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Audi S1 and S3 Cabriolet: Geneva Auto Show

What Is it?

The 2015 Audi S1 debuts at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show along with the 2016 Audi S3 Cabriolet. Audi cars usually start with an “A” unless they’re sporty versions, which is where the S badge comes into play.

The A1/S1 is a subcompact on sale in Europe, but Audi has decided not to bring it to the United States. This is something of a shame, because a stylish small car would work well in city and suburban environments, and give the 2014 MINI Cooper some competition.

This all-new S1 is quick: 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, making 228 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque that is then directed to the road through an all-wheel drive system. The S model’s suspension has been recalibrated for a stiffer ride than the regular A1. To slow things down, 12.2-inch discs up front sit behind 17-in special-design alloy wheels.

Drivers twirl a flat-bottomed steering wheel and dance on stainless steel pedals. Passengers can enjoy a Bose sound system and built-in Wi-Fi, and both front occupants are ensconced in sport seats.

The new generation of A3 is a definite for the States. Audi was kind enough to make this version into a sedan because American buyers tend to prefer that body style over hatchbacks. And a regular A3 cabriolet is also on the cards. Perhaps if we all scream hard enough, Audi might be even kinder and bring this sporty soft-top over, as well. After all, the 2015 Audi S3 sedan is already expected in mid to late summer, so how hard could it be?

Like the S3 sedan, this cabriolet enjoys 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is standard, while a computer-controlled active suspension is optional. The sprint from standstill to 60 mph is done and dusted in a fleeting 5.4 seconds, claims Audi. That’s a whisker slower than the tin-top, but cabriolets are heavier because of the folding roof mechanism. A fabric roof (Audi doesn’t do retractable hardtops) takes 18 seconds to perform its electrically powered folding/unfolding act at speeds of up to 30 mph. As with the S1, there’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel and sport seats, but this time the audio system is a Bang & Olufsen.

How Much?

A rough guess of $40,000 for the S1, and something in the region of $46,000 for the S3 Cabriolet.

When Can You Get It?

For the time being, you can’t get either of them at all.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

You like to dream; you play golf with someone who knows someone at Audi who can put in a good word; you’re moving to Europe.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works — As an alternative to the Audi S1, this pocket rocket should provide similar levels of fun. This is a new generation of MINI and, at the time of writing, a JCW version is still anticipated.

2014 FIAT 500 Abarth — This model is shorter on power than an S1 (160 hp), but the charm and suspension tune appeal to those who like their hatchbacks on the hotter and stiffer side.

2014 Ford Fiesta ST — It’s a whole lot of fun wrapped around 197 hp, and almost half the price an S1 might be.

2014 Audi TTS Roadster — It’s only a 2-seater but packs 265 hp and is available right now.

2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible — This all-new model is due early next year and replaces the 1 Series. If there was an M version, it would make an ideal rival to an S3 Cabriolet.

Used Audi TT — Something small, fairly fast, all-wheel drive and with four rings on the grille.

Used Volkswagen GTI — Something fairly fast with hatchback practicality.

Used BMW M3 Convertible — Fast, dynamic, fast and breezy. And fast. A 2011 model might be obtained for around $45,000.

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