Kkrrcchhh. It’s one of the most shameful noises you can hear in a car, that of alloy wheel scraping against kerb.
It’s evidence you’re unfit to hold a licence, that you have failed to master one of driving’s most basic manoeuvres. In the old days, any such misjudgement would be cushioned by a nice fat tyre sidewall, but with today’s oversized rolling stock often protruding beyond the edge of the tyre, mistakes can be costly – literally.
Sports SUVs are the worst. Their size and poor vision make them especially susceptible to the odd knock and intricately-carved 22-inch diamond-face rims can almost require a second mortgage to replace. It’s why these monsters tend to be parked virtually in the middle of the street, with a gap to the kerb large enough to park a Suzuki Celerio in.
As you’ll be aware, though, my long-termer isn’t 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 that’s little consolation with the S1’s passenger-side rear wheel now looking like it’s been attacked by rogue sandpaper.
Scuff aside, it’s 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 “a tiny city car” it isn’t actually that small. It’s 56mm wider and 18mm taller than a first-generation Subaru WRX, though also 365mm shorter. Thankfully, a 2469mm wheelbase means interior space is still reasonable.
The boot isn’t 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 there’s 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 it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit – found in everything from the new A4 to the R8 – is an Xbox One, then the blocky graphics in the centre of the S1’s 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 right-hand 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.
Liked: Size makes it a great city car
Disliked: Gutter rash; not having time to drive it more
Favourite moment: Scoring a park that larger cars have to drive past because they don’t fit
Fuel this month: 9.1L/100km
Distance this month: 1215km
Want to see more of our Audi S1 long-termer? Check out the below: