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Clarkson on the S3

Discussion in 'A3/S3 Forum (8L Chassis)' started by SanityClause, Dec 24, 2005.

  1. SanityClause
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    SanityClause Member

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    [Dec 24, 2005]
    I was having an end of year cleaning up of the hard drive and came across this, given the price stated I'd imagine it's from 1999 as the price dropped to £25k.

    I'd still love to see an S3 on Top Gear.

    It's Mika Hakkinen in a Marks & Spencer suit; Motoring. (Features) Jeremy Clarkson.

    I MET a food stylist the other day and wondered. How did that come about then? How do you start out in life wanting to be an astronaut or a film star, and end up with a Davey lamp on your head, using surgical tweezers to arrange sesame seeds on a bun?

    And then I wondered some more. What a sham. It is this person who builds up my hopes in hamburger restaurants. I see a photograph of a bulging, steaming snack that bears no relationship whatsoever to the tired old cowpat I'm actually given. Apart perhaps from the steam.

    And that brings me neatly to the Audi TT. When they first showed me a photograph of this Bauhaus barnstormer, I was positively moist with anticipation. But then I went for a drive and, within half an hour, found myself wearing that detached, middle-distance expression normally reserved for dinner parties when I find myself next to a man who services reservoirs.

    The Audi TT looks like a sports car, but it isn't one. It's an automotive Ginger Spice, superficially lithe and speedy, but beneath the clothes all droopy and loose. Like a soggy walnut.

    Interesting then that I've fallen madly in love with the new Audi S3, a car that shares the same turbocharged engine as the TT along with the same four-wheel-drive system and the same six-speed gearbox.

    This is because the S3 doesn't try to look like a sports car. Apart from bigger wheels, wider arches and more crouching stance, it looks like a normal A3, which is an unpretentious hatchback. And because I wasn't expecting it to garnish the road with Tabasco sauce, I didn't really mind that the gearbox was vague and that the brake pedal acted like a switch.

    And so what if it doesn't have electric responses when you turn the wheel. Audi, bless them, have never been able to make a car that handles properly but, for the thousands of doctors and solicitors who buy such things, it doesn't really matter.

    If you want a sharp suit, go to Subaru and buy the Armani Impreza. If you want Boss badging buy a BMW, but if you just want something for work there's always good old Audi and Spencer.

    But then I pressed the accelerator pedal and thought: whoa, hold on a minute. The S3 may not be up to much in the bends, but in a straight line it is positively explosive. Even in sixth gear at 70mph, it hurtles off toward the horizon like a rabbit.

    I simply wasn't ready for such vivid performance from what is basically a 1.8 litre, three-door hatchback. And that's where the S3 really scores. By maintaining low expectations, you're constantly being delighted - by the epic night-time dashboard that glows like Los Angeles, by the blue tinted headlamp beam and, most of all, by the Recaro seats. Not since I drove an old Renault Fuego have I ever been quite so comfortable. In a car, that is.

    It's also been a while since I felt so comfortable with a car. While it doesn't actually turn heads, it has real-world good looks. What I'm trying to say is that it isn't Brad Pitt or David Beckham; it's just a handsome bloke on the other side of the bar.

    And that four-ringed badge comes with no unpleasant baggage. When I see an Audi coming up our drive, I'll rush to the door to see who it is. When I see a BMW, I close the shutters and pretend to be out.

    You buy an Audi because you want a practical, well-made tool to convey you, and some passengers, sensibly and with the minimum of fuss from your agreeable house in the country to, let's say, Assaggi in Notting Hill. People with Bee Ems go to Quaglino's, so they can shout.

    And finally we get to the price: £ 27,000. Which is a lot for what, as I said, is basically a hatchback. But it is not a lot for a car that does quite so much, quite so well.

    For the same money, you could have a Mitsubishi Evo 6, but you'd arrive everywhere looking like Gary Rhodes. Or you could have the BMW 323 coupe. But you'd arrive everywhere late.

    For the past year or so, I've been singing the praises of Alfa Romeo's GTV6, which is £28,000. In fact, I've come awfully close to telling strangers in traffic jams that they've bought the wrong car. "Oi, you. Why are you driving around in that p.o.s. when you could have had an Alfa? You are a moron and I hate you on a cellular level."

    Well, now there is an excusable alternative. If you really, really need back seats and you absolutely must have a boot that can take more than one prawn, you may buy an Audi S3. It's the second-best car in this class, which is like being the second-best racing driver after Michael Schumacher.

