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  1. #1
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    Ordering new S3 - Manual or S-Tronic?

    I'm hoping to order a new S3 in the next week or two... but what should I go for?

    Currently I have a Golf GTI Edition 30 in manual and have read ALOT of great comments about DSG on the VW forums. I've never driven one, so I can't really comment - but its always made out to sound amazing, and I've always fancied it since reading about it.

    I've got an S3 test drive booked for Saturday morning - and when I told the dealer I was interested in trying out an S-Tronic one, he told me I'd have to try it out in the TTS as they don't have an S-Tronic S3 I can try.
    Same engine, but a bit quicker due to it being lighter apparently?

    I know most people are going to say manual is best - as for the last 9 years Audi haven't made a semi auto S3... so the majority of people will have manual... and people generally say what they have is the best!! Does anyone on here have an S-Tronic S3, or A3? If so, how is it?

    Having worked for a car hire company as a student I've driven plenty of automatic cars, but I can't say they've put me up or down in either way. I didn't think 'this is great', but I didn't think 'this is horrible' either! Having said that though - none of them had 265bhp!!!

    Any opionions appreciated

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  3. #2
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    ive not got a s3 mate but ive got an a3 s-tronic and i personally love it, so easy to drive and you've also got the option of changing gear manually on the paddles. but its up to you mate, have a drive of both and see how yoiu feel. i'd personally go for s-tronic tho.

  4. #3
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    I have the A3 as well and I absolutely love the s-tronic! Very economical but drop it sport and I think Id struggle to change gears that good on a manual. Some time I feel like its a way of cheating to use it :P but with the dual clutch the speed of gear change is amazing. Flappy paddles are amazing on country roads and fast around driving too ...

    Drive the TT and see what you think, but its amazing personally
    A3 '04 2.0TDI 140 DSG with lots of goodies but stock


  5. #4
    I'm on my 6th A3 with number 7 on order. I had driven a car with a manual gearbox for 40 odd years before my number 5 A3 which was a 2.0TDI-140 with an S-tronic gearbox. My next A3, my current one is a 2.0TDI-170 and that also has an S-tronic as will the new one I have on order. Personally I think they are great. You can drive it in fuly auto mode if you want to or, like me, you can drive it almost all the time in 'tiptronic' mode using the stick or paddles. It so much nicer than having to keep using a clutch and the gear changes are very fast and smooth. Personally I will never buy another car wih either a DSG or S-tronic.

    Try it out in the TTS but remember it will feel a little strange until you get used to it then it's great.
    Dave R (h5djr)
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    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

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    Personally I will never buy another car wih either a DSG or S-tronic.
    I take you mean without DSG/S-Tronic....

    I love DSG. I can confidently say I will never buy another manual car. I've got an A6 Tiptronic and my wife has the A3 DSG/S-Tronic. The DSG is quicker and smoother than my A6 due to the double clutch. It's easy, effortless driving - you won't regret it if you go for it.

    Paul

  7. #6
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    DSG is a great engineering exercise and very neat. But as for driver involvement, I would say there isn't any. It just changes gear. Simple as. Plus, you can't get to the red line (it changes up) and don't feel in control. Well, I didn't when I test drove it on a Golf GTI a few years back. Too clinical and a bit boring!

    BUT! The best thing is to drive it for yourself and see what YOU think!!!
    Last edited by a3norwich; 26th March 2009 at 21:07.

  8. #7
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    Mate theres only one choice. S-Tronic!!!
    I have an a3 2.0tdi s-tronic bluefinned (185bhp) and the gearbox is simply amazing.
    Its quicker at changing gears than a manual, therefore quicker 0-60 and you dont have to keep putting your foot on the clutch in traffic. If you want to change down gears quickly, use the paddles and off you go.
    To tell you how good it is I drove the new RS6 the other day (absolute rocket!!!!) and the gearbox in that was astoundingly poor in comparison to mine. You change down using the paddles and it takes ages e.g in 6th gear click twice for fourth....nothing...then click again and suddenly your in second????. Whereas the s-tronic is almost instant. Get it mate you wont be disappointed.
    ps they use it in the bugatti for a reason

