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A whole lot of fun – 2000 mile update

Discussion in 'RS3 Forum' started by MBK, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 14, 2012]
    The first 2000 miles in the RS3 have quite literally flown by and as I’ve now had the chance to drive the car on some great journeys and challenging roads I thought I’d share a few thoughts here. I’m still 100% happy with the car even static I still glance back for a final look when parked up and it makes me smile when I see it again after a long day in the office.

    Crouching Engine, Hidden Gearbox

    The dynamics on the move are of course far more interesting and a few recent runs up through Mid Wales gave me the chance to try out a few different types of road under varying conditions. Two things make this car an intoxicating experience – the engine and the gearbox.

    Regardless of the road or circumstance the engine has either a wave of torque or the outright power to react intuitively – it’s almost telepathic, you ask and the engine responds. Most of this is made possible by the superb s-tronic box, maybe I’ve got a good one (and must be lucky because my Favia VRS also had a good one!)because I have yet to find a situation where the gearbox struggles or does something odd – maybe it just suits me, I’m a convert to semi auto and by choice will stick with it over manual in future. The idea that a manual is more engaging just seems crazy to me. S-tronic means I can keep both hands on the wheel and focus on the road, the reaction speed of the box, especially in Sport is way quicker than I could have changed down in a manual in any case. The extra mechanical shove added to each up shift in sport just adds to the feeling of going quickly, if feels right to have that little bit of extra ‘shunt’ as the cogs swap, I know it’s not really needed but it’s fun. The deep bwaarrppp sound from the exhaust is also a pleasure – I do find some amusement in timing the up shift to occur just as I pass another car – I like to think it’s like a mini sonic boom as that ‘sensible’ looking Audi flies past.

    Overtaking all too easy

    Where engine and gearbox really come together is under full bore acceleration - the uninterrupted stream of acceleration is addictive. It enables me to look for the overtaking gaps and be ready to take them, essential for making decent progress on A-roads these days. Being able to give full concentration to the road means 2, 3 and sometimes more cars can easily be despatched comfortably and without fuss. Overtaking really is too easy in this car, no holding in a lower gear for the right opportunity or feeling of a lack of power when that chance comes.

    Sweeping up

    Fast sweeping mountain A-roads is where the RS3 is happiest. On a road like the A4059 it is truly devastating. The levels of grip, wet or dry, give utter confidence. Through the long sweeping corners over reasonable quality tarmac the car has such stability that any amount, even frankly unreasonable amounts, of power is useable. With the gearbox doing it’s thing I’m free to focus on keeping a smooth line. All this adds up to totally controlled deployment of power and in my book that’s a good thing.

    Hairpins = Grins

    Party piece time. Oh how I look forward to hairpins and tight corners. Having adapted to the need to brake a little harder with the lack of engine braking, diving down into tight corners is accompanied by the exhaust blipping, popping and banging like the rally cars I watched as kid. I find myself actually giggling out loud quite often. Turn in is remarkably accurate and the RS3 feels lighter than it is in this respect. Then, the party piece as General Maximus Decimus Meridius once said “On my command unleash hell” give the throttle everything, all four tyres bite hard and with the minimum of fuss you are launched down the road with ferocity usually only found at the fairground. Only the angry sounds from the exhaust are there to down out your laughing and the occasional squeal from a nervous passenger.

    B-road blasting

    From the press reviews you’d get the impression that B and minor roads are not natural territory for the RS3, yet so far I’m finding this car has many hidden talents. The damping over crests is perfect and the ability to deal with changeable surfaces just inspires confidence. It’s important to get the turn in speed right on less than perfect roads, this is a car that reacts best to ‘slow(ish) in rocket out mentality. The brakes are more than adequate for any road situation (sure the weight/heat combination might be a factor on track) and pressing on has never been so easy. A totally unscientific test (though immense fun) put paid to the idea that a Clio RS is quicker and more fun to fire down this type of road - or “where did you go” as my friend put it after a friendly spirited 6am run through the local twisties.

    Going in too fast

    So what happens when you do go in too fast? I just had to find out the on limit behaviour. With the ESP on actually nothing much happens at all, sure you feel the power dip but the car holds line incredibly well. To get to understeer you really do have to go in way, way too quickly, even then I found the line will tighten immediately the power reduces. With the ESP off there is more adjustability to be had, you can use the throttle to adjust the line neatly. There are still a few tenths of a second when you are left wondering what the front tyres are going to do but once you get used to this there is more adjustability. Balance the throttle pick your apex and line through and the rear of the car begins to help, just a degree or two of adjustment but it’s enough to push the nose in and allow deployment of all that performance.

