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Clarkson reviews S3 in Sunday Times...

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by Irish, May 13, 2007.

  1. prt57

    prt57 Active Member

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    I have a Mk IV Golf GTI and after owning it for nearly 10 years still think that it is a super car with an excellent upmarket interior with 150bhp.
    The new R32 came out and I tried to like it but felt that the interior had become cheaper and the outside did look a bit bling. I visited every dealer in the West Midlands to look again and again. I even went down to St Albans just to have a look at a red one. I liked the engine note very much but kept on thinking that there should be more power to go with the noise. After about a year of trying to make up my mind an S3 arrived at my local dealer. After a quick 20 min drive on the Saturday and then 2 hours on the Sunday I went straight back in and paid my deposit.
    With all reviews it is the personal view of the reviewer. My suggestion is that you try out cars that you can afford and then make up your own mind.

    prt57
     
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  3. madvw

    madvw Active Member

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    no way is the S3 worth the money, not when you compare it to what else you can get for the same money. Performance wise that is.

    With it's high base spec, it is however a very nice car, but you're going to have to pay for it if you want one.

    if i had the money to spend right now, i'd be buying a new v6 alfa spider.

    if i was forced between an r32 and an s3, I don't know what i'd choose.
     
  4. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

     
  5. TheWusMan

    TheWusMan Member

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    Well, if it's any consolation, the April TG magazine (JC and his team) have a pic of the new S5 : Caption to go with it reads "Boring Coupe" and the verbage on the same page alludes to the fact that it's based on the upcoming B8 A4 platform ... and if this is the case they conclude.... "oh dear.":think:

    Well if the S5 is boring .... the new 3 series coupe is an exercise in cold sloppy macaroni and cheese. (ie. Tasteless).:ermm:

    Magazines and journo's love to stir some sh1t every so often .... the article linked to in this post is no different. It's an opinion, and everyone else is entitled to theirs as well. JC was cleary suffering from a hangover when he wrote that piece IMHO.
     
  6. copperband

    copperband Member

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    I remeber when the 350z came out, he absolutely slated on Top Gear taking great delight in pulling it apart and showing the shoddy build quality and going on about what a poor ride it was, how it didn't represent a modern age version of the Z car at all.......Then low and behold in the TG magazine he and the others all loved it:think: Perhaps it was in a different colour for the mag:ohmy:
     
  7. marriedblonde

    marriedblonde Active Member

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    The one he drove on top gear wasn't UK spec, the suspension and interior where all changed when it was launched in the Uk. So in effect it was a different car they reviewed in the magazine that addressed all the areas he moaned about... ;)
     
  8. Dan Gliballs

    Dan Gliballs Active Member

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    Out of interest, how many people on here have driven the new S3 AND the new R32?
     
  9. hardcore Hallam

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    I've driven both, I also owned the old R32, which I chopped in for my new S3. They're both great cars and there's not much between them. I loved the torque of the R32, you can practically dive it with-out having to change gear. The down side of that, is the weight, on our bumpy roads it doesn't seem to handle quite as well, even though the suspension feels harder. You can basically run over a coin and tell whether it's heads or tails. :) The S3 feels alot more agile but does suffer with turbo lag, which is really noticeable after driving a V6.
    With me, it just came down to the fact that I'd already had a R32 and fancied something different, I also liked the idea that you're less likely to see as many S3s on the road. I also think the old R32 looks better than the new one.
     
  10. Dan Gliballs

    Dan Gliballs Active Member

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    Excellent, and fair play to YOU sir :)

    But I'll bet a packet of crisps that most on here haven't driven both to compare ;)
     
  11. Amchlolor

    Amchlolor Active Member

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    In the true context of the thread,it's irrelevant.
    The true context of the thread is that Clarkson doesn't rate the S3 very much and some S3 owners are 'spitting the dummy' over it.
    Some are even doubting HE drove the car,such is their disbelief that he isn't gushing about it !
    His findings regarding the 'woolly handling' are consistent with pretty much all Audis though,so that's easy to believe.
    As others have said though,he has the benefit of driving cars with superlative set-ups,so the 'safe',mass-produced and built-by-the-lowest-bidder suspension of the S3 will probably feel vague.
    I'd probably think it was great,compared with my car.
    It's all relative and subjective.
     
  12. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    Me too...

    I had the old S3 and a couple of years ago toyed with changing to the MK4 R32 - took 3 out for a test drive convincing myself that I was testing bad one's, but just couldn't get used to the V6. Yes it has a lot more torque at the bottom of the rev range, but seemed like it ran out of puff further up the rev range and didn't feel very 'refined' for a v engine. PLUS, the interior wasn't as nice as my old S3's so I hung on to that.

