IEDEI buys a new car!

Apologies for not updating this Sunday, however I was too busy enjoying the hell out of my new car buying experience!

Car shopping has been a very enjoyable experience.   I must admit that I only posted  3 of my favourite cars I reviewed, however there were many others which I ended up testing but never wrote a review on. Some of the others included: Subaru WRX, Mercedes C300, VW GTI, Audi A4, BMW 135i, Audi RS6 (C5), and a few more.  I really enjoyed the Evo 10, and honestly it was the best performing car I drove amongst all of them—however I could get past the vulgarity of it, the subwoofer and battery filling up the trunk, and the poor mileage (15-20mpg).  The Audi S4 was a superbly nice car to sit in and drive, however it felt too imposing for me and too large.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  The BMW 335i was a decent package which sort of occupied the middle of the road here.  In my decision making process, I really started to understand why I really didn’t want any of those cars—–because they were either too big, not enough fun, OR not built well enough.

2 years ago, my wife and I had driven to an Audi dealership to drive (and buy) an Audi A3.  We both loved the car, however we couldn’t really afford to buy one new at the time.  Now, we were able to afford one, so that’s exactly what i’ve done.  The car wasn’t easy to find in the spec I wanted, as there was only ONE car in this spec arriving in the USA this month.  I found that car, and had to really do some hustling to get it before somebody else did.

2012 Audi A3 2.0T quattro: titanium sport package (sport suspension, sport seats, black trim interior/exterior, 18″ RS titanium/silver wheels), navigation with ipod integration, bluetooth, open sky (full front/rear sunroof), cold weather package (heated seats, heated mirrors, heated blah blah), S-Tronic DSG (dual-clutch transmission)

I picked up the car on saturday morning.  I have not stopped smiling every since! It is such a riot to drive, and I am so impressed by its agility, composure, handling, acceleration, and its overall build quality.  The car feels extremely well built, each door closes with a german ‘thud’, and every time i get into the special leather & perforated alcantara seats and wrap my hands around the thick perforated leather steering wheel—the car feels very special.  Audi states the mfg 0-60 times of 6.7 seconds, although it feels very quick—even quicker than that.  The quattro system keeps all the 200hp useable and you feel huge amounts of grip in the corners.  A $500 ECU ‘reflash’ adds 50hp and 100+lb/fut torque.  What a car though…..i’m enjoying every minute of it!

There were other cars I tested which were faster or more capable performers than the A3, however none of them offered the entire package of style and substance like the A3 does—–and none of them made me happy like the A3 does!  The interior of the car is just downright fantastic, and really impresses me with its final attention to detail (white stitching on dark grey leather with perforated alcantara inserts) and materials.  The layout is minimalist and very easy to use—especially since much of it was modeled after my other car, the MK1 TT.  The ‘sport’ seats are better than I expected, with nice big bolsters on the sides and on the shoulders.   I had never seen these seats in person before, but was highly pleased with them on the car.  The RNS-E updated Navigation system is very easy to use, and being someone who isn’t particularly tech savvy when it comes to connecting devices, I have found the bluetooth connectivity to my iPhone to be remarkably easy to use and intuitive.

Let me be honest by saying that NO Audi is ‘cheap’ to buy, and I spent a significant amount of money getting the car in exactly the spec I wanted to—–but I will say that after driving this since Saturday, I think the car definitely feels or exceeds its price in every way.  There is a level of build quality and thoughtfulness throughout the design which exceeds my expectations.  This 8P generation of the Audi A3 has been around for several years now, first debut’ing in the US market back in 2006.  However I think the design of the car is just wonderful, and harks back to the older days of Audi, when they were a bit more understated and boxy.  The headlights and taillights are truly a work of art, with LEDs present on both ends and bixenon headlights rolling in the front.   Notice that the Titanium sport package removes the ‘chrome’ outline around the large modern Audi single frame grille design, making the grille far more subtle and not so ‘bling’—-something i wanted as a priority on this car.  I think the blackened grille surround really adds to the appeal of the front end.

Driving wise, I am really enjoying the hell out of the car.  The S-tronic/DSG (dual clutch transmission) is unbelievable….and after years of driving manual gearboxes, I am truly amazed by the performance which can be transmitted to the road with the DSG.  While there are great amounts of satisfaction in pressing a clutch and shifting a gear on a manual transmission car–I am finding great satisfaction of having both hands on the wheel and getting an instant, race car-like shift using the paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel.  This is not an automatic transmission, it is a truly automated manual transmission utilizing clutches (2 of them) just like a manual transmission would—-the difference is that the box is electronically controlled and you press the paddles without the use of a clutch everytime you shift.  If you haven’t tried this gearbox out, you must do so!  There is a level of control which I have never felt in all of my years in driving manuals.   The handling on the A3 quattro is superb, very sure footed and very firm with great levels of grip on the 18″ special RS titanium and silver wheels.  I have already flung the car into corners with great composure, and the stiffened sport package springs keeping everything neutral and alive.  The steering feel is among the best i’ve felt in an Audi.  I am the first to admit that the big weakness in most Audis I have driven has been steering response; in my TT I actually modified the car to with new control arms bushings to improve the response, which it did dramatically.  The A3, on the other hand, feels great right out of the box.

