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My 2010 S3 Sportback thread

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by Ben H, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    I picked up my S3 recently after a wait of 7 weeks. The wait was agonisingly long due to problems with transferring my plate - but here it is at last, along with some early impressions.

    It's a June 2010 S-Tronic model, complete with the Technology pack (RNS-E, Bluetooth, AMI and CD stacker), Bose and roof rails. The car was a VW UK management car - not a press car thankfully - and has been sat around at the dealership since January, with 9k on the clock. Oh, and I've Bluefinned it from day 2.:jump:

    The S3 Sportback is pretty much my dream car on paper, so it's got a lot to live up to! I've spent the best part of 2 years working out whether I could afford one and trying to justify the £15k gap between it and my old 2006 A3 2.0T quattro S-Line. I live in a city centre and share the car with my wife and small child, so a compact, easy-to-drive and (for me) fast car is the ideal package.

    I'll get the pictures out of the way now, because that's what I most want to see when I read these sorts of threads! :rolleyes: I'm afraid they were taken at 8pm on my street and not in the best light - scenic pics to follow after I'm next at my parents' place:

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    [​IMG][​IMG] I wasn't looking for an automatic and this is my first, so that dominates my first impressions. I was seduced on the test drive and the S-Tronic makes a lot of sense for town driving and for my wife, who always seems to be in the wrong gear.:slapped: It's a very smooth system and is helps create the overall impression of this S3 being considerably more docile than my old 2.0T quattro at lower speed. The shifter will select 4th gear at 20mph when driving smoothly!

    Of course, I've also played with the Sport function and I'm happy to report that it's capable of being a real animal, despite what I said above. I'm not sure if it's to do with the manual -v- automatic comparison, but the S3 seems less torquey in the 1,500 to 2,500rpm band. Above that though, the S3 mauls my old car. I also get the impression that the smoothness masks the acceleration, because the numbers on the speedo come up very quickly and with little effort. I also need to learn how to use launch control and generally drive an automatic properly.

    In many ways, the ultimate performance of this car is a bit academic. I'll be honest and say that it's been quite hard to find a situation where I can safely use all the acceleration that 300+bhp gives, or exploit the handling fully. (Just as well that I didn't get an RS4 then!). I forgave my old 2.0T quattro for not having French hot hatch handling but I'm giving the S3 a little less slack as it's meant to be the pumped-up model.

    I've not taken the S3 on my home Welsh roads yet, but the A3 did surprise me though and the S3 is definitely an upgrade on that - plus the ride and damping are better too. The noises are also very sporting, without being obtrusive or OTT and I love the "pop" that the S-Tronic gives with hard gear changes.

    The rest of the car is pretty much as my A3 was, although the Nappa leather is a lot softer than Vienna leather and the doors and boot on this 2010 car shut with a more determined thunk than the 2006 car. Small things, like bigger wing mirrors, are better on the 8P3 too. The S3 also adds RNS-E and the Music Interface, which baffle me at the moment and will take some time to learn how to use fully. I need to buy an SD card for starters!

    My old car was Garet Red and so Brilliant Red on the S3 is quite different - photos don't seem to do either colour justice, but the Brilliant Red is very "loud" in comparison, especially on a sunny day like today. The S3's bodywork is as you'd expect for a low-miler, but I'll invest in a proper detail soon.

    I'm obviously a bit worried given all the threads on this site about it being stolen and wing mirrors being taken - not to mention the general hard time cars get on a city centre street and my wife's love of kerbing wheels. But hey, I'm never going to own a car like this unless I face my fears and live my dreams (as the old '90s No Fear T-shirt says)!!!
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2011
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  2. Paullie
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    Paullie Banana Menace!

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    Beautiful car you got there Matey, enjoy it! :)

    Paulie
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  3. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    I thought I should finally update this thread with a mix of the stuff that I've kept a log of about in my Pistonheads "Garage" for my S3 and some of the things I've written here over the last year. This is with a view to showing what it's like living with an S3 Sportback in the long term rather than any special project (for now at least), but I hope it's still interesting however in turns out.