    PTTM

  9. #8
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    i thought the same, should i go manual or s-tronic.
    s-tronic is a bit expensive but i think it's great, on the other hand, s3 has a huge tuning potencial and i don't know could s-tronic handle that amount of torque and power, so in my case i ordered manual transmition and saved a few k as i'm planning to get some extra power

    but in the end it's up to you, your decision, your car think what would be best for you
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  10. #9
    Ash B's Avatar
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    I'd have S-Tronic so much easier and alot of fun My a3 t fsi 200 was s-tronic and loved it. You kno wwhat you want from the test drive so enjoy
    And let us know how you got on

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  11. #10
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    One thing to keep in mind, too, is that the manual in the S3 is nicer to use (read shorter throws) than in the GTI. I reckon you'll notice a nice improvement in the S3 over your Ed30.

    I've not driven an S-tronic but have ha d a few goes in DSG equipped Mk5s and while the "auto" is fantastic I'm happy to have kept the manual experience.

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  12. #11
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    As people have said, go for a long test drive and see how you get on with DSG in various driving conditions, around town, open roads etc

    From my experience it's good but there are times when I end up swearing at mine.

    e.g. Sometimes it's gets confused about which gear it should be in... approach a roundabout, slow down then pull out onto it without stopping and find it's not in gear.. then when it goes into gear...
    2005 A3 2.0 TDI SE DSG, 3 Door, Phantom Black (aka The Scratch Magnet)

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    I currently drive a remapped ~260bhp A3 s-tronic and was lucky enough to drive a manual S3 for a short time before that. I found that the power delivery of the S3 meant that you were looking for that next gear very quickly once the turbo kicked in and that's normally when you want both hands and full concentration for steering too. I think the flappy paddles would make the S3 a much better and safer car to drive fast.

    That said, s-tronic does take away alot of control and I still get frustrated sometimes when the car doesn't do exactly what I was expecting and I wish I still had a clutch. The bottom line is that the advantages of relaxed and smooth driving (especially in traffic) and the novelty and fun of the flappy paddles will probably benefit you much more of the time than the advantages of having a manual. I think that's why most people like it and if the s-tronic S3 was around when I was looking for a new car, it would have definitely been my choice.

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    S-tronic is the way to go, i have an S3 on order with it and my current passat is DSG. i agree with a few comments on the round-a-bout gear selection. i find sometimes that you will be left in 5th or 4th going to slow for the gear and as soon as you hit the gas, you get an almighty agressive kick-down into 2nd. but to beat that I flick to manual before a round-about and select 2nd or 3rd to get around and off it, then flick back to D, seems to work well for me. but I do like the auto-upshift and stamp to kick-down in manual mode. to me i could neve imagine driving a manual clutch car again especially around town. It's almost like having 2 cars, a lazy one and a sporty one..

  15. #14
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    S-tronic!

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by A2A6 View Post
    I take you mean without DSG/S-Tronic....

    I love DSG. I can confidently say I will never buy another manual car. I've got an A6 Tiptronic and my wife has the A3 DSG/S-Tronic. The DSG is quicker and smoother than my A6 due to the double clutch. It's easy, effortless driving - you won't regret it if you go for it.

    Paul
    Yes I do mean without S-tronic - slight slip there changed the meaning somewhat!! Thanks for picking it up.

    Some people say the S-tronic is not so 'involving' as as manual. Personally I disagree. It may be if you put it in auto and leave it there but if you drive with it in manual mode then it's just as involving but with having to keep pushing the clutch pedal. I drive in this mode all the time and I decide when to change up and when to change down. I manually change down when approaching a roundabout for example just as would with a manual and I decide when to change up as well. In auto the box changes up a little early for me so I decide. When I drive my wife's manual Polo I find it a fag having to keep using the clutch and the other thing that I do often forget - a manual gearbox does not automatically select first gear when you stop at a junction or roundabout!!! Trying to pull away in third in a 1.4 Polo does not work very well!!
    Dave R (h5djr)
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    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

  17. #16
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    Another vote for manual here.

