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Sportback suspension

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by mfspen, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. mfspen
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    mfspen Member

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    I was given a 2.0TDI 170 S-Line Sportback as a loaner today, while my car is in dry dock.

    What struck me was how much more compliant the suspension was, in comparison to my 3-door A3. It really was much more comfortable.

    Is this normal for the Sportback, or have Audi tweaked the suspension settings recently ?
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  2. southpaw66
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    southpaw66 Member

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    I noticed the exact same thing when I was loaned a 3dr 2.0T. My sportback has quattro so I assumed it was the extra weight of this and extra doors, tdi engine etc.
    Glad to see I wasn't imagining it. I much prefer the ride in the sportback.
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  3. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting. When I test drove a couple of S-Lines I think they were both Sportbacks whilst mine is a 3-door. I had a feeling it was a bit harder than the Sportbacks were but wasn't sure I'd remembered correctly.

    I don't think it's night and day different but it's certainly a bit harder. It doesn't bother me as I quite like firmly sprung cars and don't even find it that much harder than my old SE but I think the gf thinks it's a bit on the hard side (always feels worse as a passenger) although she's not actually complained about it as yet.

    Wonder what it is about the Sportback that makes it ride differently and also if anyone will make aftermarket springs and/or shocks for the S-Lines to improve the ride a bit whilst not compromising handling too much?
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  4. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    It's possible they have softened the sportback a bit,in the knowledge that it is more likely to carry passengers.
    However,my sportback is really,really hard.
    I've not driven a 3-door S-line to compare though.

    It's also possible that springs and dampers are the same,but the increased weight of the sportback (I am assuming it's heavier than the 3 door) is 'preloading' the springs and dampers,thereby making them work in a different part of their range.

    Bike riders often say their bikes ride better with the increased weight of a passenger,because the suspension is being forced to work in a different part of it's range.The cure for this,for solo riding,is softer springs,but then you end up with something that bottoms out with a pillion.
    It's always a compromise.

    My own personal opinion is that Audi always seem to go the wrong way with damping.
    Their high-speed compression damping,which deals with bump reaction,is way too hard,leading to a rough ride.
    However,their low speed compression damping,which deals with body control,is too soft,leading to pitching and rolling.

    I doubt aftermarket springs would make much difference,as they would undoubtedly just show up the shortcomings of the standard dampers.

    Better dampers,with or without different springs,would undoutedly make a difference though.
    I could forsee better body control with a more compliant ride.Anyone who's driven a competition car (especially a rally one) will tell you that it's perfectly possible to have supern handling without a rock hard ride.

    I usually get the bike suspension done as a matter of course,but I can't be arsed doing cars !
    Way too much hassle and expense !
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  5. h5djr
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    h5djr Well-Known Member

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    Out of interest the unladen weight of the Sportback is more than the 3-door by around 40kg.

    A3 2.0 TDI Sportback - 1380kg
    A3 2.0 TDI 3-door - 1340kg

    A3 2.0 FSI Sportback - 1315kg
    A3 2.0 FSI 3-door - 1275kg
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  6. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    40 kgs is certainly enough to get springs and dampers working in a different part of their range.
    Everyone probably notices the difference in handling and ride between a full tank of fuel and an empty tank,for example.

    I doubt it's enough of a weight difference to make Audi bother with different settings though,so I'm definitely plumping for the fact that the increased weight helps the suspension move a bit more,whereas the lighter 3 door has less mass to make the suspension move.

    Have the springs and dampers got the same part numbers,3 and 5 door ?

