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Z3 / A4

Well, Dan beat me to the punch.  I just got back in town (Auburn, 
Alabama) after an incredible driving weekend in my Reidville, South 
Carolina hometown.  Just finished filtering through my 153 messages for 
the weekend - Eric, man that stinks!  I'll get with you in a few minutes.

I drove home for the weekend knowing that my older brother had been 
allocated a Z3 for the weekend, with full intent to drive it.  Dan and I 
have been e-mail friends and I figured I'd invite him up to meet him and 
see his car (an incredibly sharp Pearl 5kcstq! - VERY nice).  Since the 
previous snows forced the BMW plant to make up for missed production, we 
couldn't get into the plant on Saturday.  Just as well for me, since I've 
been all through it three times already.  And that gave Dan and me a (in 
my estimation) better opportunity.  We jumped into his '88 5kcstq and 
headed for "Motormile" in Greenville.  Pulled into the Audi dealership 
there and were greeted before we could even get out of the car.  We told 
the salesman that we wanted to drive and A4Q.  They didn't have any 
available (keep sellin' 'em).  I told him it was the third time I had 
been there to look at one and he said that shouldn't happen.  Went out 
and started a fwd-manual A4 for us and cranked up the heated seats (VERY 
nice).  After it warmed up, he gave us the keys and told us to take out 
time.  Yes!!!!!  Now I know how y'all get to drive nice cars at 
dealerships - you drive nice cars TO the dealership (mine's unimpressive, 
if not ugly).  I decided to find out exactly what the thing would do.  
Ends up, it'll do a lot.  We promptly popped up to just over 100mph 
getting on the interstate (Dan and I were VERY pleasantly suprised with 
the V6 in THIS car).  Cruised a coupla miles to a nice backroad I know 
and the car was very predictable.  Pushing it hard made it real quircky - 
jumpy.  This car REALLY needs quattro drive.  I'm sure that would smooth 
out everything.  The Goodyears didn't help either.  But those are just 
nit-picks.  The A4 is an awesome car!  Period.  It's far better than the 
318 I've driven, though I can't directly compare it to a 328, since I 
have yet to drive one.

So Dan and I carry this A4 all over tarnation showing it to everybody I 
know and letting them all drive it.  Everybody loved it.  We took it back 
with the fuel warning icon blaring, having run out a whole quarter tank.  
Yes!!!  Then we hurried home where we found Tom (my bro) giving the Z3 a 
bath.  With that out of the way, Dan jumped in for a spin (see previous 
post).  When he came back, smiling ear to ear, it was my turn.  

Since the Z3 isn't publicly available yet, I feel REAL special.  Y'all'll 
(how's that for some southern dialect) find out later.  The car does sit 
pretty low.  I don't really like that - I like sitting kinda high (not 
suv high) and nearly straight up.  But the seat adjusted pretty well.  Me 
being a big ole boy, it was a pretty tight fit.  But nothing inhibiting.  
Knowing my brother, and having ridden with him, I knew that part of the 
purpose of employees getting to drive 'em is to see what's gonna tear 
up.  No babying allowed.  Pulled out of the driveway and hit redline in 
first and second when I looked down at the speedo - 90!  
Whooooooaaa.....Oh, it's KPH - euro spec car.  
WWWHHHHSSSHHHEEEEEEEWWWWW!  The engine revs very freely, but is more or 
less a dog.  It must be revved to death to do any real driving.  The car 
itself is tight and responsive - good steering and shifting.  Has a 
little trouble with turn in - needs more power to help it out a little, 
some persuasion.  The highlight of my drive was when I needed to do a 
180.  Revved it to 6000 and dumped the clutch, kicked the rear all outta 
whack, drove a coupla hundred feet with the rear end about 30 degrees 
out, then ran out of power and straightened out.  For a guy whose only 
driven one other rwd car (a beetle), THAT was AWESOME!  Later, I took a 
ride with Tom, the master, driving.  He's very adept at gettin' that car 
to do what he wants - knows the limits perfectly.  Heck, he's been 
driving them at the Michelin test facility for well over 6 months!  We 
found a cul-de-sac and I said, "You know you can't just turn around!"  He 
said, "Yep, I know."  A one and three quarter doughnut - around and 
around again.  Could've been more, but we were pointed in the right 
direction.  I made him stop the car and we high fived.  "I've never done 
that before.", he said!

If you've read this far, I'll share my verdict.  Like Dan said, the Z3 is 
incredibly FUN to drive.  But I failed to be that impressed.  Of course, 
my opinions might change with a 2.8l under the hood (which comprises the 
whole front end, BTW).  I guess my stigma with four-door sedans is 
showing, but the Z3 paled in comparison with the A4.  I'm still smiling 
from driving that - man if it'd been a quattro!  I guess I'm on the right 
list after all.

My brother mentioned that Audi was looking to split from VW (again?) and 
build a plant somewhere in the southeast United States of America.  
Anybody heard this?  Or is it something he heard from the inside that he 
wasn't suppposed to share?

Thanks for the incredulous quantity of bandwith.  I hope a couple of you 
made it to the end.