So there it is….my first new car!  I can’t tell you how great the feeling is of getting in the car and smelling the freshness of that ‘new car smell’….it is one of the great joys of life IMO!  To know that nobody else has owned it or driven it before.   I also can’t tell you how happy it makes me to look in my garage spot now and see the A3 and the TT sitting together, dressed in black.  Behold, the beginning of the IEDEI AUTO HAREM!

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46 thoughts on “IEDEI buys a new car!

  1. danidmas says:

    Congrats buddy! Such a great time! I’ve been a huge fan of the A3 Sportback since a friend of mine bought one years ago (2.0 TDI), looks far better than the 3-door A3 IMO. As for the gearbox (and engine and suspension set-up, for that matter), I only tried it with a VW Golf GTI at the Ring… and everytime I’ve been back I rented the very same car (4 times already). BTW, it makes a very nice combo next to your TT!

    • Syed says:

      thanks, man! i would love to try the DSG on a track—i think it would be fantastic! I am so envious you’ve been to the ‘Ring so many times! that’s great. I just keep going in the garage and sitting in the car, even when i’m not driving it. lol….i can’t stop looking at both cars sitting together in the garage…such a great feeling!

      • danidmas says:

        My one and only complain about this gearbox are the downshifts. With this car you need a different driving style than in a manual, ’cause if you downshift when you’re still high on the revs, the box won’t respond. You need to brake earlier and then downshift (in a manual, you can be more agressive with the ‘box). That way, the brakes have to work a little more… but I tell you, after 3-4 laps in a row at the Nürburgring, it’s not a big deal 🙂

        Upshifting is just sooooo addictive!!

        • Syed says:

          interesting, Dani! you would know better than me, as I haven’t driven a DSG box in a track setting yet, and on the street I don’t feel that problem with the downshifting—–but i can see how in more aggressive driving a track, there might be a difference! very interesting! On street driving, downshifting results in a little “blip” of the throttle which is a very interesting sound! 🙂

  2. Gavin says:

    Congrats! A very nicely set up car. In fact, yours is the first A3 I’ve seen with the RS Titanium wheels. Your report reminds me of how I feel about my 2010 GTI. Enjoy the new ride.

    • Syed says:

      Thanks Gavin…it was a very hard combination/spec to find, but alas i got the only one coming to the US this month. The GTI is a great ride! i am sure we can relate in terms of some of our favourite parts of these cars!

  3. what can i say but ‘mazel tov’! it is a superb car for sure. ought to be one quick little beast off the line with a chip and its AWD.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nice ride man, love the wheels and the black paint. How do you find the DSG compared to the EVO X SST transmission? I’m looking at both cars and would like your opinion on the handling and power. Nice pics.

    • Syed says:

      thanks, man. firstly i’m a huge fan of the Evo 10’s performance….i’m not sure if there is ANY sub-$40k 4-door that can do the things it does, driving-wise. That being said, if you asked me to compare the A3 to the Evo 10 here’s my take: The price will not be that different. The Evo 10 will hands down have better performance. The A3 is much nicer of a car to be inside and to look at from outside. The design of the A3 is quite classic, IMO….and it has much better utility (storage, seats, etc.). The engine is fantastic in the A3, and can easily be taken to 250hp with a simple ECU flash. As a package, i chose the A3 over the Evo because: A) it is just such a nicely built, well executed design and automobile, B) i feel the Evo 10 just didn’t suit me, even though the performance was great C) the Evo 10 isn’t cheap, and aside from performance, you really don’t get much else except nice seats. You can also read my review of the Evo 10 a couple of weeks ago. Good luck and happy shopping!

      • one other benefit you forgot to mention: the dealer experience. i mean not all audi dealers are uniformly great, but a) i would not want to be waiting in a mitsubishi service dept, and b) mitsubishi is in the shitter and the evos days may be numbered. who knows what the future holds for mitsu in america, whereas the future looks quite rosy for audi.

        • Syed says:

          absolutely, drew—–you should have seen the state of the dealership i went to. they had their service centre in a warehouse across the street. It looked like a bunker leftover from WW2! Not to mention, you get a measly 3 year warranty with the EVO as well as an understanding that it is possible Mitsubishi may withdraw from the US market completely in the next few years, as their current lineup aside from the Evo 10 is terrible!

