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Thread: How close is an S car to an RS car; my experiences.

  1. #1
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    Post How close is an S car to an RS car; my experiences.

    Last night I had the opportunity to take a test drive in a RS. One of my neighbours has made the switch from a latest series Focus RS (modified to about 450bhp), to an Audi TT-RS for a bit of winter grip and plushness.

    I've been masterfully avoiding driving an RS for some time now because I had this deep rooted suspicion that anything wearing an RS badge was going to make my 'S' feel somewhat inferior, but when I was offered to opportunity of hooking it up on my VCDS last night, the reciprocated favour was the offer of a drive in the TT-RS i couldn't find a reason to refuse.



    So I appreciate the car in question is a TT-RS and not an RS3, so drawing like comparison is a bit tenuous, but there is a fair bit of sharing between the RS3 and the TT-RS to make this a reasonable comparison. As I don't own an RS I can have a clean conscience about blowing smoke up it's arse, or likewise criticising it (or the 'S').

    Initial perceptions
    Obviously the RS's are a more imposing animal to look at than the 'S', and as anyone reading this has eyes in their head they are capable of making their own judgement as to whether they like the RS look. This car with it's alu kit and buckets (and sepang paint) was a visual feast and looked every bit the capable hyper hatch. So already it's a resounding one nil to the TT-RS as it looks like someone has actually made an effort in the design team. The 'S' just looks like an 'S-Line' and you'd struggle to tell it apart from one given a bit of distance. You'd never mistake the RS for anything else.

    Moving into the driver seat my ample arse was well cossetted by the gorgeous buckets, and despite the slightly pokey cabin in the TT being somewhat smaller than the S3 it didn't feel claustrophobic. I'll be honest, it didn't feel any plusher beyond the seating (although I will concede the steering wheel feels more meaty), so the 'S' didn't feel a million miles behind. However once the ignition key was turned and the engine fired up the differences quickly became apparent.

    • Steering is significantly more weighty at pretty much all speeds
    • The gearbox mechanism (this was a manual) felt more precise and better engineered
    • The clutch weight was much heavier (this car has 29k so it may have had a clutch change)

    The car was warm when I got it so I was able to 'test' it straight from the off. Standing start launches felt like a completely different kettle of fish to the 'S' and the heavier clutch felt like it would deliver launches time and time again without any of the fear you'd feel doing it in the 'S'.

    The extra power from the 5th cylinder and the 25% cubic capacity are immediately apparent. You find yourself being very cautious around town as the smallest stab on the accelerator launches you towards law breaking speeds faster than your head can compute. I've done enough praise, so here comes the first criticism. Switch to 'S' mode and whilst you get a pleasant burble from the exhaust, the car becomes a touch twitchy. The throttle becomes hypersensitive off the line, and on occasions it can feel like the engine mounts are struggling as you can feel a tipping sensation as the engine unleashes its power. This car had a bit of a vibration at over 4,500rpm which could have been a wheel imbalance or a knackered DMF, but i couldn't decide which it was likely to be. The only other nasty was what felt like an intermittent flat spot at 4,200rpm, but other than this the 2.5T is an absolute peach of an engine and really leaves the EA888 2.0T showing it's age. Don't get me wrong, the 'S' button is a lot of fun, everything is super sharp, but the beauty is when you've had your fun you can switch back to standard for more restrained motoring.

    As I headed up to the M4 interchange it had started to rain, and I was able to sample the delights of the Haldex system round a complex of roundabouts. I've always known Haldex is better than the 'haters' would like to acknowledge, but in the TT-RS the lighter weight, lower centre of gravity, battery relocation and part space frame help to make the car feel much better balanced than the S3. Only if you drive like an imbecile will the car unsettle itself significantly; you can feel it's adjustments going on underneath you which enable you to retain pace without all the power being dumped out as it would in lesser cars. This car has R8 brakes so it's not fair to draw parallels here, but my god they are good, and they need to be.

    Verdict
    So what did I learn. The last RS I drove was a B7 RS4 about 4 years ago, and the 2.5T feels every bit as fast and probably more planted in the TT-RS. I'm sure the RS3 will be within a few penneth of the TTRS drivewise, as anything wearing an RS badge is going to have to have got through fairly rigorous test and control standards.

