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s3 driving impressions

pouring rain on the way to the track heightened expectations of the chance
to put some laps on the a6v8, the s3, s4 and the s8.

reality dawned at the track where the decision had been made to limit the
exercises to the usual oversteer correction, slalom and emergency
manoeuvres.  a real shame.

anyway i was able to put the s3 through the slalom a few times and compare
it to the new (facelift v6tt) s4 and the new s8.

conclusions:  this is a very nice car, it's small and you feel tightly
integrated into it.  it looks a lot better in the flesh than in the photos.
nice big wheels filling the arches and some subtle detailing in this
(brilliant yellow) car made it look a cut above the normal hot hatch.  at
$75knz (75k dm, $35k usd) it had better look something!

the seats are recaros and wonderful, the quality inside is very good
although not comparable to the more expensive cars, although i could play
with the silicone damped levers/handles for a while.  the engine is very
strong and willing, with a disappointing note.  torque is plentiful and
throttle response good.  it is a little coarse above 6k :-)

through the slalom,  the s3 was very composed and rewarded a tight line.  it
was setup for understeer but throttle lift could bring the back around
nicely.  despite the wet, the car would not slide. the reason for this was
the sticky sp9000's which were leaving rubber on the road.  abs was used and
the car pulled up true.

a true quattro?  well, through the slalom, i was faster in the s3 than i was
in the s4 (avant), but my ur-quattro would have been quicker.  compared to
my ur-quattro, the s3 is not as compliant, not as adjustable with the
throttle.  but neither is the new s4.


1) doing the slalom in the s8.  what a beautiful machine.  what a nice big
v8.  the slush was not so good but tiptronic alleviated that somewhat.  this
is a seriously fast motor car which is deceptively nimble.  nice suspension
without the "float" i remember from the last s8.

2) brake testing the new a6v8's.  by my calculations, the two cars used put
in 1,000 panic stops (100km/hr-0, abs-on) without drama.  no fade, no
snatching, no glowing discs.  the abs manoeuvre involved 100km/hr panic stop
(in the wet) with a lane change thrown in.  usual stuff.  the last time i
did this exercise was in a4s.  the a4's required the whole of the exit lane
to stop completely.  in the dry.  the a6's could stop *without needing the
exit lane* unless speed was above 100km/hr.  in the wet.  by taking a longer
run-up and delaying braking i was able to see 120km/hr before braking, and
this needed the full exit lane and a long pedal (i was the last user for the
day).  but a very very impressive demonstration of the a6 v8's braking
capacity.  and abs.  a very nice car.

3) had the chance to put 30kms on a new porker 996c4.  finally a porsche
which is a practical every day performance car.  loved it.  this car had the
sports suspension but was very compliant with nice steering (ur-quattro 20v
like), very nice gearbox and good throttle response.  engine note
disappointing - nothing like the air-cooled tune.  loved the car, it was
intimate and rewarding in the way my ur-q is, but even more so, it is more
modern and "tighter".  shame about the interior.  driving a $250k car and
wondering if the indicator switch is from a vw polo is not really my taste,
nor are the awful instruments.  however, a very compelling practical and
fast drivers car.  excellent.

4) a chance to meet up with the owner of a prisine white '84 wr.  he had
spent $25k on restoring the car and had kept it (nicely) original.  love the
sound of the 10v cars.  great to meet this dying breed of enthusiast.  we
talked quattros, rallying and the group 'b' era.  for so many of us
ur-quattro owners, it all stems from that.  for the modern audi owner (60 at
the track), there is little if any comprehension of this part of the audi

'95 rs2
'90 ur-q
'88 mb 2.3-16