    I personally prefer the mechanical experience of changing gear, and whilst the new S-Tronic systems are incredibly slick whilst factory fresh today, whether they will stay that way with 60k on the clock remains to be seen (not an issue if you change you car in warranty each time).

    To me whilst the British roads are becoming a nightmare for a daily commute, for those few days of a year that I get to go to Castle Combe, Snowdonia, the Yorkshire Moors or any other great drivers road, I want the opportunity to be a more interactive part of the driving process and not left to be feeling like sometimes the car has a will of its own. The last DSG car I used kept doing its own thing if I left it alone for any amount of time and whilst in most cases that is fine, in my mind it is just further removing the driver from the experience of actually driving by one more step, thus diluting the raw driving experience when you really want it.

    It's a bit like Microsoft Word, it steps in and does something unexpected when you just don't want it in my mind. A brilliant invention, but quite Marmite.
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  18. #17
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    Next time I change my car if I go Audi again I'm going to get an extended drive in an S-tronic. Last time I had a go I didn't get on with it massively but I probably didn't drive it for long enough to learn to like it. Lots of people on here seem to like it.

    The changing gear before I wanted it to did annoy me though, if for some reason I decide I want to take it to the limiter in every gear I should be able to
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  19. #18
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    Please please please don’t base your decision on what you read here………You really need to take the s-tronic for and extended test drive and then make your decision. There are some “characteristics” that people do find annoying and, depending on your driving style and expectations from a gearbox, these can really spoil the enjoyment of driving the car.

    I had DSG in my A3 and was very happy with it as it enabled me to drive 30,000 miles a year without having lots of pain in my left knee, (knackered from too many hockey matches over the years), yet still enabled me to have more input than with a traditional automatic. However, if I had been one of the people who was frustrated by it, I can’t imagine how annoying it would have been to have spent a not insignificant amount of money on something that irritated me!!
    A3 Sportback 3.2Q S-line, DSG, Ebony Black - now gone & replaced by Touareg V10 TDI

  20. #19
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    If i knew an S-Tronic could handle 365bhp and 350lb/ft i would take it.

    For some reason i don't think it will! Does anyone know how much the S-Tronic can handle?
    Who said speed kills!?!?....But dangerous driving on the other hand....
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    I'm a hater of Autos, however my car was the right price and when I went to see it I assumed it was manual! When I got there to find it was the DSG, it put me off. After a shortish go I was reasonably happy and because it was well priced I thought I'd buy it anyway. During the first few weeks I didnt get on with DSG but now I've got used to its characteristics, I think its great and all manuals are rubbish

    I'm a convert now!
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    I'll definately be basing my opinions on my test drive and not on other peoples decisions - but I wanted a general opinion of what everyone thought.

    I don't know if S-Tronic has a limit to how much power it can handle - but to be honest I doubt I'll be modding the car at all apart from a new set of rims and fitting some stereo equipment. I'm too old for exhausts and lowering!! Perhaps a re-map a year down the line though

    I've always thought that DSG / S-Tronic would take away some of the fun of driving and missing that element of the car screaming to the rev limiter - but if I can flick it into manual mode and use the flappy paddles as a regular gearbox (minus clutch) then I think I'd probably like it!
    I just can't help feeling that its just a bit 'lazy'! But then most of my driving is going to and from work stuck in traffic, queuing at roundabouts etc, so why shouldn't it be a 'lazy' drive.

    My other question to those of you with DSG / S-Tronic is how does it handle in the snow? Is there a winter button that makes it take off in 3rd or something rather than spinning the wheels?
    Sometimes I try and make my drive to and from work more interesting by trying not to use my brakes at all - and slowing down with my gears. Is it still possible to this using the flappy paddles? Does it have a hill hold as standard, or do I need to sit with my foot on the brake all the time?

    I suppose I'll find out most of these things on my test drive tomorrow. If I'm undecided after a few hours then I'll perhaps ask if I can have it over a few days - as the salesman said this would be possible.

    Like someone else said - its a marmite thing - so I'll probably know pretty quickly if I love it or hate it!!

    Thanks for the opinions so far - and keep 'em coming!