    When the MK5 R32 came out I took that for a test and though the interior was nicer than the MK4 I still couldn't get on with the V6. It felt very heavy at the front, seemed to bob on undulating roads and when spcced with leather and a few toys it was creeping up to about £28,500.....

    .... bringing me on to the conclusion I should wait till I could test a new S3. So when I took this out for a drive I was far happier with the engine, I think I've spent so long with forced induction that I prefer the power at the top end. OK, it might not sound as nice as a V6 (but it sounds way better than the last S3 - especially the over run you sometimes get around 4k rpm), the turbo lag, though present, is far less imposing than on the old S3 and the when the turbo builds from just after 2k rpm then full boost from about 2.5k rpm you have power all the way to the redline, never running out of steam.

    The interior is better than the golfs - but only when you spec some of the toys standard on the golf - but that's a personal thing and I do think they could have done more on the S3 for the price.
    The brakes are better - probs the best i've experienced on an Audi and I've had a drive of most.
    The suspension, is forgiving enough to be comfortable on the motorway, but firms up really well on the twisties -resisting under steer and the haldex works much quicker sorting everything out.

    So I bought one!

    I guess the point is all reviews of the S3, though mixed follow a common theme.
    All pretty much say it's a rocket
    All say it's a great interior
    All say the brakes are good
    All say the ride is controlled and good for fast driving
    All say it's too expensive - however stick it against an R32, with DSG, leather, upgraded sereo, armrest and you're at over £28k, add sat nav and you're nudging £30k..... S3 has an expensive base price then, but comes with a lot of luxury kit as standard!!!

    So it depends on what is most important in a car to you. Some of the comments above are completely right - this same thread in an R32 forum will be saying they drove the S3 and thought it was rubbish "all that lag" and they have a point compared to the R32. Everyone has driven both and chosen the car they wanted because it felt great to them and that's all that is important. Personal preference!!!

    Phew!!!!
     
  13. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    I'm not sure it's that bowfer, I think it's more JC's editorial freedom means he sometimes goes off on a tangent and fails to put things in perspective.
    I for one find the guy ammusing, and laughed reading the S3 article as I was sturggling to work out where on earth he was going with it.
    Everyone's open to their opinion, but I found the conclusion a little unfair - there is a v6 A3, he failed to spot the effort Audi put into taking weight off the front end, he loves the 2.0tfsi in a golf gti haliing it as one of the best engines on the planet if I recall, but slates it in the S3, it's just a bit inconsistent. I wouldn't change him though!

    BUT I do think the S3 is one of those cars.
    Autocar love the S3
    Car didn't rate it
    Evo and Top Gear thought it was too expensive - but then run an R32 worth slightly more than a base S3!

    I bought it because I liked it and i'm still loving it now!
     
  14. Dan Gliballs

    Dan Gliballs Active Member

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    Not in MY opinion it's not ;)

    "I'd have an S3 over an R32 anyday" is fair comment as all this is highly subjective (especially as far as aesthetics go)..

    But, it holds a lot more weight if some of these people had actually bothered to DRIVE/EXPERIENCE/LIVE-WITH both the alternative stable-mates.
     
  15. james0808

    james0808 Active Member

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    I thought the S3 and R32 brakes was the same?
     
  16. JamS3

    JamS3 Active Member

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    I think he meant over the old S3?
     
  17. JamS3

    JamS3 Active Member

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    Like I said he didn't moan about the cost of the original at 27k in 1999 and the new one costs the same base price!
     
  18. copperband

    copperband Member

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    As in a lot of parts of the country my local dealerships for VW and Audi are next to eachother so I went to look at both and make a direct comparison, I took my brother with me who is a VW lover, I went feeling I would like the Audi more but open minded.

    Outside of both first - the colours, the styling,wheels,etc. I prefered the shape of the S3 to the Golfs more jelly mold shape.There was no colour that stood out at me in the Golf offereing whereas both the sprint Blue and white stood out to me in the S3. Wheelswise I wasn't overly struck on either ( I think BMW have some great wheels at the moment on their new 3 series,shame about the rest of the car!)

    Inside - the aesthetics,options and quality of finish. I thought the Golf looked more mass market and didn't feel overly special, I couldn't believe that leather was such as expensive option (cloth is not an option with 2 dogs!) There also seemd to be less as standard with the Golf which I found a bit baffleing given the history of the 2 marques.The Audi seemd to have nicer finish to it and felt better quality however I didn't like the stupid bit of plastic that went around the centre console that my knees seemed to rub against on the test drive. In all, both fairly even but with no leather and a slightly lesser finish on the Golf the Audi had the edge again.