    In the wet

    Arguably the most fun of all is wet and greasy roads, lucky that because we get plenty of them in Wales. Incredibly it’s still possible to use all the available power out of the slower corners. Using more bad science imagine if you will a tight slow slip road joined at 20mph off an equally tight and tiny roundabout. RS3 in front, track spec’d Civic Type R complete with a trick slippy diff and latest sticky tyres, not really fair in the wet but hey, since when was the weather fair. The RS3 put every last ounce of power down, no tyre scrabble and without a hint of understeer. The CTR was, by contrast, a big mess of understeer, nose pushing well wide into the (clear) outer lane, and simply couldn’t get traction. Clearly I’m a much better driver (??!) so we tried this little experiment again having switched seats. Oh dear same result and driving ability ego shattered once again, seems it was all the clever electronics in the RS3 after all.

    So the car does it all for you?

    I like this kind of journalist quotes along with “steers like a computer game”. Yes the RS3 does a lot for you, especially the s-tronic box which is engineering voodoo. It might well steer like a computer game but then I like computer games rather a lot.

    Does all that make the car less engaging? In my experience no, instead it simply means you can focus more on the road ahead, your line through the corner, the no time for hesitation overtaking gap and that subtle change in road surface ahead. All of which makes the RS3 safer, faster and more fun to just drive which is sort of the point isn’t it?
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  3. quattro81
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    quattro81 All the gear.. No idea

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    [Jun 14, 2012]
    Nice review, mate:icon_thumright:.. It sounds, from your description, that this is gonna be one fun, confidence-inspiring car to drive in a multitude of conditions.. Can't wait!!!!!! Out of curiosity, do you have any sort of milltek? Or are you stock at the min?

    p.s loving your youtube vids.. But you need to get a couple of the RS3 on there! (unless i'm just a wally and missed them somehow!)
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  4. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 14, 2012]
    Thanks, completely stock and not seeing any need to change that at the moment.

    No RS3 videos up yet but that might change soon I'm experimenting with some new HD cameras, remote mic's and a different data logging set up.
    #3
  5. jerseypaul
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    jerseypaul Member

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    [Jun 14, 2012]
    Love the write up.
    Agree with all the comments.
    loving this car, it's so planted, flexible engine, stunning gearbox - what a package.
    i thought my RS2 was quick, but the rs3 would smoke it in nearly situations.
    #4
  6. quattro81
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    quattro81 All the gear.. No idea

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    [Jun 14, 2012]
    I'm gonna get myself a couple of the GoPRO Hero 2 HD cams with ram suction mounts.. my mate uses them for motorcross and they're brilliant.. really good framerates, high res and nice wide angle even at 1080p... I've got an ATC 9k at the min, but it just lacks the vibrance of picture the GoPRO produces somehow..?

    I know it's a bit of a glossy commercial presentation, but this vid is all shot with the GoPRO hero2.. Looks cool in wide angle
    The HD HERO2: 2x as Powerful in Every Way - YouTube
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  7. CarrG
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    CarrG Member

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    [Jun 15, 2012]
    Great write up mate. Just 2k miles here and I'm building more and more confidence with this car esp in the wet.

    You sound like a guy with alot of driving experience. Wouldn't mind a passenger ride show me if I'm missing something.

    Do you do many track days at Llandow?
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  8. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 15, 2012]
    quattro81 - I agree Go Pro HD are the way to go. Those old standard Go Pro's that shot all that film on youtube were brilliant, one event got smashed off the side of the Megane R26R when got to close to a cone - I really did clip the apex, the car missed the cone but the Go Pro mounted on the wing didn't! Ed Moore of Motorsport Events retrieved the camera for me later and it was intact and still working fine. The only problem I is the poor sound quality, hence why I'm experimenting with a remote mic off the main in car camera. I've found multi-cam gives the best impression of the day, usually one interior, one wing one rear - cos the shots where someone is all over your tail are as interesting as the overtakes!

    I really appreciate the positive comments about the video's I enjoy making them as much as I enjoy driving during the days.
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  9. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 15, 2012]
    Thanks & no I don't do many at track days at Llandow anymore - the surface is very grippy and as a result I find I burn through tyres at a shocking rate - on one hot day I got through a pair of front R888's on the R26R in about 80 miles (chasing a friend in his Lotus Elise SC which I think is still on Youtube). That was ok when tyres were about half the price they are today.

    I'm just an enthusiast who has spent a few £££ on lessons with various instructors, a couple of early track days soon taught me I had much to learn.

    - MAC Driver Training (came 'free' with a Civic Type R) were superb for on road skills.
    - Ultimate Car Control with Rob Gravett still rates as one of the best experiences and so much learning about car dynamics in just a couple of days.
    - For on track stuff Ed & Natasha Moore and the Motorsport Events team are brilliant, friendly people. Erling Jensen is one of their superb instructors who corrected a lot of my road habits and taught me how to be at least average on track.

