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Drove a Ford StreetKA on holiday last week ...

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by benw123, Sep 25, 2005.

  1. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    ... and - believe it or not - I'm feeling pretty low about my Sportback right now! Not because I can't peel off the Audi's roof, or particularly have a fondness for cheap, hard plastics, but because I've discovered two things; one, what truly constitutes a proper handling front-drive car, and two, how important the driving experience is to me.

    My fiancée and I spent last week in and around Nice, southern France. When we arrived at Europcar to collect our rental for the week, for no reason at all the girl offered us the StreetKA for no extra charge! We've rented convertibles in the States before which we fun, so we took up the offer.

    First off, the little Ford doesn't impress for the best part of £13k. The interior quality is very poor; it's not just the hard plastic, it's the visible casting edges you can see where the interior shapes have been pressed that marks it down. The 1.6 engine was noisy and slow, and the gearshift, while very quick across the gate, whined all the time.

    But the car seriously redeemed itself for the handling which was just sensational. I used to run a Ford Puma for a couple of years and the StreetKA's chassis just brought it all flooding back. Direct turn-in, excellent steering feel, total lack of understeer and perfect balance. It worked all the better on the smooth French roads. We drove along the Col De Turini (where the Monte Carlo WRC stage is run) and I was totally immersed in the drive! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue_out.gif

    However, the experience has dented my faith in my Sportback, in what I've always considered a tidy handling-car, if a little staid. It's kind of put things in perspective for me; at the time we ordered our SE, I believed that build-quality, reliability, residual values, running costs (and yes, image) were now important for me. But it's not; I forgot about the driving experience which I've now realised is so crucial. Driving the Sportback day-to-day is indeed very cossetting, and with the lack of a long commute any more, I just haven't noticed how poor the Audi's dynamics are.

    Of course, there's no-one to blame for this but myself for choosing to buy the Sportback, but geez - what an eye-opener!
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  3. Eeef
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    Eeef Lord of War

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    With all due respect Ben, you drive an SE which,IMHO, is a boat. The streetka is supposed to have a sporty feel, so compare it to a similar Audi, an SLine. I understand that there is a bit of a price difference ford/audi but if you feel a bit disheartened with the SE, try and get a test drive in an Slinean let us now how you feel. I'd be interested for one as I don't think I've come across a better handling fwd car.
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  4. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    I don't think I've come across a better handling fwd car.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Are you sure? That's some statement. Previous to my Sportback, I drove a Focus ST170, and before that, the Puma. We test-drove the Sport before ordering the Sportback SE, but instead of secure handling, the Sport's ride just felt harsh. My point is, I can't imagine any Sportback derivative would get anywhere near the two Fords in terms of driver involvement, and we're still some way from the best FWD cars as well.
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  5. cosmicblue
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    cosmicblue Member

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    2006 MY Sportbacks - (Sport and S-Line IIRC) have revised supension settings to "improve ride quality and increase driving agility" according to some Audi blurb I read the other day.

    That sounds like a corporate admission that things were not quite right?
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  6. madvw
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    madvw Active Member

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    it needed something... the 3 sportbacks i've driven recently kinda had the felling that if i turned the wheel, the car would keep going straight...
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  7. cdb2
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    cdb2 Member

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    [Sep 25, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    2006 MY Sportbacks - (Sport and S-Line IIRC) have revised supension settings to "improve ride quality and increase driving agility" according to some Audi blurb I read the other day.

    That sounds like a corporate admission that things were not quite right?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I thought the 2006 changes were only on the 3 dr, to give it the same suspension set-ups the Sportback had from day one.
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  8. cosmicblue
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    cosmicblue Member

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    [ QUOTE ]
    2006 MY Sportbacks - (Sport and S-Line IIRC) have revised supension settings to "improve ride quality and increase driving agility" according to some Audi blurb I read the other day.

    That sounds like a corporate admission that things were not quite right?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I thought the 2006 changes were only on the 3 dr, to give it the same suspension set-ups the Sportback had from day one.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I believe (and some of the latest Sportback comments on here have confirmed that the Sport/S-Line ride quality is markedly better) that the A3 2006 MY 3 door announcement also included the Sportback:

    "Benefiting from suspension and steering enhancements, new alloy wheel choices and additional S line sports styling options, the 2006 Model Year A3 range is available to order ..... First deliveries to UK customers are expected in July."



    Oh yes and my wife has a regular Ka - dodgy build quality but the handling is sublime and positively encourages hooligan activity /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
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  9. Eeef
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    Eeef Lord of War

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    hmmm, to be honest my experience od Audis has all been 3dr, not sportbacks, but I stand by my original statement.
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  10. h5djr
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    h5djr Well-Known Member VCDS Map User

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    The ride quality of the Sportback S-Line I had as a courtesy car last week was much better than the original Sport versions I tried back in March 2004. It was because those Sports versions were so harsh that I went for the SE.

    But having said that, if I had to choose again now I would still choose the SE as the best compromise for me personally.
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  11. simonl
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    simonl Member

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    Benw123, you have one choice. Bite the bullet, sell it and buy a 5dr GTI, then you'l experience truely great handling and best of all... FUN!!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif
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  12. cdb2
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    cdb2 Member

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    Had a look on Tyresmoke re 2006 Sportback changes as this was discussed on there in length.