    Salesperson - Both pretty good and knowledgeable but the Vw guy kept telling me all about his R32 that was tuned to over 400bhp,etc,etc.He ws clearly and enthusiast but his endless tales of tuning left me thinking that perhaps the golf needed all that work to make it such a great car that he felt it was?Interestingly neither had driven the competitor car which to me seems crazy, sales should be about testing and knowing all about your competition (strengths,weakenesses,etc) The only think the VW guy said when I mentioned the Audi was how common the S3 was compared to the R32,he based that purely on the fact that the R32 was due for replacement later in the year and therefore less of the R32's would actually be manufactured this yr vs the S3??

    I then test drove the Audi which felt completely different to my current BMW 330Cd (Superchipped) but then I expected that because of the diesels lower rev range.It was a completely different drive,felt faster in places,less in others which I guess now having read through this that perhaps that is down to the turbo lag? I really liked the handling though and the 4wd. I returned to the garage then went back to look at the golf and thought to myself it can't drive any better than what I've just driven (huge assumption) doesn't look as nice, is going to be equally as expensive when equally specced and at the end of the day one is a mass market car (Golf not R32) and one is a more prestige slightly less mass market.

    ...so I bought the S3, on reflection I should have driven the Golf just to satisfy my curiosity but even if I have prefered the drive I think I still could have choosen the Audi!

    I am still a bit worried about the lag but I think that can be cured with another Superchip:idea:
     
  19. stevehsv868

    stevehsv868 Unofficial Audi UK Endurance Test Driver

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    Bloody Clarkson ,
    how he goes on about rubish at the start, then introduces rediculous comments like " why not the exquisite, light and compact V8 from the RS4? " how could you ever put the V8 FSI into a A3 without redesigning the entire drivetrain, and floor pan.

    and what would a hatchback drive like with that much power, remember power is nothing without control.

    I think the S3 is a fantastic car,

    and at least it will complete a journey, unlike jezza's old GT 40
     
  20. JamS3

    JamS3 Active Member

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    Must be me but alot of people seem to go on about the lag which I dont really notice? Dont know whether its because the last 4 cars I have had (not inc my new S3) have been turbocharged and I'm used to the power delivery but I wouldn't say it needs a superchip to sort it!
     
  21. copperband

    copperband Member

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    I must admit I didn't find I noticed it on the testdrive, I just noticed a different power delivery vs my 330Cd. I remember when I had a TT for a few weeks that it was very noticable and to be honest in any car if you're not in the correct gear and thus below the rev range where the turbo comes in then it will crawl along, 6th gear in my BMW is terrible like that and why I often don't use it!
     
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  23. AL_B

    AL_B Active Member

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    Great reading this thread.

    Its just typical Clarkson isn't it. :) Lets face it, if he had directed his comments at a Matiz or Micra etc. We'd all be laughing. But because its directed at our choice of car...its hard to accept.

    Not bothered personally. The car is absolutely rapid!! The engine has many ranges too. When I test drove a demonstrator a while ago, I said back then that it was laggy. But my car isn't really. Well, not yet anyway. No worse than my previous 8L S3. If you let yourself get in the wrong gear, then yes, you will experience a bit of lag. But that could happen in any turbo'd car. The car is smooth at town speeds too, very easy to drive, pottering along in 4th at 30mph. If you are in a gear where revs are approx 2500 rpm, throttle and engine response is instant, no lag. The car just flies.

    I can understand to some extent is "whooly" comment. The handling is good, don't get me wrong. But the ride is a lot more compliant than my old S3, which is giving me a sense of softness/vagueness. It just feels a little floaty to me, on the country lanes I have been on recently. Yet on other roads, with less crests, it feels planted. But its still early days and no doubt I will learn its handling characteristics.

    Brakes and steering are excellent.

    Problem I am having is getting used to the very light clutch pedal and floor mounted accelerator, finding it hard to match revs with engine speed.

    AL
     
  24. TTLAW

    TTLAW Member

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    I don't get excited about negative reviews.

    I have owned 7 Mk1 TT's which Clarkson hated and thought were fashion accessories.

    It is all down to personal preference. Every review is really about someones own opinion. Look at other aspects of life like art etc. Some modern art is raved about and I would throw it in the bin. In movies the critics panned Titanic but it made more money than a 3rd world country clears in 10 years!

