I picked up my S3 recently after a wait of 7 weeks. The wait was agonisingly long due to problems with transferring my plate - but here it is at last, along with some early impressions.
It's a June 2010 S-Tronic model, complete with the Technology pack (RNS-E, Bluetooth, AMI and CD stacker), Bose and roof rails. The car was a VW UK management car - not a press car thankfully - and has been sat around at the dealership since January, with 9k on the clock. Oh, and I've Bluefinned it from day 2.
The S3 Sportback is pretty much my dream car on paper, so it's got a lot to live up to! I've spent the best part of 2 years working out whether I could afford one and trying to justify the £15k gap between it and my old 2006 A3 2.0T quattro S-Line. I live in a city centre and share the car with my wife and small child, so a compact, easy-to-drive and (for me) fast car is the ideal package.
I'll get the pictures out of the way now, because that's what I most want to see when I read these sorts of threads! I'm afraid they were taken at 8pm on my street and not in the best light - scenic pics to follow after I'm next at my parents' place:
I wasn't looking for an automatic and this is my first, so that dominates my first impressions. I was seduced on the test drive and the S-Tronic makes a lot of sense for town driving and for my wife, who always seems to be in the wrong gear. It's a very smooth system and is helps create the overall impression of this S3 being considerably more docile than my old 2.0T quattro at lower speed. The shifter will select 4th gear at 20mph when driving smoothly!
Of course, I've also played with the Sport function and I'm happy to report that it's capable of being a real animal, despite what I said above. I'm not sure if it's to do with the manual -v- automatic comparison, but the S3 seems less torquey in the 1,500 to 2,500rpm band. Above that though, the S3 mauls my old car. I also get the impression that the smoothness masks the acceleration, because the numbers on the speedo come up very quickly and with little effort. I also need to learn how to use launch control and generally drive an automatic properly.
In many ways, the ultimate performance of this car is a bit academic. I'll be honest and say that it's been quite hard to find a situation where I can safely use all the acceleration that 300+bhp gives, or exploit the handling fully. (Just as well that I didn't get an RS4 then!). I forgave my old 2.0T quattro for not having French hot hatch handling but I'm giving the S3 a little less slack as it's meant to be the pumped-up model.
I've not taken the S3 on my home Welsh roads yet, but the A3 did surprise me though and the S3 is definitely an upgrade on that - plus the ride and damping are better too. The noises are also very sporting, without being obtrusive or OTT and I love the "pop" that the S-Tronic gives with hard gear changes.
The rest of the car is pretty much as my A3 was, although the Nappa leather is a lot softer than Vienna leather and the doors and boot on this 2010 car shut with a more determined thunk than the 2006 car. Small things, like bigger wing mirrors, are better on the 8P3 too. The S3 also adds RNS-E and the Music Interface, which baffle me at the moment and will take some time to learn how to use fully. I need to buy an SD card for starters!
My old car was Garet Red and so Brilliant Red on the S3 is quite different - photos don't seem to do either colour justice, but the Brilliant Red is very "loud" in comparison, especially on a sunny day like today. The S3's bodywork is as you'd expect for a low-miler, but I'll invest in a proper detail soon.
I'm obviously a bit worried given all the threads on this site about it being stolen and wing mirrors being taken - not to mention the general hard time cars get on a city centre street and my wife's love of kerbing wheels. But hey, I'm never going to own a car like this unless I face my fears and live my dreams (as the old '90s No Fear T-shirt says)!!!