    If any 3 door S-line owner were to put a 40kgs weight in the back seat,they would effectively be simulating the ride/handling of a sportback !
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  7. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    I'll have to do some subjective tank full / tank empty tests. I've noticed it feels different from time to time but have yet to correlate this with the amount of fuel remaining.
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  8. steve184
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    steve184 Active Member

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    i suspect its the extra weight to be honest - i could notice a difference in my 3 door when theres just me in it in comparison when someone in passenger seat - the extra weight seems to 'suit' the suspension better, and i guess with a sportback you have the weight all the time in the form of two extra doors and all the ancilliarys that go with them
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  9. h5djr
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    h5djr Well-Known Member

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    Basiclly in the parts catalogue there are 15 types of springs and 4 types of shock absorbers listed for the rear suspension on the A3. These are list as applicable to different PR numbers (which seem to relate to various markets and model types). There are 3 main PR codes for the springs PR-UA1 - basic version, PR-UA2 - sports version and PR-UA3 - S-Line version. The shock absorbers are listed as 2 types of gas-filled, plus 1 for heavy duty suspension and 1 for S-Line.

    There are 5 different front suspension springs listed and these are related to different front axle weight classes.

    None of these components seem to be listed as different between the 3-door and the Sportback.
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  10. trims
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    trims Member

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    I test drove a 3 door S-Line 170PS TDI before taking a risk and ordering the SB Quattro. I was anxious about the hard S-line suspension, but figured the SB Quattro, with 17 inch rims and 'Sport' suspension, should be OK. I've been delighted with it: the steering is nice and positive and the ride is great - my old A4 SE used to waddle over road humps in comparison and was no more comfortable.

    One scary point: my V5C certificate tells me the unladen weight of my car is 1609kg!!! What does your V5C give as your unladen weight?
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  11. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    I had a 3 door sport on loan for a weekend a few months ago.
    The ride was slightly less harsh than my S-line SB,but not much.
    Massive difference in the handling though.
    It lurched and rolled all over the place compared with the S-line.
    Grip was massively compromised,to the extent that I scared myself trying to take corners as I would in my S-line.
    The reduced wheel and tyre size will take some of the blame for that,but mechanical grip (which is provided by the chassis/suspension) takes some iof the blame too.
    The body control was so much worse than the S-line that it was overwhelming the tyres.
    It needed to be 'set-up' for corners in advance,whereas the S-line can be chucked in with Elton John abandon.

    I always say "no hard suspension next time",but I always end up going for it.
    Body control is more important to me than a jittery ride.
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  12. Covenant
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    Covenant Member

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    There's a fair few reports from people running H&R that it maintains the S-Line control but is a slightly more forgiving ride.

    I'd have to test it myself but it is tempting - I'd like a little more comfort on potholed UK roads but I'm not giving up the exemplary handling for it :)
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  13. wilko
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    wilko Top Gear

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    I personally thort that the sportback s-line felt much better than my sport, seem to cope with the pot holes better anyway!
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  14. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    Just a damper change or springs as well? The KONI FSD system looks interesting too.
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  15. killbill
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    killbill Member

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    I have to say I find the ride and handling on my sportback S-Line much better than I was expecting seems to handle poor quality road surfaces much better than my previous LCR, which was based on the old 8L chassis, but it still feels well screwed down to the road. VAG have obviously spent some time developing the ride/handling balance on the A3.

    :happy:
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  16. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    Whilst the ride/handling compromise seems acceptable if the car is driven in isolation,Audi still haven't really got the hang of it IMO.

    There are plenty of other manufacturers out there that make better handling cars without resorting to the frankly old fashioned notion that 'hard=better'.

    I'm not saying the A3 is a bad handling/riding motor.
    It's adequate and safe,but there are plenty better.

    In fact,having driven plenty of the competition lately in readiness for replacement of the A3,I would say Audi are pretty much bottom of the list when it comes to ride/handling.

    All of the competition I've driven (Alfa/BMW/Jag/Ford/Honda) give the driver more feel and driver involvement.

    I heard someone describe their A3 steering and brake pedal feel as being similar to their playstation set-up,which is a great comparison.

    This doesn't make it a bad car,just not one for enthusiastic drivers.
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  17. HeliChris
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    HeliChris Learning to fly 3D

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    For me

    BMW - are rubbish because of the run flat tyres. They seem to make the car steering nervous, to easy to tramline (even 55 profile), and over harsh. I have driven 1 series, 3 series, Mini's and Z4's all have the same problem. If they where sooo good why has the M cars not got them ;-)

    I Agree Jag/Ford - make superb handeling cars, the compromise is much more informed. i.e there is more to their handeling equation than sporty=hard


    Can't comment of Alfa's and Hondas

    The big problem I think is the UK, our roads are just sub standard compaired the our european partners. The Audi setup makes soo much scene in Germany, and maybe run flats don't fell so bad on the roads around Munich.

