Those modes are Dynamic, Auto and Efficiency, and they seem to make more sense to us than the choice of several Comfort or Sport settings that rival BMW tends to supply.
The Dynamic mode in the S1 is, without question, too uncompromising for a lot of UK road surfaces. It leaves the S1 too stiff-legged to absorb typical back-road lumps and bumps and can cause adverse bodily reactions ranging from rotational head toss to quite pronounced pitch.
On a couple of uneven country roads that we often seek out to test ride and handling in particular, Dynamic mode turned the S1 into a rebounding, bump-steering, near-driver-unseating mess.
Mercifully, things improve when you select Auto mode. The ride calms itself down – although it still seems overly firm and poorly resolved at times – allowing you more freedom to concentrate on the car’s handling repertoire.
Odds are that you’ll like what you find. The S1 meets the expectations that we all have of ‘pocket rocket’ hot hatchbacks by being responsive to steering inputs, tackling corners with grip and directness and having plenty of impish attitude about it all.