    There you are. The S3 is Mika Hakkinen. Cool. Detached. Handsome. And much, much faster than you'd think.
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  3. ianhg
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    ianhg Member

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    [Dec 24, 2005]
    cool
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  4. imported_Strider81
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    imported_Strider81 Guest

    [Dec 24, 2005]
    have always wandered what JC made of the s3- now i know.

    thanks for that-good read.
    #3
  5. imported_ZeroK66
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    imported_ZeroK66 Guest

  6. ALISDAIR
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    ALISDAIR New Member

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  7. RichWalk
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    RichWalk New Member

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    [Jan 4, 2006]
    Great article, sums up why I bought mine.
    #6
  8. amoani
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    amoani Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    great article. Its always nice to read a good review of the S3. To be honest, good reviews of the S3 dont seem to come up that often (not that ive found anyway).
    #7
  9. AL_B
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    AL_B Active Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    Great stuff. What a find.

    Although I reckon Mr Clarkson will forget all the good things he's said in that article when the new S3 is released.

    Lets face it, the new one is probably going to be marginally faster, and will probably have better handling due to the fact that the chassis on the current A3 is stronger.

    So I'm getting the feeling comments like "the old one was a bit lame" or "it didn't handle very well" or "was a bit wallowy"...that sort of thing.

    Tell you what is **** in that article, the bit about 6th gear 70mph and "hurtles off toward the horizon like a rabbit"...I think not.

    Wonder if the press car was chipped...;)

    AL
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  10. jojo
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    jojo S3 Drift King! Staff Member Moderator

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    [ QUOTE ]
    Tell you what is **** in that article, the bit about 6th gear 70mph and "hurtles off toward the horizon like a rabbit"...I think not.

    Wonder if the press car was chipped...;)

    AL

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Alright Al, remember Ryan from the Awesome RR, his Imola Yellow S3 was the original press car as used by most testers in the UK, and he claims it was chipped before he aquired it, with the previous owner not having a tinker himself.
    #9
  11. AL_B
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    AL_B Active Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    Hi jojo,

    ahhhhhhh, sneaky Audi eh?!

    Maybe Clarkson should be reunited with the former press car...now it would rocket away in 6th!! hahahaha

    AL
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  12. simonelman
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    simonelman Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    But yellow cars are always quicker

    SimonS3

    MRCtuned
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  13. Ryanc
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    Ryanc Active Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    yep,had a mild german un-named chip on one of those removeable boards.Boost was up too 1.1bar ,steady 245/245.
    amd figures 267/263.
    #12
  14. dickys3
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    dickys3 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    I wonder if top gear would be interested in doing some sort of review again on the S3. Perhaps we could suggest something and turn up with standard/slightly modified/heavily modified S3's to show what can be done to them to improve the handling/performance etc?
    #13
  15. mattyboy199
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    mattyboy199 Active Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    good luck, i doubt they would be interested.
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  16. SanityClause
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    SanityClause Member

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    My point at the beginning, I can't personally recall Top Gear testing the S3, I do remember JC being mocked about his choice of the GTV though.
    Though not Audis, Clarkson did do a test/race of modded cars (Escort RS Cosworth) on one of his videos.
    Still, for a car that can match most of the remaining hot hatches, albeit years after it was introduced the S3 has been sadly overlooked.

    Naughty naughty Audi for supplying a modded car, I mean no other manufacturer would do that...... would they? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif
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  17. jojo
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    jojo S3 Drift King! Staff Member Moderator

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    [Jan 9, 2006]
    [ QUOTE ]

    Naughty naughty Audi for supplying a modded car, I mean no other manufacturer would do that...... would they? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I remember Skoda releasing an Octavia vRS Press car that could keep up with a BMW 330i, think they 'accidently' dropped a 225 1.8T in it lol.
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  18. NWMark
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    NWMark Member

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    [Jan 10, 2006]
    i remember that too JoJo if you look in back issues of Autocar the stats for it are almost exactly the same as the S3's yet the skoda was only meant to have 180bhp.

    Autocar did pick up on it though and it had a small write up in the news section a month or so later /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    Mark
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  19. neil.c
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    neil.c Senior

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    [Jan 13, 2006]
    Top gear did do a test of the S3 it was done by VBH and it was put up against a 328 BMW. S3 was a hoot and the BMW would be suitable for her grandad /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
    #18
  20. marctwo
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    marctwo Member

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    [Jan 13, 2006]
    [ QUOTE ]
    i remember that too JoJo if you look in back issues of Autocar the stats for it are almost exactly the same as the S3's yet the skoda was only meant to have 180bhp.

    Autocar did pick up on it though and it had a small write up in the news section a month or so later /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

    Mark

    [/ QUOTE ]

    The vRS is certainly quicker than the official Skoda figures. I went to the Isle of Man with a mate that has one and could not get away from him. Remember it is lighter and has less transmission loss than the S3.
    #19

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