An Audi RS1, boasting 280bhp and four-wheel-drive, has been given the go-ahead by Audi bosses.
The new model will act as a swansong for the current A1 prior to the arrival of a new, second-generation line-up in 2018.
Set to go on sale early next year, the new hot supermini will fill the void left vacant by the earlier A1 quattro — a 258bhp version of the pre-facelifted A1, of which just 19 were sold in the UK in 2012.
Unlike the £40,020, left-hand-drive-only A1 quattro, the RS1 has been conceived as a regular production model, complete with righthand drive compatibility.
As a result, it will be priced more competitively than its limited-edition predecessor. Nothing is official yet, but suggestions are that the newest addition to the RS ranks will attract a handsome premium over today’s 228bhp S1, which costs £26,335, hinting that it will probably cost more than £30,000 in the UK.
As sister model to parent company Volkswagen’s upcoming Polo R, the RS1 is planned to rival a number of performance-based small cars, including the Ford Fiesta ST. However, the prime target for the new junior RS model — whose name was recently the subject of a copyright filing by Audi — is the Mini John Cooper Works. Sources close to the recently reorganised Audi Sport division say the RS1 has been extensively benchmarked against the hot Mini.