    October 2011

    Getting "time off" can be a bit of a drag when you have kids, but I managed to do so in that amazing week of sunny weather we had for a big mountain bike ride in Dartmoor. I'd owned the S3 for 5 months by this stage, but this was my first chance to get out for a really good drive and take some pics!

    I took the road up from the A38 through Bovey Tracy and up to the Warren House Inn with the windows down all the way. Even in standard form, the S3 sounds great and the sunshine really brought the best out in the Brilliant Red paintwork (which I've had on / off thoughts about since buying the car).

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    #3
  4. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    January 2012
    A3 1.2 TSI -v- S3: comparing the bottom and top of the range!

    I had been hoping for at least an R8 as a courtesy car when dropping my S3 S-Tronic off for one of its two "free" services at Bristol Audi this morning. So my heart sank a little as I was handed the handed the keys to a 1.2 SE S-Tronic. Boasting 104bhp / 129 lb.ft to my S3's 300+ of each, the A3 was going to be an "interesting" way to spend the 85-mile round trip I had in mind to a nice town for lunch with the wife.

    The day's exam question was therefore to be: how does the almost bottom-of-the-range A3 (£19k) compare to the almost top-of-the-range S3 (£34k)? Does a third of the power and a lot less cash dilute the experience?

    A3 Sportback 1.2 TSI SE S-Tronic
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    S3 Sportback S-Tronic
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    Things got off to a good start once the service lady gave my 2 year old daughter a choc chip biscuit - can't beat Audi service.
    Opening the door to the Scuba Blue A3, I noticed a nice coffee stain to the cat-sick colour interior... don't even think of this interior colour option if you have a family. SE spec and the Comfort Pack meant at least an armrest and a few bits of kit (like rain and parking sensors) that my S3 doesn't have. The cloth interior, stereo and door inlays were obvious downgrades to the interior - but the overall effect wasn't too bad.

    Starting up the engine and selecting gear through the familiar S-Tronic lever, things started feeling good. The 1.2 may only have 104bhp, but with 7 gears to choose from it is always in a smooth and reasonably torquey spot - it's so good that I had to check that I didn't have the 125bhp 1.4 in the paperwork! It's clearly no ball of fire, but I'd say that this is possibly one of the best matched engine and drivetrain combination that I have driven (feels made for S-Tronic more than my S3's engine).

    Part of this was because I was driving smoothly for the day, but it really excelled in the zone of 20% effort for everyday driving. The ride quality on SE suspension was quite nice after owning an S-Line and S3, although it clearly lacked grip and poise compared to my quattro cars. It was also a bit of a surprise to experience wheelspin a few times - quattro makes a real difference even in the dry!

    Overall average fuel consumption for the day was 43.2mpg, compared to about 32mpg that I would have got from the S3 driving in a similar style. This isn't amazingly better than the S3 (which is running AWD too), but I think you'd need to be averaging 47mpg in a TDI to gain any cost advantage over the 1.2. This is something to really think about if you are looking at TDI's, as the 1.2 TSI felt a lot smoother than my own experience of VAG diesels. However, the DIS long-term average was closer to 35mpg - a lot, lot lower than the EU cycle 53mpg (official).

    Getting back into my shiny and freshly serviced S3 at the end of the day, it was nice to be welcomed back to the comforts of leather, Bose sound, RNSE and back-lit display - but I'd certainly consider the 1.2 TSI as an alternative to a TDI or as a car for essential family needs.

