Audi will build just 333 of these potent little A1 quattros.
Audi will build just 333 of these potent little A1 quattros.

Rather than just following the 'S' or 'RS' body kit clone with the most potent version of its A1 compact, Audi has turned to its rally heritage.

With its Glacier White 'turbine design' 18-inch alloys and large, two-colour rear wing, Audi wants this to look like the rally car it's more than capable of being and perhaps inspire some fond memories of its world-beating Quattro rally car of the '80s.

Audi unashamedly calls the new A1 quattro the “new head of the compact class” and there will be little disputing that once looking under the bonnet.

Ingolstadt engineers have installed the Audi S3's potent direct injection 2-litre turbopetrol engine, which shoves out 188kW at 6000rpm and 350Nm between 2500 and 4500rpm.

Its power is channelled to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via a six-speed manual transmission, allowing it to screech from 0-100km/h in just 5.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 245km/h, according to Audi.

During normal driving, the multi-plate clutch sends most of the engine's power to the front wheels. If traction becomes a problem, the clutch can transfer torque steplessly to the rear axle.

Audi has also put some proper effort into the suspension, replacing the standard A1's rear torsion beam with a more sophisticated four-link design. The electrohydraulic power steering system also boasts a more direct steering ratio of 14.8:1.

The brakes are beefed up too and though the ESP stability system remains, it has a sport mode that allows this electro-nanny to be switched off completely.

The A1 quattro is available only in Glacier White body paint, with the roof painted in high-gloss black. This black colour treatment can also be seen on the grille and rear hatch - again evoking that rally car vibe.

The blackness continues inside as the dominant colour theme. Here you'll find Silk Nappa leather sports seats with contrasting red seams, flat-bottom steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedal caps and various aluminium trim bits and quattro badges.

It's not roughing it in the spec department, however, the quattro packing in a full infotainment package with MMI navigation plus, internet connectivity and a 465W Bose sound system with 14 speakers.

Killer performance, rally handling and gadgets galore - this A1 has it all, but it's not going to be a common sight on the roads.

Audi is going to build just 333 of them and we're still awaiting word on whether any of these have been allocated to South Africa.