    Of course I knew it would be better than an S3, it was by how much that has really shaken me. I'm not knocking the S3, I've owned two back to back and it's a hugely accomplished car for it's screen price. However what I was reminded of last night is that the 'S' cars are fast S-Lines and NOT slow RS's. To try and bring that statement to life what I mean it feels like an S-Line with a remap rather than a detuned RS as the depth of engineering in the RS does not feel like it's cross fertilized into the S car.

    As I closed up my car last night and the TT-RS headed off up the road it was a stark reminder that no matter what I do to this car I won't 'FEEL' like an RS to drive, even if I make it quicker with basic bolt ons. I've been left in absolutely no doubt, my next car has to be an RS.

    So the reason I've put this down in print; i guess it's to say to people if you're in the market for a new 'S' car and you've come to ASN to do your research, don't overlook a nearly new / second hand RS. The driving experience the RS cars offer is significantly more visceral and driver focussed than the 'S', and if you can afford the RS consumables you will find yourself having a genuinely great experience each time you fire it up. I'm still stunned quite how different it is.
    Last edited by warren_S3; 12th October 2012 at 16:58.
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    How close is an S car to an RS car; my experiences.

    I will make a more detailed reply to this later as I am supposed to be working at the moment.

    As someone who has recently traded a 5month old S3 for an new RS3 I can tell you Warren is spot on.

    As said i will add my thoughts later but in short, the RS is a completely different animal, one that I was hoping for in the S3 but never found unfortunately!

    I told myself I wouldn't criticise the S3 as it has been a dream car for a long time, however in my opinion and having now owned the RS3, it is a little disappointing
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    Good write up Warren. Thats exactly why I was looking at an RS3......the TTRS is a little too small for me as I need the space. The overall package is just brilliant IMO. Just need to find a descent priced one. After the New Year me thinks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodster View Post
    Good write up Warren. Thats exactly why I was looking at an RS3......the TTRS is a little too small for me as I need the space. The overall package is just brilliant IMO. Just need to find a descent priced one. After the New Year me thinks.
    It's a very capable package, and it's the resolution of the package that comes together much more successfully than the 'S'. The 'S' feels like a stretched Golf GTi (and when you think the Golf starts at 200PS, even to achieve 260PS is good going), but the 335bhp in the RS feels much more accessible and manageable than it does in the 'S'. It's a comfortable car; and doesn't feel stretched in the same way.

    I'd always wondered if the extra power would leave the car feeling wayward and the chassis overpowered but somehow they've beefed the mechanics up to overcome any sense of the reedy feebleness you some times experience in the 'S' car.

    I think I'd forgotten over time how big the gap was, and this was a timely reminder I need to work harder and earn more money!!!
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    This will probably sound a little pedantic but the extra girth (for want of a better word) of the steering wheel in the RS makes a fairly substantial improvement in feel I find.

    I am trying to hold off on my thoughts of anything else really as I have only had the car 3 days and I may be experiencing the honeymoon period.... as said I'm really not trying to paint a bad picture of the S3 at all here.... but my god the RS3 is good in comparison!
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    Now you made me want an RS3:]
    Be patient. English is tough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedDejavu View Post
    Now you made me want an RS3:]
    Yeah, as if I didn't want one enough already. Nice one Warren.

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    I've always loved the RS models, and I'm glad you've had a positive experience.

    I remember Evo magazine didn't really rate the TTRS, and the RS5 was pretty much slated by every motoring magazine for being too dull and prone to under-steer.

    Your summary just goes to show that you're best off taking the car in question for a drive yourself and making your own mind up!

    Yes, it's good to hear the thoughts and opinions of others - but ultimately, only you will know whether a car's right for you after you've personally driven it...
    Current car: 2009 Audi S3.

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    Once again great write up warren

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    Great write-up as we've come to expect from you Warren.

    The only negative for the RS3 in my mind is the DSG.....I know everyone rates it, but I still think to REALLY drive a car like that, it needs a manual gearbox to make the experience complete !

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    Well if you want the ultimate TTRS APR have made the best one which goes like stink and is reliable for everyday driving ...Just watch the video and you'll know what I mean ..