    Chris.
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  18. mfspen
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    mfspen Member

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    I used to own a 320i, and that was exactly the same. You had to constantly make small steering corrections to keep the car on the straight and narrow, even on a dead straight road. But that had standard tyres, so it must just be a trait of the BMW steering setup.

    I've driven a few newer 3-Series since, and they were all the same, just as you describe. Nervous, jittery front-end, which would very easily tramline on white lines, filled-in trenches, etc.
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  19. HeliChris
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    HeliChris Learning to fly 3D

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    I just hope Audi does not follow BMW and fit run flats as standard. I have seen a run flat tyre off its rim, it was so hard that I could sit on it and the tyre would not deform.

    The properties of the tyre side wall effect the handling nature of the car, and this is someting that has not been craked yet with the current crop of run flats. They did not work in the 60's and they don't work now.

    Chris.

    P.S. If Audi did start fitting them as standard then the first place my new car would visit is a tyre fitters to get them removed.
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  20. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    I've also heard that run-flats cannot be repaired after a puncture, although how true this is I don't know.

    Regards suspension, I've seen the RS4 get many plaudits for its handling and ride, with many reviewers commenting that this is the first time Audi have struck a good balance between ride and handling. Having driven one the other week, I have to say the ride seemed just as firm as my S-Line does.
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  21. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    I'd love to drive a car that had been set-up for the weight of the driver only,rather than the 'all possiblities' scenario they have to allow for.

    When I bear in mind that my car is able to take 3 large blokes in the back,averaging over 90kgs each,without bottoming out and wandering all over the place,it's no wonder it's a trifle hard when I'm the only one in it !

    I think it's an option manufacturers should look at.
    Allowing the driver to buy a 'no passenger/luggage' suspension pack.
    It would consist of significantly softer springs than a standard car,that's for sure.

    Or at least give all cars adjustable suspension,not just top of the range motors.Even the most basic bikes have had some sort of suspension adjustment,as far back as the 70's/80's.

    I would certainly consider a (for example) £500 upgrade to a suspension pack that allowed a comfort mode for when I have the missus and daughter and a sport mode for when I'm in it myself.

    It's easy done,with dampers that have some sort of particles in the damping fluid that 'stiffen' under an electric charge.

    No charge=nice and comfy
    Push of a button=stiffer than the fathers at a Girls aloud gig.
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  22. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    Or a magnetic field, like the ones available on the TT do? I can see these being extended to more cars in the Audi range in future as by all accounts they work very well.
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  23. beerglass
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    beerglass Member

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    The SB is a better ride because of the backend

    I remember buying the SB last year and talked to Audi about the difference in ride.

    I test drove the 3-door s-line and then the 5 door SB s-line and could just about feel the difference.

    I was told the ride would improve alittle more after 10K which it did alittle.

    Basically is the extra weight just over the rear axle.

    I now have a A4 s-line and find this softer again.

    The A4 s-line is weird, it feels like your driving a boat and then when you do floor it into a corner and boy does it hold the road. Just doesnt feel like a ironing board with 4 wheels which the A3 -line does at low speeds
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  24. HeliChris
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    HeliChris Learning to fly 3D

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    Had my Caterham flat floored for me, the battery was moved, to balance the weight and on the track I had to run with no washer fluid. The big problem was keeping my weight the same :)

    The problem is you have to teach yourself to use the same corner speed for left and right bends something not natural in a car. Thats where you need to trust the datalogger, and take the brave pills :)

    Chris.
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  25. Vertigo1
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    Vertigo1 Well-Known Member

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    Well I filled up today and so took the opportunity to assess the ride quality immediately before and after, on the same roads as I returned from the station via the same route.

    Although still on the firm side, it's noticably more compliant with a full tank back there than it is when empty.
    #25

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