    Essentially they say Audi have installed the updated facelifted A3 3 dr with the same suspension that is being used on the Sportback. The updated suspension being less firm, and feels better sorted than the early A3s. Concensus being that Sportback suspension left alone, A3 3 dr updated to what is being used on SB.

    If you look under (http://www.audi.co.uk/company/pressrelease.jsp?id=14242&backPage=presscentre)

    you'll see an article titled "05.05.2005 NEW LOOK FOR 2006 THREE-DOOR AUDI A3 RANGE - Styling revisions and detail changes enhance the latest three-door A3 range. "

    which goes onto say "Three-door A3 adopts single frame grille in line with 5-door A3 Sportback, and benefits from sports suspension revisions, a new optional S line exterior styling upgrade and new wheel choices". It says further on the changes are only on the Sport and Sline variants.

    Someone on Tyresmoke also confirmed they had been to their dealer and had a look at their spec changes sheet from 2005 to 2006 for the A3 Sportback.

    Added/new features:

    New key fob design the same as the A6

    Comfort improvement for rear seats, however this leads to a 20 litre reduction in storage capacity when seats are down.

    Roof antenna in brilliant black (I assume this is for sat nav)

    Enhanced ESP / steering weight adjustment

    removed:

    Grey shade band has been removed from standard spec.

    Options:

    Grey shade band now available with rain and light sensor pack

    Sports seats now available in fine nappa leather in black, light grey and red

    Vienna leather no longer available in red

    S-line styling pack available

    Hill hold function

    Privacy pack
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  13. RobB
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    RobB Member

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    The suspension on my new 2006 Sportback 3.2 SLine is significantly better than my old '05 model 3 door 3.2 SLine. Nowhere near as harsh - still firm enough but more compliant. Considerably harder riding than the Sport version with 17" wheels though but I expect that to be down to the tyre profile as much as it being slightly lower.

    However, the steering, although too light and pretty unengaging on my previous car now feels like it is not connected to anything whatsoever.
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  14. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    Benw123, you have one choice. Bite the bullet, sell it and buy a 5dr GTI, then you'l experience truely great handling and best of all... FUN!!!! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]
    LeMan, the GTI is all I think about these days. I just wish I'd waited a few months before ordering the Sportback to see how well the press received the GTI. For what I spent gently speccing up my Sportback SE, I could have had a nicely-loaded GTI instead.

    I still would merrily sell up and order one, but I'm getting married this February, and after that we're planning to move house. So the Sportback will stay!

    As for the difference between the 3-dr and Sportback for handling, I doubt they'd be much in it - and in any case, I do know the humble StreetKA would still wipe them out for driver involvement, no question! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif
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  15. simonl
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    simonl Member

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    [Sep 26, 2005]
    Dude, been there, done it (TWICE!!!), I bought a BMW 3 series sport for 26k, sold it 6 months later for 21k, then i bought an A3 3.2 V6 for 26k and sold that 18 months later for 20k! Now i have a GTI coming, thank feck i can finally get a car that will put a smile back on my face and one i can keep! Sure it's cost me a fortune (which i don't have) to find something I really like, but you can't put a price on fun. There's only one thing worse than paying off a car loan, that's paying one off on a car you regret. If you want a GTI, just order one, she'll get over it by the time it comes!
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  16. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    [Sep 27, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    [ QUOTE ]
    I don't think I've come across a better handling fwd car.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Are you sure? That's some statement. Previous to my Sportback, I drove a Focus ST170, and before that, the Puma. We test-drove the Sport before ordering the Sportback SE, but instead of secure handling, the Sport's ride just felt harsh. My point is, I can't imagine any Sportback derivative would get anywhere near the two Fords in terms of driver involvement, and we're still some way from the best FWD cars as well.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    It is some statement that.

    My sportback S-line is an ok handling motor (miles better than my A4 sport) but it's still a 'remote' experience which is obviously deliberately designed to err towards safety more than fun.
    I've had several FWD cars that handle better than the A3.
    Of course,'better' means different things to different people but,IMO,it comes down to feel.
    There is zero feel in the A3 (my Golfs were the same,so it's obviously a trait of the VAG) which,ultimately,leaves me a bit cold.
    I'm sure I'm probably just as quick A to B in my A3 as I was in my Alfa 156 (for example) but the Alfa always left me smiling and feeling like I had actually had some input in the drive,which I think the Audi lacks somewhat.
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  17. benw123
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    benw123 Moderator

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    [Sep 27, 2005]
    [ QUOTE ]
    It is some statement that.

    My sportback S-line is an ok handling motor (miles better than my A4 sport) but it's still a 'remote' experience which is obviously deliberately designed to err towards safety more than fun.
    I've had several FWD cars that handle better than the A3.
    Of course,'better' means different things to different people but,IMO,it comes down to feel.
    There is zero feel in the A3 (my Golfs were the same,so it's obviously a trait of the VAG) which,ultimately,leaves me a bit cold.
    I'm sure I'm probably just as quick A to B in my A3 as I was in my Alfa 156 (for example) but the Alfa always left me smiling and feeling like I had actually had some input in the drive,which I think the Audi lacks somewhat.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    Beautifully put. That sums up how I feel about the Sportback I think. I should never have under-estimated how important driver input is to me personally. I'm sure the Sportback can take apart a B-road as well as many other hatchbacks, but it's a soulless experience as best. Dispite Audi trying to purport an image of prestige sportiness, the truth is driving thrills can be had for half the price.
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