    BMW's are the ultimate driving machines for some. I hate rear wheel drive!

    If you are happy about your car what anyone else thinks really means very little.

    It is strange that Mr C liked the 2.0T TT better than the 3.2 but the tables arer reversed in the R32 v S3. They cannot event agree with themselves!

    Steve
     
  25. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    They are a million times better than the old S3 - that cars achilles heel in my opinion.
    There also better than the mkv R32 - heavy V6 to haul in as well on that car remember.
    mkv R32 - 1590kg
    S3 - 1455kg

    I had them starting rumble on a mkv after a few quick stops.

    I think the S3 has better competition spec pads as well - read that somewhere, though could be bull/s
     
  26. jamiekip

    jamiekip Guest

    I agree mate - it's a turbo, so you're always going to feel a kick in the back when things come on boost - I think this is what people are mistaking for the lag, ie, they feel the full torque come on tap.

    I think the lag isn't bad at all - any gear and it responds well, below the turbo's range, the engine has good pull even from as low as 1250-1500rpm.

    When I first test drove the car I didn't think it felt like a full 260bhp is it was all happening without much fuss, then you look at the speedo.......
     
  27. RGS3

    RGS3 Member

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  28. TTLAW

    TTLAW Member

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    You need to read the Autocar review then. "The best car Audi has produced"

    Steve
     
  29. Irish

    Irish Member

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    I drove the MKV R32 prior to buying the S3. I felt the ride height and interior let the R down but the engine note coupled with DSG made it a great car to just floor it and GO! The fact that the S3 is considerably lower in height makes it feel a lot more sports car like I think.

    I still think the R looks fantastic, I just can't see how anyone can make out the two cars are so different.
     
  30. hardcore Hallam

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    One quick addition to the S3 Vs R32 debate. For some reason, the insurance on my new S3 (when it finally arrives) is half the price of my old R32???
     
  31. EAGLE79

    EAGLE79 Member

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    its because your an old git now hallam.... They think your going to crawl around in 5th at 1500rpm with water dripping out the exhaust.... LOL

    Either that or they've heard about the beast your drivin at the moment until your S3 turns up.... you boys all arguin over lag and power....

    You feel the kick off Hallams 1.1L fiesta....
     
  32. stuartcalder

    stuartcalder New Member

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    I have owned a first generation S3, and I now own a new generation S3. Interestingly Clarkson wrote very favourably at the time of the launch of the first S3, when he intimated that it was undervalued by other car journmalists and often overlooked as a driver's car. He clearly enjoyed driving it.

    I have also driven my son's R32 extensively.

    In my mind, there is no doubt that on smooth windy roads the new S3 has superb handling and licks the R32. It has better turn it, less roll, and a shifts power to the rear more readily. However, on winding, undulating, bumpy roads, my new S3 struggles to get the power down and the R32 leaves it behind. The damping can't seem to cope with a series of rises in quick succession and a rear wheel will often lift around a bumpy corner, where the R32 will remain composed. You can get a safer idea of this by tanking down a straight undulating roller coaster road, with the rises occurring in quick succession. The S3 becomes flustered and the rear end will float, while the R32 will remain firmly planted.

    That said, I love my new S3. All cars are a compromise. It's just a question of finding the one that suits you the best.
     
  33. JamS3

    JamS3 Active Member

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    Interesting.....wonder if lowering it would help?
     
  34. Shao_khan

    Shao_khan Member

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    I saw the S5 comments - and TBH they are pretty much opposite to every other review I have read, with several claiming if the new A4 is built off of this then it will be a huge step forward.

    I've drive both cars. I owned a Mk4 Golf GTi and R32, looked at MK5 but tbh felt they had become cheaper, they didnt feel as highquality to me, I found the S3 pushes all the right buttons, I love the V6 sound, but actually prefer the turbo drive, I like the 'sudden rush'.
     
  35. stevie_d

    stevie_d New Member

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    Not driven both admittedly, but I've owned a MKV GTI and currently an 8P S3.

    For me the build quality in the MKV was a joke, before anyone argues just try pressing the centre console near the aircon controls and remember this is a £25k car...

    Anyway, from my experience the GTI was slighty better to drive, but in ALL other aspects the S3 is the better car (again, imo).

    As all press reports (and mates reports) I've ever read/heard on the R32 say the GTI drives better, I can conclude the the S3 is a better car...

    But, this is all in my opinion, as someone said earlier, who really cares? I bought the S3 because I love the car. I am sure the lads/lasses who have bought the R32 also love the car, that's what matters :)
     
  36. Plank

    Plank Member

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    I have to agree with Bowfer (and to a degree with Clarkson).

