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Living with the V8 quattro (LONG article)

Life with a V8 quattro.. part 2..

First the problems.. now the fun part..

Before I start one more "problem" that I forgot to mention.  Actually I
consider it to be its hot-rod character.

The engine will not tolerate being started from cold and run for less
than a minute.  The plugs will foul and it will have great difficulty
starting the next time.  I encounter this on the weekends when I want
to pull it out of the garage to wash it then pull it back in.
Typically this involves about 20 seconds of running and 2 cold starts.
It's a big no-no.  What I do now is to push it out by hand and then
start it and quickly pull it back in when I'm done and not run it
for too long.  The mechanic tell me that this is due to its very
high 10.6:1 compression ratio.  His suggested workaround is:

1. In the extreme case where the engine will not start at all..
   - Remove all 8 plugs and let them dry on a paper towel then replace
     them.  I'm still looking for the plug tool.  Anyone know what size
     it is?  It is the same as the GTI 16V tool.

2. Start the engine with a wide open throttle... Yow, if it catches and
   I'm not quick enough, I might rip its guts out...

Anyway, what's a little temperament.. makes the car a little more interesting
to live with.

Onto the fun part:

Grand prix de traffic lights:

I commented in my Autoweek response that I didn't think that many owners
would drag race this car.  Nevertheless there have been occasions when
I have been provoked.. I sadly confess to having a little of that much
maligned male ego..

- My friend who went into the clouds ever since he bought his 80Q claimed
  that R&T tested the V8 and the 80Q and that the 80Q could outdrag the
  V8, since the V8 was so heavy..  One day a bunch of us went out in
  these two cars and he pulled alongside me at a red light.  When it
  turned green he shot off without warning, with his passengers sticking
  out their tongues at me.  I did not have time to switch the selector to
  "S".  In "E" mode I mashed the pedal and pulled him in and passed him
  without too much of a fight.. He never mentioned R&T after that.. 

- I've had two separate encounters with aggressively driven Saab 900 turbos.
  In one encounter the guy was pretty impatient and was tailgating.  Since
  it was a one lane road there was not much I could do except to step on
  it.  It was a long uphill stretch too, so I pulled the selector down to
  "2" and let the V8 wind up.  It left him wayyy behind.  2nd gear is good
  for 85 mph, BTW.

  In the other encounter, the guy was obviously enticing me.  On the
  first couple of red lights he would blast off, only to screech to a
  halt on the next red light.  On the last one, I let him take off and
  open up several car lengths.  The road would was one that would
  become a sharp 2 lane freeway on-ramp.  I closed in as he braked for
  the turn.. The V8 brakes are simply wonderful.  There are few cars
  that I've driven where it actually feels good to brake hard.  This
  is one of them.  So I waited till the last moment, went hard on the
  brakes and then turned in.  Into the turn, I remember that quattros
  always like to have power applied to keep the weight transfer onto
  the rear wheels.  The thing turns around and leaves the Saab several
  car lengths behind after exiting.  He didn't want to race anymore
  after that.

Please, no safety flames.. I don't do stuff like that on a regular basis..
These are the only incidents in the 9 months I've had the car.

Daily commuting:

The automatic gearbox and the engine driven viscous fan makes the
daily commuting a lot more comfortable when one runs into heavy
traffic.  This sounds silly, but one reason why I took the V8 over the
similar priced 200Q 20V was because the 200 had a single electric fan
and a puny side mounted radiator.  I never did like the way the
temperature gauge shot up to "hot" before the fan kicked in with a
roar on my old 4000Q and when I saw that the 200 was essentially the
same deal I went "yuck". On the V8, the gauge climbs a little, but
with two fans (the other is electric) and a full width radiator, it
keeps its cool very well.  Air conditioning is also much more powerful
than the 4000Q.  My old 4000Q did not cope with 85 degree traffic jams
very well.  The V8 also does not have the engine-off-fan-on deal.  I
guess it doesn't need it.  I like this "feature".