    I could go on with the training list but I'm sure that would be dull - I also paid for the mrs to do all these days too, it got her interested in cars and saved me a lot of hassle over the money spent. She's quite the wheelswoman these days and equalled my competition time in the wet at Phil Price Rally School!

    After that it was just a case of getting used to different cars and drive configurations - as a result my car ownership list is a little eclectic including RWD, FWD, kit cars, 4WD but the only way I've found to learn control is to find out what happens when you hook them up properly.

    Pembrey is my preferred local track and I will be there again in September with Motorsport Events, happy to give a pax ride, you'll see from the youtube comments I'm happy to take a few people round with me during the day, it's great to be with fellow enthusiasts.

    I will drop you a PM if I'm doing something local.
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  10. CarrG
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    CarrG Member

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    [Jun 15, 2012]
    Thanks Mate.

    I'll keep an eye on youtube.

    Cheers for the info :beerchug:
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  11. quattro81
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    quattro81 All the gear.. No idea

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    [Jun 15, 2012]
    MBK.. I agree with the couple of cameras for different angles.. hence two for the car! Don't know if i'd stretch to 3 Gopros just yet :) but the more the better!! Also you are right - the sound is good, but not perfect by any means.. I also intend on using my 2 cybershots for the static drive past footage.. Call it sad, but editing it together is actually quite good fun!
    So you gonna do a trackday with the rs3 then?
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  12. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 16, 2012]
    Sure I use 2 GoPro's and an camcorder or iPhone on a solid mount in the car, 3 GoPro's would be a little pricey, and I think they are best for the external shots.

    The RS3 is almost certain to turn a few laps at some point, a quieter or wet track day would be ideal. It's still a heavy car in track terms so I wouldn't use it as a track regular like the R26R - mainly due to the cost of consumables like pads, discs, tyres and to some extent fuel. In track terms lighter cars are easier on everything and the way to go but I hated owning Kit Cars (I like driving not fixing cars) so I prefer to rent a BatCat or similar when I feel the need for the track.
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  13. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    [Jun 19, 2012]
    I've really enjoyed reading this and your earlier "first impressions" write-up. I know from some of my own longer posts that it takes a lot of effort and, while it's no doubt a pleasure to write them, it's good to know that other people appreciate them - as I am now!

    All of this quite seriously makes me want to get an RS3. I don't even know if you can still get them new (?), but there are seldom any in the colour combination(s) I'd like when I peruse the 15-20 used RS3s for sale at any one time.

    I'm from South Wales (Vale of Glamorgan) and used to work around Bridgend, Neath etc for some years. You really have the roads for a car like the RS3 out there. :)
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  14. Dave Hedgehog
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    Dave Hedgehog Member

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    [Jun 20, 2012]
    I dont know if the order book is still open, you will have to go and ask :) theres a few unregged ones about at dealers still, mine had a black and silver one for 41k
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  15. dbm
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    dbm Active Member

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    [Jun 20, 2012]
    Cambridge Audi have just received two unregistered ones as well.

    The car is worth a 200 mile trip to collect the one you want - I speak from experience :)
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  16. CarrG
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    CarrG Member

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    [Jun 20, 2012]
    Hi Mate,

    You can come and try mine if you want, sound very local!!
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  17. MBK
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    MBK Active Member

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    [Jun 20, 2012]
    Thanks Ben, truly appreciate the positive comments. Yes we have great roads no matter how many times I drive the likes of the A4059 and Upper Chappel roads I still grin, add in the twisties like Felindre top and Llyn Brianne (including the amazing Devil's Staircase) and I think we've got roads to rival any you see on TG etc. I like your signature pic too btw!

    [​IMG]
    Llyn Brianne on a run a couple of years ago

    [​IMG]
    The Devil's Staircase - as good to drive as it is to look at.

    I'm thinking of making some sensible videos just to showcase the roads.

    As for the RS3 Bucket seats were my only real want I think all the colours look great. I'm currently going through a Red phase in car life no real idea why. All I will say is once you drive one, given you already like the Audi way, you will want one whatever colour it is!
    #16
  18. nickbb
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    nickbb New Member

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    [Jun 20, 2012]
    MBK - good write up. Just joined the forum and have ordered an rs3 for Sept delivery. Can't wait!

    cheers
    Nick
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  19. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    [Jun 22, 2012]
    I'm from the Vale, but sadly moved to Bristol some years ago. Just had our second baby, so can't see me getting out for a hoon soon! :whip:
    #18

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