    For the £22k I had to play with, the A3 sportback TDi beat the Golf hands-down, because a 22k Golf would have the same engine, a poorer interior, a poorer image, less appealing looks, etc (all in my opinion!).

    However for £30k, the 6 cylinder advantage would probably swing me the other way. But thats just me - Out and out speed bores the pants off me - I've been there and done that. I personally would get more "satisfaction" from the sound and smoothness of a nice creamy V6 than from a 4 cylinder.

    Those who rate pure performance above other factors would go for the most powerful (i.e. the S3). Those who rate performance even higher on the list would spend their £30k on something Japanese, and would put up with naff interior etc.

    Each to their own.

    As Bowfer and Married Blonde have alluded to, most S3 owners are biased towards the S3, because it obviously fits their criteria better than any other car (thats why they bought it). But they shouldn't be fooled into thinking that everyone's criteria is the same.
     
  37. murray

    murray murray

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    I drove both the R32 and the S3 and also the BMW 130i. I enjoyed driving the BMW: very go kart like and the seats and diving position were excellent. Just could not get used to the design or the lower quality of finish.

    Tried the Golf GTi next, not enough power for me.

    Then tried the R32. Much nicer quality build and design than the 130i but nose heavy and not that refined. I only tried a DSG version, did not much like the DSG. I was put off by an arrogant salesman who was quoting 12 months delivery (this was April 2006). By adding some options to the R32 the price was not that much different to the S3.

    Waited for the S3 and test drove one in November 2006. Compared to the golf it was light and nimble. True it does not sound quite as nice. Build quality and design of the S3 is in my opinion much better that the R32 and there was no comparing the dealer experience.

    I now have just under 2K on the S3 and can say that it is very enjoyabel to drive, involving if you want it to be or laid back if not, also very comfortable and practical if you don't mind 3 doors.

    I have no regrets!
     
  38. Spin140

    Spin140 Well-Known Member

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    I've had the last 4 cars remapped by superchips so am a fan, the S3 does not suffer from turbo lag and will probably be the first car I don't remap in the last 4 years - IMO its that good :)
     
  39. sprintbluemoon

    sprintbluemoon New Member

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    My first post!!!!

    I've driven old and new S3, R32 and BMW130i.

    I chopped my old S3 (210bhp) in for a BMW130i M Sport late last year.

    The 130i was a great car. Superb engine in terms of sound, pull AND top end power. Sublime handling. Decent quality. BUT after years of driving the old S3, 4WD was missed in winter. Yes I had to think!
    Main problem though was the driving position. The clutch sits centre with brake and accelerator off to the right. I though it would be OK.....
    BUT after a few months of ownership, this and the possible contribution of the rock hard ride did my back no favours at all. So regrettably it had to go.

    I then decided I couldn't yet justify getting the S3 so I looked at the R32.
    OK 6 cylinder soundtrack but seemed rough, slow and ponderous after the 130i. It reminded me of the old VR6 which I used to own.

    And the instant MPG figures I saw were frightening, backed up by the official figures being 5-10 worse than the 130i.

    Luckily the poor trade-ins I was offered on the BMW drove me to test drive the S3 just in case it was that much better than the R32.

    It was.

    Engine. S3 has the power but still reminds me of an old Sierra sound-wise. Turbo lag is there but after a day or two I got used to it again.
    Handling. Suprised at how well the S3 turns in at speed. 130i betters it though especially at low speed. R32 distant 3rd.
    Otherwise, the S3 romps it.
    More comfortable, more quality and equipment so not bad value especially with resale (130i will plummet, R32 won't match S3). Got a decent deal on an 07 ex-demo - basically £3k of extras for nowt for being 2nd owner.

    And it's Sprint Blue, which I lick several times a day. So I'm back in the Audi camp....but if the 130i didn't do my back in I'd still be loving it....
     
  40. normski

    normski Member

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    On page 19 of today's Sun is Clarkson's column...

    In onepart he answers back at critics who suggest he will be pro Audi after being there guest at some bash...so his reply "...the S3 is not a very nice car..." no qualification, nothing...good journalism...not
     
  41. edward_harris

    edward_harris s3 gone now a shiney red evo 6

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    did anyone pick up on the rs3 bit in the article? he mentions the rs3 will follow in a few years? so is this conformation of an rs3?
     
  42. TDI-line

    TDI-line Uber Post Whore
    Team Floret Silver quattro Audi A3 Black Edition TDi

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    Nah, this is just a big wooden spoon stirring...:motz:
     

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