    Overall, the 1.2 TSI is a real peach of an engine and very well-matched to 7-speed S-Tronic transmission. SE spec is comfortable and good value at the price, meaning that you get a good-looking and reasonably equipped car. Is it as good as an S3? Obviously not, but it's surprising how three times the power doesn't feel like three times the power...but also that you don't get three times the fuel economy in a 1.2!
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  5. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    February 2012

    A little trip back home to Wales - my first chance in (by that time) 9 months' ownership to get some snaps in the usual spots! Cold day too...
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  6. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    March 2012 - Detailed

    As you will have gathered above, my S3 was a relatively low miler at 9,600 when I bought it at 1 year old. It was an ex-VW UK management car and although clean, it looked to have had barely a clean in the 6 months it was used (judging by the amount of tar) before being offloaded to the Bristol Audi franchise. Unfortunately, it was then in the dealer's hands for another 6 months and treated to some particularly harsh washing before I finally got it! The car was on 15.5k miles when I finally got the finish up to "my standards".

    As many of you will know, Brilliant Red is a great colour when properly cleansed and treated, but it's second only to a flat black like Brilliant Black in its ability to show marks and swirling. I've given the bodywork some good care in the 9 months since getting the car, but it was always clear that I'd need some professional help to get the overall condition to where I wanted it.

    After waiting for winter to pass, I called my usual detailers (Just Detailing Services, based around Bristol) and asked them to give it their best shot. Paul and Darren are well known to me as I've been using them annually on my cars, but they're also fairly big on the Pistonheads scene. My camera isn't especially good, but I hope the following gives you some idea of their work:

    On arrival - looks clean to the average Joe...

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    ...and I only do around 6,000 miles a year, so this was dirty for me (although my mileage is about to go up a lot)


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    Getting down to business with some snow foaming

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    Inside the unit. Getting this far took over an hour and, at this stage, the car was looking very good - at first glance!


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    ...but the amount of tar that was coming off on clay bars and general marring being revealed meant that a level of correction not usual for a car of this age and use was needed - it's only on 15.5k miles remember! As you can see below, the shine is good - but what you can't see is the amount of tar still on the inside of the wheels (no time to take these off for 100% perfection), nor the general swirling and marks in places. These issues were mainly from the 6 months of use and time at the dealer compound before I got the car.

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    The photos aren't great, but the "problem" and solution are best shown by the three following photos of the front wing. The first shows the deep swirls and marring, especially if you let your eye follow the shape of the arch bulge...

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    ...the second shows work in progress - two very careful stages of correction using abrasive polishes and a wool mop were required on the front wings and bonnet
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    ...and finally, Zaino Glare sealant was applied to bring out the shine and add a very durable finish (my priority)
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    A few areas of spot correction were also required, including a quite serious parking scuff to the lower edge of the rear bumper. This mark was about 10 inches long and 6 inches high - now all but gone thanks to some time with fine polishing compounds.

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    The bonnet was the worst panel - shown here after correction, but before final treatment with Glare. I doubt you can see, but this panel was only about 60% corrected in Paul's opinion; enough for me, but just about visible under harsh spotlights. To go further than this, another hour or so of correction would be needed - perhaps next time!!

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    By about 3pm, the correction stage was over - giving this result before final protection and dressings are applied. This side shot also shows to me why some lowering kits for the S3 come only with front lowering springs!!

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    The final hours are mainly spent machining and then hand-applying multiple coats of Glare sealant. With spring upon us, there is enough light coming in from outside to reflect onto the final finish...

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    ...but it seems like a good idea to get some pics outside anyway!

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    An industrial unit on a grey day wouldn't be my first choice for showing off the final result - nor the amazing shine of Brilliant Red - but hopefully you get the idea!

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    In case you are wondering, the car is wearing a pair of AlloyGator protection strips to the wheels on the nearside - these don't look great but have saved several trips to have the alloys refurbished (due to my wife's parking "technique"). In black, they make the wheels look smaller, so I'll take them off when we get a second car for my wife in a few weeks' time.

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    The car was detailed at the site of Infinity Exhausts and South West In-Car Tech, so I had a chance to find out a little more about about Stage 2 tuning and see the quality of their work. I have already started saving!

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    So there we have it - a corrected and finished S3 in what I have learned is a very hard to maintain colour! The overall outcome was a compromise between time, money, the pre-detail condition of the paintwork and ongoing use as the main vehicle for a growing family. I'm very happy with the result though.
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  7. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    April 2012

    I started a new job in March 2012, in a role that meant national travel about 3 times per week. It's often at this point that sensible people think about replacing a car like my S3 with a diesel and, of course, those thoughts came to me too.