    600bhp

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    Given what 340PS feels like I find it hard to believe 600 would make it a better car. There comes a point where unless you're after v-max glory you risk ruining the car. I'm sure it's an amazing piece of technical development but I can help feel that kind of power requires Lamborghini underpinnings not modified Golf!

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    Great read warren.
    2000 AMK S3, Revo'd, forge 007p, B8's, H&R's, tarox g88's, ferrodo ds2500's, and in the fastest colour



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    Said car will be at ADI tomorrow, I'm hoping he heads out on the track with me in shotgun as he's getting it Revo'd up. It will go like f*****g stink with code on it.

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    Another great write up Warren.

    I hav lusted after a TTRS for some time now and out of the RS3 & TT RS for me it would have to be the TT purely so I felt like I was gaining a different car in the looks department.

    At this point in time the S3 still ticks all the boxes for me but once my little lad is big enough for a booster seat who knows ?!?

    Thinking of coming down tomorrow to ADI as it was really good last year, can track passes be bought on the day ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spin140 View Post
    Another great write up Warren.

    I hav lusted after a TTRS for some time now and out of the RS3 & TT RS for me it would have to be the TT purely so I felt like I was gaining a different car in the looks department.

    At this point in time the S3 still ticks all the boxes for me but once my little lad is big enough for a booster seat who knows ?!?

    Thinking of coming down tomorrow to ADI as it was really good last year, can track passes be bought on the day ?
    I will be about in the morning Martin, heading off at lunch. Aiming to get there for 8'ish.

    Track passes can be bought on the day, just bring your paper licence part, at least £40 and a helmet (assuming you don't want someone else's greasy lid on your bonce).

    Like you, TTRS for me if I go that way as I need a change.

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    Warren, don't do this to me. For the last couple if months I have toyed with replacing the S3 with a RS3. I am still fighting this urge, no more of this please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by warren_S3 View Post
    I will be about in the morning Martin, heading off at lunch. Aiming to get there for 8'ish.

    Track passes can be bought on the day, just bring your paper licence part, at least £40 and a helmet (assuming you don't want someone else's greasy lid on your bonce).

    Like you, TTRS for me if I go that way as I need a change.
    What time are you heading down? I go 6-7ish? Maybe meet up on the way?
    Be patient. English is tough.

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    126 miles for me so I'll set the alarm and see how painful it feels to get up, half a day would suit me too not to mention my tyres and clutch
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    I'm aiming to be on the M4 about 07:15'ish Red, so if you see a black S3 and a blue TTRS in convoy feel free to latch on!

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    Lovely write-up Warren as always!

    The TTRS is very noticeably different looking wise while the RS3 doesnt really stick out to me when i see it on the road. I do see a few around and the body work never really 'grabs' my attention, though the engine note is something else!

    as for the steering wheel i actually have the TTRS wheel in mine



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    Great write up as always warren

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    Written like a boss, how long until it's affordable though? 15-20k? 5 years?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash187 View Post
    Lovely write-up Warren as always!

    The TTRS is very noticeably different looking wise while the RS3 doesnt really stick out to me when i see it on the road. I do see a few around and the body work never really 'grabs' my attention, though the engine note is something else!

    as for the steering wheel i actually have the TTRS wheel in mine



    Looks great Ash, what did you pay for that if you don't mind me asking.?

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    How close is an S car to an RS car; my experiences.

    I'm still trying to work out why they named it TTRS and not RSTT, following Audi's usual naming convention.... e.g. RS3, RS4, etc etc.
    Same goes for the TTS not being named STT.

    Someone somewhere in Audi HQ is probably thinking "DOH!!!"

  27. #26
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    I love my S3 and as you have said the RS section get you thinking I have had the chance to drive a RS3 and a RS5 at my Audi dealer the RS3 on a couple of occasions and I agree I want one but keep telling myself one day for now the S3 is plenty. It also dosnt help when your big brother owns your hero car and let's you drive it now and again teasing you, you know the saying don't drive your hero car you'll only get disappointed well for me that's horse s**t my brothers RS4 is a animal an amazing car to drive and I tell my self one day one day.

    Great wright up Warren
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