRC meant road-going versions of the rally machines were no longer needed. Still, Toyota has managed to shift all 25,000, meaning that everyone and their dog now owns one. That’s no bad thing, of course; it’s popular for many very good reasons. But if you want an all-wheel drive hot hatch that stands out from the crowd, with an (admittedly very light) dash of WRC heritage, then this Audi A1 TFSI quattro may be of interest.

While it wasn’t conceived with a rally programme in mind, the A1 quattro does boast a fascinating origin story. It was an after-hours project, built to prove that Audi’s 2.5-litre turbo five and quattro system could be shoehorned into the firm’s humble hatch. The result was the one-off Clubsport quattro, which proved so popular at the 2011 Wörtherseetour car fest that a production car was given the greenlight, albeit with some significant alterations.

The big difference was that the inline-five was dropped in favour of VAG’s EA113 (which powers PH Project Car), albeit with an output hike to 256hp and 258lb ft of torque, and relocated back to its rightful home under the bonnet having been moved to the middle for the clubsport. This meant the rear seats could be reinstated, though the carbon trim and bucket seats were sacrificed to likely prevent costs from spiralling ever higher. Remember, this was a £40,000 when new in 2012, which is roughly £55,000 in today’s money – or about the same as a fully-loaded VW Golf R.

Of course, the quattro’s upgrades go far beyond an off-the-shelf all-wheel-drive system and chunkier engine. Not only were extensive modifications needed to accommodate the all-wheel drive system – including a new multi-link rear suspension – it also threw in a carbon prop shaft for good measure. Then there’s the radical body kit, with new bumpers, skirts and a taller rear wing. But you’ll be too busy staring at the bespoke fan wheels to notice, which offer a modern twist on the designs used by the old Quattro rally cars.

Audi produced 333 examples, only 19 of which were destined for the UK. It was never offered in right-hand drive, which just shows that it was intended as a skunkworks project from the beginning. True, it did lay the groundwork for the S1 hot hatch, but that was produced in far greater numbers and didn’t come with those wheels or quite as much power. As you’d expect for something so rare, the A1 has enjoyed a healthy dose of appreciation, with this example listed at £59,920. That’s a lot, even by today’s hot hatch standards. But this is clearly a very special pocket rocket, to the point where it makes a GR Yaris look positively unassuming. For a diehard Audi fan, it’ll be well worth it.


Engine: 1,998cc four-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 256@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@2,500rpm
MPG: 33.2
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 2012
Recorded mileage: 40,000
Price new: £40,000
Yours for: £59,920

 See the full advert here

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