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    on my DSG Passat (V6 4motion read Haldex) it was fine in the heavy snow we had in jan, i managed to get across county 40 miles on A and B roads (Oxon to Glous) just switch off the ESP and away I went, up hill with 15 - 20 cm of fresh snow, was the down hills that was scary!,

    you can still drop a gear in Manual mode to use engine breaking, I do it everyday, it will only let you change down if there are enough revs though.

    not sure on the Hill hold, as my Passat has auto-hold (auto electric parking break) I am guessing it will be a foot on the break, as the S3 has a traditional handbreak.

  24. #23
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    On the hill hold - A3/S3 have standard handbrakes.

    But with S-Tronic if you're on a slope and you keep your foot on the footbrake for 5 seconds or so (not sure of exact timings - it says in the manual though) and release, the car will 'hold' for a further 5 seconds even if you take your foot off the brake, for an easier hillstart.
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  25. #24
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    Well today I took a trip to the dealer and went for my test drives!

    Firstly I took out the TTS as someone else was wanting a run in the S3. Beautiful looking car - just not practical for me being almost 6ft 3" tall and being a keen golfer and snowboarder!!!
    The S-Tronic drove like a dream. It took me a few minutes to get my left foot at ease as it had to do nothing - but once I got used to that it was happy sitting idle! I tried both D and S modes - with the S mode taking the revs to the limiter when I planted my foot, and D being slightly less aggressive.

    I then had a go at slotting the D to the side where I get the + and - stick to play with. I drove it like that for most of the test drive as I wanted to see how I could use the box as a 'manual with no clutch'! Again, it drove great - the only weird thing being (I think it was said earlier) that when you stop at junctions you have to click like 3 times from 4th to 1st, rather than just using a regular manual box and slotting it where you want it!
    I tried the flappy paddles a few times, but to be honest I found I prefered using the stick. Maybe this was just because I wasn't used to them being there.

    I love the way that it drops a few gears and guns it when you drop your foot! Despite it being a horrible wet and sleety day, I got very little spin and had heaps of grip all the time. It was very strange having so much grip as the Golf I have just now likes to slide its way round roundabouts in the wet.

    Anyway... I returned to the dealer and swapped the TTS S-Tronic for the Sportback Manual they had.

    The first thing I noticed was how comfy and roomy it was inside compared to the TTS. The suspension had much more 'give' on the terrible pot holed roads. I felt much more like I was in my Golf, apart from I had heaps more grip again. The manual box drove pretty much the same as my Golf. The main downside to this is that the speed limits here are all 30 / 40 / 50 where I do most of my driving. I often find that I'll speed away from the line at traffic lights etc - and floor 1st, then 2nd - and then skip to 5th or 6th for 45mph or so. The S-Tronic does this so much better than I do!!

    In all honesty, I'd be happy with EITHER the S-Tronic OR the Manual... but since I have the choice I'm going to go for the S-Tronic. It may detract from the 'feel' of driving, but since most of my miles are dual carrigeway too and from work, I feel that the semi-auto is more practical. When I do want to let rip on the country B roads, then I can do that with both hands on the wheel and use the flappy paddles! When you search on Autotrader or Audi's used website theres not another single S-Tronic S3 for sale. Surely this will help my re-sale value in another 3 years also!

    Its marmite I suppose... I didn't really love it or hate it - but I think I'll learn to love it! It just makes the journey a little easier.
    Last edited by p3eps; 28th March 2009 at 19:06. Reason: wrong feet LOL

  26. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by p3eps View Post
    Well today I took a trip to the dealer and went for my test drives!


    I then had a go at slotting the D to the side where I get the + and - stick to play with. I drove it like that for most of the test drive as I wanted to see how I could use the box as a 'manual with no clutch'! Again, it drove great - the only weird thing being (I think it was said earlier) that when you stop at junctions you have to click like 3 times from 4th to 1st, rather than just using a regular manual box and slotting it where you want it!
    I tried the flappy paddles a few times, but to be honest I found I prefered using the stick. Maybe this was just because I wasn't used to them being there.
    Glad you enjoyed your test drives.