  5. It’s really helpful for me which I have ever seen.Its presented well and nicely written which easy to understand.Thank you very much for the information.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great choice and glad you stayed with the 4 rings! I was just telling a friend to buy an A3 but he wants a 325. I’m very proud of you for finding the exact options you wanted that takes guts. I also could not own a black car in the boroughs because it looks dirty too often but I admire someone who does!
    The next car I buy may in fact be an A3…..S3 if it ever comes over.
    CONGRATS.

    • Syed says:

      thanks haha…yes it is torture to buy a black car, however i kind of like my cars to be a little dirty—-as i think they look better that way, so black sort of suits me i suppose! I would love it if Audi sold an S3 (or even an RS3) here….but alas they do not, or else I would seriously have saved my pennies to get one of those. The good thing, however, about the A3 is that it easily can be transformed into an S3 by doing an APR tuning (as you mentioned!) which takes it to the S3’s stock power range. The suspension I got in my A3 is supposed to be the same as the S3 (sport package suspension), and the only thing which may need upgrading are the brakes. CHEERS!—

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s funny I feel the same way about updating the brakes on my A4 Avant. Stage 1 tune done. Sport suspension done. Brakes… after the oem wear out. Good luck with the A3 let us know what kind of mpg’s you are getting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    oh and PS. APR stg 1 makes the 2.0T really come alive. It’s a bit slow on the heavier A4 chasis.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nice purchase Syed,

    I’ve got a MKV GTI with DSG, and I love the DSG gearbox (like my R32 GT-R, it’s set up for track, but it’s also my daily driver).

    A few things worth “fixing”.

    1) Replace the stock paddle shifters with the much larger (and sexier) S2T Performance paddles. Not only do they feel a million times tougher, they let you reach the paddle a lot easier when shifting into gear mid corner (say a 90 degree corner from stop at the lights).

    2) Eliminate the kickdown button. On DSG, in manual mode, if you put the pedal to the metal there’s an extra little “click” which forces the car to shift into the lowest gear it can. Very annoying as you should have full control in manual mode! You can either get a DSG tune OR you could simply out a measured wedge behind the pedal. Especially important if you intend to track the car, having the car shift automatically from 3rd to 2nd mid corner is damn annoying!

    All the best! 2 black cars to keep clean now, that’s double the work of owning, say, 2 silver cars haha!

    • Syed says:

      thanks Justin….it is funny you mention the larger paddles, because that is the first and only thing that has struck me as what I want to change. the paddles are a bit on the small side, and I definitely want to make them bigger. there are several options around for this including some very expensive Oettinger ones, which are $300 (!) and the S2T ones which are I believe $250 or so IIRC? where did you get yours from? any good links? I also found some stick-on extensions made by VW Maniacs which seem very nice and are only $150. tempting!

      I am still very new to the dual clutch tranny…so I haven’t noticed all the details as you have thus far….is it possible to tune the ECU and DSG at the same time? or are they separate tuning jobs entirely. I am planning an APR reflash for the ECU, do you think that alters some of the DSG settings as well?

      thanks, man!

  9. Justin Fox says:

    PS: Justin from JDMST/VWG/Cars Move Us here! 🙂

  10. All I can say is wow. I’ve never ever checked out it this way, but I appreicate you posting it. I will continue to become a regular reader of one’s weblog.

  11. Justin Fox says:

    Definitely don’t go for the stick on ones! Your car is way too nice for that kind of treatment.

    We (VWGolf.net.au forum) did a group buy on the S2T ones direct from their web site and got the price down a little. Once you feel and see how solid they are you’ll realise they’re the right choice! In black they look VERY factory too and they’re just so much longer at the bottom making it so much easier to grab a gear when the wheel is completely turned. I love them to bits and find myself admiring them nearly every time I drive (more than a year in now, still love them so much).

    Here’s a pic of the black ones in my car: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4075/4820455768_63c3754e2e_o.jpg

    Regarding tune. With Revo (which is what I went for) it’s a separate tune for the DSG and the ECU. I’m pretty sure it’s separate for most tuners and I think APR just released a DSG tune too so most if not all tuning companies offer it now. I’ve not done it yet (the block behind the pedal was a lot cheaper ahahah!) but the ECU tune is night and day, you’ll love the difference so I’d definitely suggest going for the ECU tune before the DSG tune.

    • Syed says:

      justin—-those black paddles look really great, man. how hard was it to install? i heard you have to remove the airbag? i’m not exactly a ‘master mechanic’, especially when it comes to electric things—-so is there wiring and/or soldering involved? the S2T are around $250 (USD) or so right?

      I have Revo tuning on the TT and it has been great….took my 225 to 270hp pretty easily….so maybe i’ll consider Revo for this, assuming they have a program for the 2011+ TSI engines.

