Check out this latest test mule the mad staff at quattro GmbH have been testing at the Nurburgring. Photographed at the roundabout near the track, this blacked-out Audi A1 would seem to be a dead giveaway of the existence of an RS 1 program.
Those following the A1 story know the intel thus far. quattro was bound for the A1 lineup from the beginning in the form of the Haldex system utilized by Ingolstadt's other transverse models such as TT and A3. We even tested a preproduction version last winter in Canada.
More recently, some observant readers of Audi4Ever.at spotted what looked like a preproduction Audi S1 complete with 'S1' badged instrument cluster and also a near twin to the quattro car we tested with interesting 'RS1' part identification decal on the rear swaybar. At the time, we wrote the second car off as a quattro prototoype with an RS 1 spec swaybar... proof of an RS 1 program, but nothing more.
Then today, we get this set of photos. Frowning maw like that, this seems like it could only be an RS 1. Other previous RS-cars including the TT RS and RS 5 followed a similar routine, looking otherwise stock save that obvious RS design cue that is likely needed to test cooling. More recent mules such as RS 5 Cabriolet and RS 7 also seem to follow this lead.
The Audi Design Team's consistency in appearance makes for a dead giveaway when one of these RS mules shows up at the Nurburgring or other testing venue. Of course, the large rear roof spoiler that is similar in appearance to that of the RS 3 Sportback is also a pretty obvious giveaway.
So what will power it? At this time, we're not exactly sure. Audi showed, in design study form at least, it could fit its potent 350 hp 2.5 TFSI under the hood of the A1 when it wowed Worthersee show-goers last June with the A1 clubsport Design Study. Though while it certainly fits and we'd love to see it happen, we're not yet convinced that Audi will go so aggressively wild with the powertrain... at least not yet.
On one hand, Audi could do it and in doing so create likely one of the hottest hatches ever to exist. On the other, would an RS 1 that can outpace the expectedly more expensive TT RS and maybe even keep up with the R8 make sense in the lineup? It would be a daring move for sure, though if they price it high enough we suspect they'd still sell them all.
If not a 2.5 TFSI, our guess would be a potent version of the 2.0T. That's just a guess, but it would seem to make sense and a high-horsepower version of the newer EA888 2.0T with its Lamborghini derived freer flowing head seems due as the 2.0T from TTS and S3 is still based on the elder 2.0T generation.
What other changes might the RS 1 benefit from? Well for starters we expect to see some carbon fiber CFRP panels. The RS 3 drops weight in the front by replacing its front quarter panels with carbon units. We've also seen prototype carbon fiber roof panels made for the A1 during our last visit to Audi's lightweight design center. Shedding weight up top would further help the car's center of gravity.
Whatever the case, we expect the RS 1 (and thus S1) to drop sometime next year. Once a car is seen testing, it's usually not much more than a year before it sees an auto show stand. Although, like the as-of-yet-unreleased RS 4 Avant, it's possible that Audi might test with mules based on the current car though save the RS version until the mid-cycle product improvement. Only time will tell.
Check out more photos in our gallery after the jump.
Audi RS 1 Photo Gallery