    Thankfully, a combination of the not-ridiculously-bad fuel economy of the S3 and (more importantly) me taking the train as much as possible, my fears about hyper business miles were unfounded. That said, I'm on-track - no pun intended - to do about 12,000 miles by train in 2012, plus car mileage of around 5,000.
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  8. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    June 2012 (part 1)

    Rear tyres fitted - Potenza RE050A again. The fronts weren't worn enough to merit going for a set of different tyres all round (as I prefer to keep them all the same), so I stuck with the OE spec.

    Two other quick notes:

    1)

    I'm finally learning how to use the DSG / S-Tronic gearbox properly. Manual mode, where you move the gear lever left, is most effective for "manual" driving (durr!). If I use the paddle shifters in "D" or "S", then the system is very quick to interrupt and return to auto mode, whereas in manual it will not revert to auto mode at all and will only intervene if you redline it or let the revs drop below 1,000rpm. So - you can have a fuller manual experience if you want it, but for all that I can't cover distance quicker than when in full auto mode, nor drive more economically.

    2)

    I'm seriously considering some performance upgrades to the car, as the K04-based lump offers so much potential. I'm currently running around 300+bhp with a Stage 1 map, but am now thinking of Stage 2 at least... ideally adding better induction, addressing the restrictive downpipe-to-cat section of the exhaust, then possibly some better software and an uprated fuel pump if necessary. Expensive, but offering 360+bhp in the same subtle package...
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  9. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    June 2012 (part 2)

    I've just fitted some new Alloygators rim protectors to the nearside wheels of my S3 - i.e. the ones that can get kerbed by my wife when parking! I've been using them for about a year, during which time they've saved me several wheel refurbs.

    I fitted silver ones this time, which look slightly less obvious to my eye than the black ones fitted previously. Good fitting is key, as I found out when fitting my first set - one of them worked its way off the rim after a few weeks.

    Here's a new silver one fitted:

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    Side shot:

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  10. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Nice one Ben, my wife has had many an affair with the curb over the last 4 years, I just get used to it now :laugh:
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  11. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    Just a quick picture of the S3 fully loaded and ready for holidays. It's set up like this about 2-3 times a year and although there is no space to spare, it proves that you really don't need any more space with a family including 2 young kids.

    My work mileage has been higher recently and I'm up to 21k now, with a few thousand business miles to come before Christmas. These are usually 250-mile return trips done in one day on the motorway, where I can usually get a safe 35mpg if I take it easy at 60mph (but still around 27mpg overall due to town driving).

    I've had a dozen or so quotes for company cars recently and there's no great saving to be had unless I go for a really miserable diesel option - even with company car tax and a very fair subsidy from work.

    [​IMG]
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  12. MrLapou
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    MrLapou Well-Known Member

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    I can see why your wife curbs the alloys.. just check those pavement kerbs where you park the car..AHHHH:jump:
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  13. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Ben what Roof bars are you using, THULE ones? Good quality?
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  14. big harty
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    big harty Member

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    She looks sweet. Any more mods planned.......:tumble:
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  15. Ben H
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    Ben H On a journey...

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    I'm using Thule Aero bars, which I've had for about 3 years now. They are very good quality compared to other bars I've had and perfectly match my car's roof rails.
    I've been sitting on my hands a bit with mods, but have a list of stuff I want to do.

    I'm very busy and need a one-stop-shop - I visited my local VAG specialist / Revo dealer a month or so ago and they were initally keen, but then phoned me later and asked me to order all the parts before they fitted them. I don't mind paying upfront, but I don't have time between a young family and national job to order the stuff! Think I need to pay N8 a visit...
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  16. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Ha, I'm always here to help, cheers for the heads up on Thule, they look like the "Audi" of roof bars anyway :wub:
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