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I test-drove the A3!

Hi fellow Audians!

After seeing a growing number of A3s running around the neighbourhood, I
decided that it was time for me to go and check it out myself. So last
Saturday I found myself for a brief time behind the wheel of a gleaming
Laser red A3 1.8 5V 'Ambition'. Stupid name, but it means funky alloys,
sports suspension and sports seats. The car was great to drive. I could
only take it for 15 mins and had to fight off other people (who were
impatiently waiting in line when I returned).
Forget about this being a glorified Golf! It has the satisfying Audi
'clunk' when you shut the door and the Audi absence of wind noise. The NA
1.8 5V engine is no screamer, but I broke the speed limit quick enough.
It's plenty quick for me though, but there is a 1.8T version. The 5V engine
is a high-tech piece of machinery, very flexible and willing to rev.
Tractable at low revs though.
The engine noise was barely audible, only the rev counter to tell me it was
running at tickover.

It seems that A3s are about 15-20% more expensive than Golfs with the same
engine, but some of that price difference comes from twin airbags, ABS,
electric windows/mirrors, alloy wheels, power steering and rear headrests
which are all expensive options on the Golf. A/C is a very expensive option
on the A3 here though.
On top of that the 1.8 has EDS, electronically locked differential, which
prevents wheelspin. If I'd known *that* before the test drive, I'd have
tried even harder, but I couldn't get the wheels to spin even though it was
on nasty rock hard Continental Eco's. Unfortunately 15 mins was not really
long enough to

The boot (trunk) is quite OK in size, but it seems that they've
concentrated on drivers' comfort and boot space at the expense of rear
legroom, which there isn't. A nice rear seat, but you'll need the
'easy-entry' option to actually get into it. I'd recommend the sports
suspension because it handles very well, corners flatly without being
bone-jarringly hard.
In the showroom were two more 1.8s, both 'Attraction' base models, in
purple with a purple interior (yuk!) and in gold/ochre metallic with an
ochre interior (even more yuk, imagine getting into that on a hung-over
Monday morning!) but 'my' red 1.8 had grey/red seats, which were passable.
The sports seats are nice as well, I'd definately get those.
The seats are very like those of the A4, so the usual backache whenever I
get into a Golf doesn't apply here. The steering wheel is leather-covered
and fully adjustable. Power steering is nice but a little 'remote-feeling'.
The interior is very Audi-like with a nice looking dashboard and a chunky
steering wheel and gear lever.

If I'd have ordered my A3 last Saturday, I would have it by April 1st
1997... are they that popular or has Audi some trouble with production?
Just for fun I asked the sales guy what he'd offer for my 80 (with
intergalactic mileage). Another reason not to buy a new car. I had to get
hold of a solid object to steady myself.
Trying to get the price of a nicely-specced A3 together, I was reminded why
I vowed that with my own money I would *never* in my life buy a new car.
Apart from the usual 17.5% sales tax we've also got a special car tax,
which together are levied on the car itself and any accessories you get
from the factory. This makes the very reasonable f 473 ($270) for the
sports suspension come out at a whopping f 769 ($440) after tax! The car
itself gets the same treatment: $15,950 for the base 1.6 gets to be $23,950
after tax! There's a lot of money to be made here on aftermarket
accessories... I shudder to think what an eventual 1.8T Quattro (synchro)
version would come to.

Those of you with a Macintosh or any other way to read BinHexed (4.0)
files, who'd like to receive pictures of the A3, can drop me a line. I've
got the (very nice) brochure lying next to me. I can scan paint colours,
exterior and interior shots. I can also get more info about equipment or
tech details.

I'm going back to the dealer's this week, but not to get an A3. I'm going
to get the funky 'four rings' keyring the test car had, and a nice quattro

Sorry for the length of this post, but I thought it nice enough to share
with y'all...

Bye, Tom
1988 80 1.8S FWD

   Tom W. Nas, graphic design                        tnas@dtpdirect.nl
   DTP Direct bv                              Voice +31 (55) 5 790 799
   Apeldoorn, the Netherlands                   Fax +31 (55) 5 790 125

Non-Reciprocal Laws of Expectations: Negative expectations yield negative
results. Positive expectations yield negative results