I saw a 2000 210bhp based S3 advertised locally to me on friday and thought why not go for a test drive and see what its like. After seeing me pull up in my own car realising that I wasnt just some spotty 17 year old kid, the salemans actually let me take it out on my own for a 45 min blast.
I thought I would just put down my views on what i thought of the car and the differences I noticed between mine, thats if any of you are actually interested.
Externaly - It did look a little plain, but with a slight sporty hint. Its something that I dont mind too much myself as I dont like the cars too in your face like the evo's etc.
Internaly - Again appart from the seats it did look a little plain though I did really like the seats. I actually prefer my interier with the white dials and the ali trim around when compared to the dash of the S3. The seats however were alot better than mine in looks and in support whilst driving.
The boot is obviously smaller but the leg room in the rear was supprisingly about equal to mine. So in gerneral appart from only having 2 doors it seems like a reasonably practicable car for what it is.
I wasnt sure whether it was actually any faster than mine straight off the mark or indeed through the gears. However the engine seemed so much more robust than mine and felt more like a desiel. Mine seems to rev alot quicker but the S3 seemed to have much better low down torque. This was noticable when I tried putting my foot down at 20 mph in 3rd and the car pulled smoothly, mine just doesnt. My turbo spools up to full boost but the car is very jerky until it hits about 40. When I changed my N75 to the 'J' varient this stopped this from happening but I ended up changing it back due to overboost problems. So after driving the S3 I am wondering if my N75 is actually faulty.
First impression I thought they were much sharper than mine. But after adjusting to the car I realised that I was slamming the brakes much harder than I do under my normal braking on mine. After the test drive I jumped straight back into mine and applied a similar type of pressure to the brakes and realised that the S3 ones were only actually a tiny touch sharper, but they were that little more responsive.
Grip - It has been raining earlier that day and the ground was slighty moist but not particularily wet. To my supprise the wheels did spin fractionaly in 1st when accelerating hard and the esp light kept comming on. Thats something I have never had with my A4. Even in icy conditions I havent managed to get any tyre slip when pulling off.
Cornering - Compared to my car the S3 was a joy to drive in the corners but not for the reason I thought it would be. I drove over the same area (remeber I test drove the car in my own town) as hard & fast as I could and I could really feel the tyres bitting into the road and could feel the limit when i was about to loose traction.
This seemed fantastic, I really felt like I earned every tight corner I went through and had a much more rewarding feeling for keeping the car on the road. On my car I alomst get no feedback what so ever through the steering wheel. When I hit the same bends in my car when compared to the S3 I just cant tell where the limit of friction is of my tyres. I pressume this is due to the increase in stiffness with the ARB's & springs/shocks etc. So for the guys with front & rear ARB's & springs/shocks upgrade have you noticed the decrease in lack of feel through the steering wheel? Or perhaps its the differences between the cars or quattro systems.
My car does seems so stiff compared to S3 and my car responds much quicker to steering wheel input, but again it actually feels dull in comparission. I was initialy wondering if my A4 steering was extreemly over servo 'ed' compared to the S3 as it required much more force to turn the wheel. After the test drive I think it might be a combination of my A4 having a more powerful servo for the steering and my cars willingness to turn more sharpely due to the stiffness of the chasis and suspension. One thing though is that in the S3 speed bumps didnt seem as much as a problem as it fly over them alot easier than mine.
Summary - I had a great 45 mins in the S3 and really enjoyed it and its definately a contender for a small car for the Mrs. I would of course have to get it chipped as a minimum of which I think would make the S3 seem a firery little beast (well for me anyway). After driving it I thought it didnt quite handle as well as my car (remember just my personnal thoughts) but thought it was was much more fun. Any comments would be appreciated.