      Your interior looks great in the pic—but let me recommend you Leathermaster Strong Cleaner to remove the ‘shine’ from your steering wheel—-the stuff really works, and you can usually buy a kit online with the cleaner & conditioner. I had the same ‘shiny steering wheel’ problem a few months ago in the TT…it worked great to bring a matte finish back.

  12. Justin Fox says:

    Syed, we got them down significantly through Michael at S2T in both group buys (about $169USD). Check this thread, top post is the 2nd group buy we did:

    http://www.vwgolf.net.au/showthread.php?83-DSG-Paddle-Shifter-Extension/page28

    Installation seems difficult when you look at the instructions, but once you get going it’s damn easy and none of us ever bothered to unplug the battery at all, we just went straight at the steering wheel! Instructions on paper are good, heaps of people have taken step by step photos on forums too and there also seems to be an Audi A3 specific instructions picture thread on the S2T web site.

    Thanks for the leather cleaner tip! I’m not one to keep my cars too clean, they get destroyed with all the track use but next time I’m at the auto shop I’ll definitely buy some for kicks! 🙂

  13. Tony says:

    It’s not dirty enough.

    LOVE the new car! Congrats!

  14. Hey – thanks for the post. It looks like we certainly arrived at the same conclusion! Love the color, the wheels, the leather seats (!), and the navigation system (which my Zipcar did not have). And I have to say, it looks awesome next to the TT. I would buy the A3 in a heartbeat next to the A4, 3-series, or Evo. When I drove the 3-series, I thought it was sluggish; the A3’s turbo engine is much more fun.

    Enjoyed reading your site – I’m adding your blog to my link list.

    • Syed says:

      thanks for checking out the blog, bill…..I am hugely impressed with the car. as a useable fun car to drive everyday I could find anything better. I agree about the 3 series….it bored me.. the added options really sort of turned it into an even nicer version of a car which was already nice in my opinion…. do you actively use the paddle shudders when you rent the A3? they’re on the back of the steering wheel….mated to a dual clutch gearbox in this car…the paddle shifters change gears lightening fast, and really give out that race car like feel….very cool! cheers!

      • Alas, the Zipcar did not have paddle shifters – only a tiptronic shifter, which I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use. Paddles are a lot of fun though. Agree, the A3 is such a better value than the A4 – same level of options at lower starting price. Btw, my rental also didn’t have the LED lights like yours – those are awesome!

        • Syed says:

          actually Bill, that’s not a ‘tiptronic’…it is STILL the dual clutch “S-Tronic”transmission—-all you do is essentially flip the shifter over to the (+/-) position and then move up and down to flip through the gears….upshifting and downshifting as you would in a manual—-but without needing a clutch. It is a shame that those zipcars don’t come with paddles….but i’m guessing zipcar uses the ‘base’ models….the reason why these transmissions are special is that it is not constructed like an ‘automatic’ transmission—–they actually have 2 clutches built into it like a manual does, but they are automated electronically controlled clutches!

  15. […] I recently bought a 2012 Audi A3 quattro, which I am totally in love with!  The car is quick with great handling and a beautifully appointed interior.  Here in the US, we don’t receive the S3 and RS3, so the best I could do was a 2.0T quattro titanium sport package.  The car I picked up has many elements of the S3 in terms of front bumper, interior, and suspension. […]

  16. CT says:

    Hi Syed,

    Sweet, sweet ride! Congratulations! Judging by your posts it seems like you’re really enjoying your new whip. You have managed to attain what I feel is the perfect set-up for the current A3 (other than S3 / RS3, which sadly is not available state-side!). In fact, I am currently in the market for a very similarly spec’d vehicle. Could you share a little bit about your buyer experience? How far below MSRP were you able to structure your deal? I know yours (w/Titanium and Quattro) is a rare breed…what do you think is a fair asking price? BTW, I’m in the SF Bay Area, demographic somewhat similar to NYC.

    P.S. Much props on your blog! We seem to share many of the the same aesthetics when it comes to all things automotive!

    /CT

  17. Very interesting, awesome blog. A nice view of Audi presented here. Every thing is clear from here about this model of Audi.

  18. Clin says:

    I live in Germany (Army Spouse), we just ordered our 2012 Audi A3 4 door “Titanium Package” 6 speed manual with every available option. Just wondering if you get any annoying rattling or shutters while driving on rough roads or irregular surfaces and if it’s quiet on the highway. We’ve never owned an Audi before, we want to make sure it’s worth every penny.

  19. […] couple of months ago, i placed an order for a new car to replace the A3 quattro (will be keeping the TT).  I put 47k miles on the A3 in just over 2 years, and really needed […]

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