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A3 3.2 Review after 1 year of ownership

StephaneS Mar 7, 2005

  1. StephaneS

    StephaneS Member

    So after 12 months of owning the 3.2 here is what I thought of it (hope it helps someone deciding):

    First the spec:

    Silver A3 3.2 Quattro Sport with the main options being full Votex Bodykit, 18'' Calito wheels (split BBS rims actually), full black leather, BOSE Symphony (or concert?) 6CD charger, front heated seats. I bought it as a 3 months old ex-demo car with 3000miles on it
    One thing to know is that I did not intend to buy that car at first. I wanted a cheap run-around and a Caterham but as things go with girlfriends, I had to yield and find a car that could offer as much versatility as possible in terms of performance and luxury. I.e. she could drive it for the weekly shopping as easy as she wanted and I could have more power (hence 4WD) than our Astra coupe turbo. It actually was then pure luck that in browsing “Top Marques”, we found out that there was a small Audi that got Quattro and a V6 with 250bhp.

    That’s for the little history and reason to buy the car but I’ll come back to it later. Now for the review

    Exterior: 7/10
    That’s pretty much personal but I wanted a discreet yet sporty attitude and I think the A3 has great lines with an understated yet aggressive look to it. It also feels bulk and I like that. But to be honest, I think that the 3.2 version deserves at least the full Votex body kit and the 18’’ wheels. You could even say that it is not noticeable enough with the body kit. As a consequence, I have lost count of the Saxo boys trying to race me because I am sure they did not know what kind of car it was.
    (Incidentally just before selling it, I thought “what the hell!!” and decided to do one race with those at least once before I gave the car up. So was at about 80, saxo boy was upset I overtook him, he got about 10inchs from back bumper, dropped only one cog as I was in 6th (two cogs would have been better but one was enough) and floored it. I don’t even need to tell you the rest, you’ll know with the engine review. I know it was stupid and does not prove much but I felt better afterwards)
    Back on subject: If you don’t have a body kit on the 3.2, I believe it is wasting a lot of the right attention it deserves whereas you may get all the wrong attention.
    All 4 wheels got corroded after only 6 months of ownership and as they retail at £1,600 I was not impressed to say the least. Oh I got them replaced under warranty but only after a nightmare with the dealer. So I think that even though, those BBS wheels look good, I am sure that you could have better for the same price or even cheaper.
    I also think that the 3.2 should be a tad lower and offset of wheels at 54 was too much. ET at around 40 should be better.
    Also if you can, either fit some armour-fend or mudflaps for the winter (as I found out myself audi mudflaps don’t fit with the Votex bodykit).

    Interior: 8/10
    That was my first Audi and it had to have leather as I think an Audi without leather is weird, a bit like a Porsche without the performance. Anyway the interior with leather was perfect, with an outstanding quality everywhere, but all black was maybe not the best. A lighter colour would have been better.
    The heated seats (a must with leather) were a revelation for me as the heating is slow to warm up the car’s interior.
    The seats are not very supportive though and with leather it is even worse. Disappointing to say the least on the 3.2.
    Visibility is good in front and average at the back (still better than my astra coupe though!)
    Road noise is very low and when the car is idling you don’t hear it run at all (good when you feel relaxed but bad on all others).
    The 6 CD-changer and the Bose were very good to me but I am no expert in that. I think that for any average listener like me it exceeds expectations.
    Room a the rear was very good and its access was ok but I did not like the fact that the front seats were such a pain to put back into normal position
    Boot was small and not as good as I thought it could be.

    Handling: 6/10
    I will remember 2 things about this car’s handling: Understeer and Quattro.
    First, and that is a disappointment to me, the car understeers too much to be labelled “great handling”. That seems to be caused by 2 facts:
    Suspension (in Sport version) is too soft for such a quick car (S-Line could help) and the engine is in front of the front axle!!! If I would have kept the car changing the coilovers would have been the first mod, I would have done. I played with the tyre pressure to improve handling and 38PSI front and 39 back was the best compromise I could come up with (1577kg car!!)
    Fortunately the “Quattro” helps the car turn and get some grips but you have to drive it hard to get any substantial results. Quattro (haldex version) was a revelation to me. I think it is a great principle and apparently the new A3 software version is quite good compared to previous ones but I feel a bit more work remain to be done to have the best of both worlds (FWD econ and 4WD safety).
    Only at the end of the ownership did I really enjoy and control the car’s handling characteristics with some full 4 wheels drifts. Don’t ever think you’ll get oversteer for any long period though as the few times you get the back going slightly wide it snaps back very quickly
    Brakes are great (the best I have ever tested – better than a mkII exige if it helps you) and I never got them to fade but on a track, I am sure it would be different.

    Engine: 8/10
    With the interior, it is the best part! It sounds amazing (even more from outside), it pulls like a train and believe me not many standard small hatch will be as quick. The low down torque is incredible and it does not stop until 7000rpm!! As I said when I bought the 3.2, I had a turbo car and one thing that a turbo car has never had (yet?) is that wonderful throttle response. Touch only slightly the accelerator and it instantly changes speed very accurately.
    2 things that I know some people won’t like: it does not feel as quick as some other competitors but check the speedo and you’ll see it is most of the time quicker. It is not a turbo charged engine. I know it is obvious but some people (coming from a chipped S3 for example) may miss that kick in the butt.
    Only bad thing for the engine IMO is the fuel consumption. DIS over a year and 10000miles indicated 24.4mpg but I think that it was closer to 22mpg. Boot it and you’ll get around 16mpg and that is really low!!!
    Oh yes I forgot, when booted, the engine moved too much to my liking and stiffer mounts should be installed.
    Other stuff I liked/disliked:
    When you clean the car I hate that if you open the boot you have gallons of water dropping on the side panels and wrecking all the good work
    I loved the little secret you discover along the way, like on the alloys’ nuts there is a small plastic cover that you can only pull out with a special tool which is surprisingly supplied with the car (I am not even ironic, I really liked that). Also, that the wipers are “clever” in running intermittent when the car is standing still or that the mirrors defreeze automatically.

    What do I regret the car did not have?
    Xenons, folding mirrors, cruise control and an engine behind the front axle. I really feel all those items should be standard for the 3.2.

    Conclusion: /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ok.gif
    Well you can either sum up or average the marks and get an idea but as every other purchase it will mainly depend what’s important for you.
    I wanted a different more responsive drive than my Astra turbo. It also needed to be quicker (it was), be a 4WD, better built and better interior (no need to say really…) and it did all that
    Personally, I don’t think there is any car as good as this one in this market. Except the R32, there are no other 4WD hatch with a 6 cylinder engine that have the same luxury and relax feel about it.
    Finally would I do it again?
    Yes but I would wait 3 more months to get another ex-demo with those options I missed and I would change the whole suspension and stiffer engine mounts!
    Mall-uk and BibbsOnTour like this.
  2. steeve

    steeve Well-Known Member TeamMisano Team Ibis Audi S3

    Good review, disagree with the R32 comment though, mine was a three door and entering and exiting the car was a nightmare with those seats. Up to now I prefer the A3 over the R32, my previous car an Impreza STi with the prodrive pack was much quicker and firmer but, where do you park one, that subtleness is what made me buy the A3. I can park it and dont want it to stand out, a real Q car, like the quality though..........

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