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THE AUDI S3 QUATTRO
Reviewed by HOWARD B KAYMAN
The S3 impresses. I test drove the S3 this week and what a car! I found a big improvement compared to the A3 1.8T. What the A3 turbo has been missing, the S3 has.
The car had arrived at my local garage on a Thursday morning and they called to ask if I wanted a test drive. Well the answer was 'YES' - although the whole thing was a great tease as it wasn't ready until the following week. So you can imagine, the car I've ordered, and it's there ready for a test drive, and I had to wait the whole weekend!
My wife was going to kill me as I wouldn't stop going on about it. Eventually the day came, the salesman at the garage telephoned and said that it was ready for a test drive - well, I tell you - I couldn't wait to get down to the showroom.
The car that they had came with standard leather upholstery in the new red colour. (I didn't like the red - it looks like it has a hint of orange). The first thing that you notice, when you are used to a A3 1.8T, is the bigger wheels and arches, the deeper front bumper incorporating larger air intakes, the driving/fog lights (poser lights) and the striking, stainless steel twin exhaust tailpipes. On opening the door there are a lot of pleasant, simple touches like the aluminium sill trims with S3 inscriptions which mark the threshold to a super interior.
The silk nappa leather Recaro sport seats are standard. I found that they where very comfortable and offered lots of support. The leather is also carried on to the top part of the doors instead of the cloth. The grey dashboard, the 3-spoke sports leather-covered steering wheel which is great to handle, and the high-gloss lacquer around the doors and centre console give the car that little something special.
As I pulled away, the first two things I noticed were the extra power and the better ride - a much more solid feeling even when the suspension is sopping up those bumpy roads.
At the end of the drive it was getting close to dusk and the xenon headlights are absolutely brilliant set behind clear glass.
I currently have air conditioning in my 1.8T and, once you have had it, you can never do without it -so thank you Audi for making it standard.
Let's not forget about that standard 6-speed manual gearbox, with a short, precise shift action via a larger gear knob. As you accelerate through the gears you can hear the lovely sounds of that turbo, which are missing in the 1.8T.
Two things that upset me - this car, like the 1.8T, doesn't like first gear and the brakes are a bit spongy - but I sure love the rest of it!
Why did I decide, after owning an A3 1.8T for one year, that I wanted to change it for the S3? Well the answer is easy - I love my current car so much I thought : 'Well why not go for the S3? It couldn't be worse than what I already had. It just had to be even better.' And it IS.
I did consider ordering the TT, which also is a remarkable car, but those two seats in the back are just for show and not for my two young children who would be uncomfortable in there.
If they had placed the same style of seat in the TT that they have in the 1.8T/S3, which slides when you pull the seat forward, then that may have changed my mind but trying to get a child's seat in and out promised to be exhausting and very clumsy. Yes, you're saying it's not a family car, but us dads also want a bit of fun and that's why the S3 is for me.
The Audi S3 Quattro, although I am sure Audi would not admit it, is better than the TT. I think the reason for Audi not agreeing with this is because 'the TT look' is so unusual - and impressive - that the company would not want to spoil the marketing impact that the TT can bring them.