    There should be no need to click the lever or paddles to get the S-tronic into 1st gear. That's one of the nice things about the S-tronic. As soon as you stop it will automatically select 1st gear for you. This is my problem when I drive my wife's manual Polo - I forget it does not change into 1st gear automatically when I stop and I often try pulling away in 3rd gear - which does not work very well with a 1.4 Polo.

    When you get used to the paddles driving using them can be great fun.
    Dave R (h5djr)
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    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

  27. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by p3eps View Post
    The S-Tronic drove like a dream. It took me a few minutes to get my right foot at ease as it had to do nothing - but once I got used to that it was happy sitting idle!
    Unusual driving style you've got there buddy!



    Just kiddin...nice write up.
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  28. #27
    Perhaps he drives cross-legged!!
    Dave R (h5djr)
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    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Igdos View Post
    Unusual driving style you've got there buddy!



    Just kiddin...nice write up.
    Yep - I like to make things as awkward for myself as possible, so I accelerate with my left foot
    Last edited by p3eps; 28th March 2009 at 19:10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by h5djr View Post
    As soon as you stop it will automatically select 1st gear for you.
    I never noticed as I was a bit paranoid about getting it back to 1st!
    Even so - sometimes you approach a roundabout in 5th for example and get to there to find nothing coming... in a manual you'd just select 2nd or 3rd and keep going, but with the S-Tronic, you need to tap down a few times.

    Seems very responsive and quick to change though. I love how smooth it is too!!

  31. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by p3eps View Post
    I'm hoping to order a new S3 in the next week or two... but what should I go for?

    Currently I have a Golf GTI Edition 30 in manual and have read ALOT of great comments about DSG on the VW forums. I've never driven one, so I can't really comment - but its always made out to sound amazing, and I've always fancied it since reading about it.

    I've got an S3 test drive booked for Saturday morning - and when I told the dealer I was interested in trying out an S-Tronic one, he told me I'd have to try it out in the TTS as they don't have an S-Tronic S3 I can try.
    Same engine, but a bit quicker due to it being lighter apparently?

    I know most people are going to say manual is best - as for the last 9 years Audi haven't made a semi auto S3... so the majority of people will have manual... and people generally say what they have is the best!! Does anyone on here have an S-Tronic S3, or A3? If so, how is it?

    Having worked for a car hire company as a student I've driven plenty of automatic cars, but I can't say they've put me up or down in either way. I didn't think 'this is great', but I didn't think 'this is horrible' either! Having said that though - none of them had 265bhp!!!

    Any opionions appreciated
    Hi p3eps,
    I have had the use of a Golf with DSG for quite awhile and have to say the 'box is amazing and really great fun if you find a twisty bit to use it on and when you are driving normally it is a very smooth auto. There does always seem to be a delay when pulling away though and this is something to do with the 'box always being in second gear (at slow speeds like roundabouts etc) and then changing down to first (i think that's what they told me anyway - please don't shout at me everyone this is my first post)

    I have to say though that the novelty wore off after a while and I did miss changing gear properly - hence I have just taken delivery of my new manual Sportback......
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  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by p3eps View Post
    I never noticed as I was a bit paranoid about getting it back to 1st!
    Even so - sometimes you approach a roundabout in 5th for example and get to there to find nothing coming... in a manual you'd just select 2nd or 3rd and keep going, but with the S-Tronic, you need to tap down a few times.

    Seems very responsive and quick to change though. I love how smooth it is too!!
    I always drive mine as though it was a manual and would never arrive at a roundabout in 5th gear. 4th perhaps and if all clear, depending on the roundabout mine would go quite easily and rapidly in in 4th, sometimes a single click of the paddle and I'm in third and away. The only time 2nd or 1st is used is when the car is almost stopped and the box has selected 2nd or when the car has actually stopped and the box has selected 1st.

    You will find that you can very quickly get used to double-clicking the paddles and be in any gear quicker than the time it takes to press the clutch pedal and move the manual gearbox lever.

    Don't get into the habit of using D or S other than in traffic jams. It takes away all the fun!!
    Dave R (h5djr)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A3 8V 2.0 TDI-184 Sportback Sport s-tronic quattro - Silver + lots of options - my 9th A3

 

 

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