The car is very quiet when cruising, except for road noise over rough
pavement.  I hear that all German cars suffer from this because German
roads are very smooth.  The V8 sounds bland at low revs/low load..
certainly not as entertaining as a BMW six.  But give it some revs and
it sounds like a muted version of those American hot-rods.  Very
distinctive V8 rumble.  Friends think it has some resemblance to the 5
cylinder off-beat note of other Audis.  I actually turn off the
excellent Bose stereo when I run hard, just to listen to the engine.
It's one of those engines that sound better the harder you work it.
Like the GTI 16V of which it shares the same cylinder head, there is a
distinct increase in power once one hits 3500 rpm.  There is quite a
lot of torque low down, over 200 lbft from 2000 on, but the difference
at 4K is very noticeable.. very similar, in fact to the GTI 16V,
though I suppose the slush masks the peakiness somewhat.  But there is
no doubt that to go fast, one would have to be a little brutal, by
pulling the stick down to "2" and burying the foot on the gas.  It can
deliver a lot of thrills for 30-50 or 50-70 overtaking manuevers.
First gear is a little cumbersome to engage and though it's good for
55 mph I never use it manually.  The Mercedes style selector gate is
pretty good for manual override.  4 to 3 is a simple pull.. useful
when one wants to pass at freeway speeds.. i.e 55-75.  

The brakes only come alive when used hard.. When they are cold, one
has to almost shove it hard to keep the car from creeping forward
in "D".  I usually shift it to "N" at red lights.  I hate the shift
lock and I hate 60 minutes for making Audi put it there.

The EPA mileage numbers are a joke.. 14 city, 18 highway.  I get 22.5
most of the time.  When I have opportunity to rev the beast, it goes
down to 21.2 or so.  It has never fallen below 20, except for the
first tank when it was brand new with less than 100 miles on the
clock.  I think that trip computers should be given credit to be one
of the most significant devices ever invented to conserve energy.. :-)
The car consumed 1 quart of oil in its first 1000 miles.  It has gone
down to zero ever since.


When I first got the car, I was a little disappointed that it did not
handle as sharply as the 4000Q, nor did it handle as well as the V8 I
tried on the race track 2 years ago.  The steering was mushy too.  The
culprit were the tire pressures.  The factory recommends 36 psi.  I
had 38 and it's still way too low.  One day I tried upping it to 40
and found that both handling and ride improved.  It almost felt like
at lower pressures, the tires were out of phase with the suspension.
Today I run at 42 psi all-round and it seems to deliver the best
handling and ride.  I tried 44 briefly (the max. printed on the
P600's) but the ride deteriorated rapidly at this pressure.  With 42
psi the steering is much sharper and so is the turn in.  My car does
not have the much dammed servotronic steering and though it is a touch
too heavy at parking speeds, it is great at anything over 20 mph.
Though it is not as nimble as a GTI or a fwd Audi 100, it is still
very agile for 4000 pounds.. it only concedes low speed corners.
I think it will be able to take on 3000 pound cars quite easily.
The steering is heavier than 80Q/90Q's but lighter than 4000Q.
It is a tad inaccurate at the straight ahead position.  I think the
Passat and Corrado have better steering than the V8.

Quattro drive:

I was on vacation in the tropics last winter, so I have not really
tried it on the snow yet.  I did purchase a set of Audi brand steel
wheels ($110 each :-(  aftermarket not available because of those unique
front brakes) and a set of TR rated studded snows, but have not tried
them yet.  Needless to say, it is fantastic in the rain, even more
stable and confidence inspiring than a 4000Q.


Very happy with the thing, of course.  Did you expect otherwise?
It doesn't bother me one bit that it resembles the 100/200/5000..
the less conspicuous, the better.. No badges anywhere around the
car too.  The car is not perfect, but it fills my needs perfectly.

That's all, hope it wasn't too boring.