By doing this more effectively than any of its two-wheel-drive rivals, the tiny Audi is nearly a second quicker to 62mph than the Mini.
It feels it, too. Through the first few gears, the familiar EA888 motor - usually labouring under the higher workload of bigger hatchbacks - makes the S1 properly ferocious. And because it comes without the slightly haywire lack of composure endemic to overpowered front-drivers, its potential never seems less than fully exploitable.
While it obviously can’t overcome a near 30bhp deficit, no one would accuse the new Mini of tardiness during get away.
All the old scamper is present and correct, enhanced by the better mid-range delivered by the upgrade to BMW’s larger 2.0-litre four pot and a 100kg weight-saving over the more mechanically complicated Audi.
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However, where the pair differ most is the way they turn straight line guts into cornering glee. As you might expect, it’s nonchalant accuracy versus darting excess - and it plays out differently depending on where you are.
On the road, the Mini’s jacked-up positivity and scything direction changes are intended to keep you on tenterhooks; as is the torque and bump steer which shimmy up the steering column.
It’s a level of interactivity the S1 can’t, or, more specifically, doesn’t even attempt to match. The car’s light but direct manual gear change and short wheelbase might make it rather perky for a fast Audi, but following the Cooper’s feverishness, it seems desensitised during fast A to B work - content enough to be blithely swift and composed.
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Reach C though (Cadwell, in this case) and - much closer to their respective limits - quattro’s impassivity roundly trumps the Mini’s messy thrill factor. Asking more of the latter on a slender track tends to highlight the limits of its actual ability; reminding you, all too often, that the some of the car’s energising effect is an engineered-in over-reaction to input.
Thus a quick lap becomes more about the management of the Cooper’s occasionally brittle squirm, torque surfeit and high-speed understeer than a pleasurably involving experience. Commensurately, under the same conditions, the S1’s on-road coyness is suddenly made all the more alluring.
The car’s forthright capacity for precision, not to mention the assistance of the rear axle when things get dicey, aid and abet the kind of clean line you want on a circuit better suited to bikes.
Add in sufficient power not to be entirely overawed by the sight of a back straight, and the Audi driver tends to emerge in the pits the better satisfied. Consider the pair from further back, and it’s not impossible that particular circumstance wouldn’t transfer to the long driveway of ownership - after all, the S1 is less fussy within, more handsome without and bereft of the silly lifestyle image that still comes with a Mini.
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For us though, the nagging suspicion that you’d paid nearly £7k more to have a bit less fun on the road (where it counts) would rankle too greatly over time.