Audi has created a wild 496bhp version of its entry-level A1 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Wörthersee festival, held in Reifnitz, Austria for Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen fans.
Called the Audi A1 clubsport quattro, the one-off show car gains a heavy dose of rally car-inspired styling that is said to preview the appearance of a hot new four-wheel drive S1 quattro model that is being developed by Audi as a rival to the likes of the Renaultsport Clio.
At the heart of the new hatchback is a heavily tweaked version of Audi's turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder powerplant, shoehorned transversely into the A1's compact engine bay.
In standard guise, as seen in the Audi TT-RS and Audi RS3, the direct-injection unit delivers a sturdy 330bhp — or 148bhp more than the most powerful production version of the A1 up to now, the 182bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder 1.4TFSI.
But for the A1 clubsport quattro, the five-cylinder engine gains added boost pressure, a larger intercooler and a redesigned exhaust, among other unspecified modifications that see output rise by 166bhp to a supercar-like 496bhp; enough to endow the 1390kg hatchback with a power-to-weight ratio of 356.8bhp/tonne, no less.
Torque has also risen by a substantial 229lb ft — or 47 per cent — over the standard unit, peaking at 487lb ft between 2500 and 5300rpm.
Drive is delivered to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox and a modified version of the TT RS's multi-plate clutch, Haldex-style four-wheel drive system - a set-up that is already earmarked to appear on the A1 quattro and tested by Autocar earlier this year.
Although Audi is quick to play down the relevance of the A1 clubsport quattro's engine to the rest of the A1 line-up, there's no denying its potency in a car of such compact dimensions. Factory claims put its 0-62mph time at just 3.7sec, making it faster up the strip than all of its existing production cars, bar the 560bhp naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10-powered R8 V10, which boasts an official time of 3.6sec.
Audi also says the extreme hatchback will hit 124mph in 10.9sec and accelerate from 50 to 75mph in fourth gear in just 2.4sec. About the only disappointing thing about the A1 clubsport quattro's overall performance is its top speed, which is limited to 155mph.
While details of the the production version S1 quattro are yet to be revealed, Ingolstadt based sources suggest it will be a significantly milder machine. Nothing's official just yet but rumours suggest it will run the same 210bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine found in a variety of Volkswagen Group offerings, including the Golf GTI.
The A1 clubsport quattro is distinguished by a comprehensively redesigned exterior and matt-white paint scheme that combined to provide it with a much more aggressive air than lesser A1 models. The overall look leans heavily on contemporary world rally championship cars, with a deep front bumper, fenders that are widened by 60mm over those worn by the standard model, a clear coated carbonfibre-reinforced plastic roof, large rear wing perched high on the tailgate and a fully functioning diffuser at the rear.
The need for added cooling also sees it receive bonnet-mounted ducts and two large air outlets within the trailing edge of the front fenders. Other features include a honeycomb grille insert, unique headlamp and tail lamp graphics and smaller mirror housings than those found on the other A1 models.
Mirroring the move taken with the styling of the quattro concept wheeled out at last year's Paris motor show, Audi's design team has also provided the A1 clubsport quattro with elements that lend from the original quattro, produced between 1985 and 1991, including new interpretations of its signature wheelarch blisters and classic turbine-style alloy wheels.
The A1 clubsport quattro rides on a heavily modified version of the Volkswagen Group's PQ25 platform, featuring adjustable suspension settings, 19-inch wheels shod with 255/30 profile tyres and carbonfibre ceramic discs up front, grabbed by purposeful-looking six-pot callipers.
Inside, the A1 clubsport quattro lives up to its name, with a stripped-out cabin devoid of the standard A1's rear seat. In its place is an additional cross member aimed at providing added stiffening and dedicated stowage bins for a pair of helmets.
The rally-inspired hatchback also uses front carbonfibre-backed seats from the R8 GT, four-point harnesses, a flat-bottomed carbonfibre steering wheel, unique instruments and simple pull straps in the place of the standard A1's door handles.