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Upcoming Audis driven...

I had the chance yesterday to drive some new/upcoming Audi models at an Audi
dealer meeting in Helsinki.  The new A6 4.2 quattro and the A6 2.7T quattro
were impressive, although after driving the 4.2, the 2.7 left me longing for
more boos and the standard 6-speed on the winding B-roads.  The 4.2 was fine
with the tiptronic, and no manual is available.  My own 2.7T demo is to
arrive in about a month's time do I'll leave my final judgement to that
time.  The 2.7T quattro is priced around USD 70 000.00 here and the 4.2
(prelim. price) around USD 100 000.00

Other new models present were the new S3, TT quattro (180hp), TT Roadster
(not driven), A3 1.8T quattro (180hp) and some new competitors such as the
new S-type Jag and a Volvo S80.  The S3 was most impressive, and the thought
of the MTM modified ECU and 300+ hp further increased my interest in the

This was also my first chance to drive the Haldex cars at higher speeds and
varying conditions from dry pavement to wet pavement and gravel.  I was
relieved once we were on gravel and I strted to get the hang of controlled
4-wheel powerslides with the S3.  The Haldex system seemed very predictable
and the power transfer to the rear axle took place so quickly that I could
not detect a transition in the handling of the car.  The time driven per car
was too short to draw final conclusions, but at the moment, I'd say I'm
going to be happy with the new system.  The S3 seemed incredibly stable and
quiet at 240km/h indicated speed, but beyond that an Opel Vectra in my way
brought me back to a little below half of that, which is a little closer to
legal speeds.  The chassis seemed very well sorted, and the car in my eyes
is the closest to an Urquattro followup as we've had to this day.  The S4
and even the S2/RS2 seem too refined and civil, and in the case of the new
S4 and the RS2, the basic 2-door concept just isn't/wasn't there.  The price
for this joy here is about USD 55 000.00.  Make mine black to go with my

FWIW, the Jaguar was a great disappointment to me as far as materials and
design in the interior of the car, and the 3 litre V6 seemed nowhere as
powerful as they claim.  The handling was nothing to write home about
either, but maybe the Jaguar customer does not drive tarmac special stages
on a daily basis.

The new S8 was not yet available, so the old model car was there once again
for our driving pleasure, and as always, it was just that.  It is amazing
how such a big car can be hustled through the twisties at alarmingly high
speeds.  I guess the 18" rubber and big brakes don't hurt in this department

The TT Roadster was a joy to look at and sit in, and the 90% pwer top was
simple to operate.  The tonneau was quasi-hard, and I guess it is meant to
be stowed in the trunk when the top is up.  The rollbar/hoops look good, but
do cause the soft top to look a little taller than it should be at the rear
edge of the top, negating the possibility of the Porsche Speedster type
one-purpose-only-look (keep the rain outa my lap).  I guess I'd just keep
the top down...  Our first Roadsters are to arrive in time for Christmas.

Jouko Haapanen
Pori, Finland