back to article A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then

Network-connected cars are nothing to get overly excited about these days and, to be honest, neither are fast hatchbacks. But the chance to a drive an unusually hot hatch with 4G connectivity was more than enough to stir El Reg’s auto desk out of its customary torpor. That’s how I found myself behind the wheel of Audi’s new S3 …

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Height of stupidity?

> lets you access Twitter, Facebook, email and texts while you are on the go,

We all thought that trying to send SMSs while driving was so dumb that nobody would need to be told not to try - but no, apparently the limit of human intelligence is lower than we thought.

Will we now need to be reminded that tweeting while driving is so blindingly stupid (for the driver to do) that each text should be automatically forwarded to the Darwin Awards assessors?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Height of stupidity?

Originally I thought that too, but AFAIK the car actually kills your access the moment it gets above a certain speed, and - IMHO very important - there is no law that says you HAVE to use it.

What made me sit up was the mention of Google - it turns out that Audi's "Connect" service actually acts as a Google proxy and anonymises the data requests. Given Google's appetite for user data acquisition by whatever means, I wonder how Audi got away with that one - it impresses me even more than the engines they've been dropping in their cars of late.

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Re: Height of stupidity?

agreed about the engine. Very impressive stats. Plus that emissions is the stuff of envy for a "touch under" 300bhp my poor ST has 70 less horses and at 224g an almost top bracket tax band. Im leaning more and more towards audis, my next car will most likely be one and probably an S3 when the focus ST dies a death.

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Car acting as a hotspot for passenger devices, and being able to download latest traffic information for its satnav: Good idea.

Car integrating into your Twatter and Plebbook accounts...WTF?? Don't we have enough problems with peoples concentration being disturbed by the radio & smartphones whilst driving, without the manufacturers making it worse by integrating social networks into cars?

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I don't usually descend to obscenity...

but why the *fuck* does a driver need access to facebook and twitter?

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Given the expected level of idiotic driving one would expect from the average Audi driver, the fact that they might be tweeting how 'awesome' they are whilst driving at 90 mph a few feet from the bumper of the car in front should be hardly surprising.

At least it might preoccupy them enough so that they don't need to constantly flash their headlights at the driver in front in order to progress to the next position in the queue of traffic that's all travelling at the same speed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

As a matter of fact, such prejudices are more of an enticement to buy an Audi than any other tech argument. Certainly if it's a normal "look at me" Porsche there is no getting away from an RS Audi.

Hell, I'm going to buy me an iPhone to go with it. :p

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Thumb Up

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Can the car be configured to automatically send an update to FB, twitter or whatever when its driver crashed?

"I'm a fucktard and just crashed my Audi S"

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Silver badge

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Is it a prejudice that the moron doing precisely that behind me up the M11 on Friday was driving a red Audi? I think not. FYI, I was travelling at the same speed as the car in front of me, as was he to the car in front of him, etc., in busy traffic. This didn't stop the wanker in the Audi driving right up my arse and repeatedly flashing his lights as if the traffic in front of him should part like the Red Sea and let the egomaniac through.

After all, it's not a prejudice if it is based on a series of observations, and I have observed many instances of similarly idiotic and dangerous driving, most of which have been from drivers of Audis, followed by BMWs, then Mercs, in a roughly 3:2:1 ratio.

Drivers of these makes of car are by no means the only offenders, but they do seem to make up the majority. It would be interesting to see the police statistics (if they exist) on motoring convictions for careless/dangerous driving broken down by make and model.

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Boffin

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Loyal Commenter, I can confirm your observation. You should know something about German middle to upper class cars, i.e. the brands you mentioned: those cars have built-in priority and its drivers' vision is impaired either due to wind screens being not very transparent or drivers' short-sightedness.

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

It is rare to find a boy racer in an RS. Sat in an RS4 at a publicity event once, horrible thing to sit in, very very uncomfortable. Better off with an S4 for normal driving - the specs arent too different.

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Never had a problem with Audi drivers.... BMW and Jag drivers on the other hand.......

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Having driven quite regularly on the German autobahns on business, I must admit even there it's usually (at least 50% of the time) an Audi (or more usually a remaining fraction of one) that causes the long tailbacks when they lose it and end up in pieces across the carriageway or verge. Less so the BMW's, and only occasionally Mercs these days.

Anyway perhaps we should implement a simple mass general-public solution that the first response to one of these trying to park in your boot with lights-a-flashing is just to slow down by 5-10mph or so and be equally bloody-minded about it?

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Yes, just program the airbags to do that.

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FAIL

"Given the expected level of idiotic driving one would expect from the average Audi driver, "

@ Loyal Commenter

Which is like saying that ALL commentards here are highly intelligent individuals...like vous mayhaps? Hmmm?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

2 tactics here. Stop using your brakes. Just starting coasting to slow down. The other is a bit of heel and toe: Get on the brakes suddenly whilst keeping your revs up so you can get up to speed again.

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Why the F*** does ANYONE need access to facebook and twitter. ??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Actually... by default it will call the emergency services for you if it detects you have crashed.

So, it may not have been a serious question, but there you go - if you do crash because you are using Facebook or Twitter then at least someone will be alerted.

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Absolute bullshit. Not once have I seen objectionable driving from Jaguar drivers and very rarely from Mercedes drivers either, nor Lexus while we are on the subject.

Perhaps your experience is a Jag being test driven by an Audi driver fed up of having his back wrenched by his Czech shitbox?

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Re: I don't usually descend to obscenity...

Yes but you have forgotten there was probably a volvo driver the front of the queue.

I would also point out that a lot of bmw drivers have changed brand to audi so the twat in the beemer is now a twat in an audi. Irrespective the vehicle brand they are still twats but come in all different brands.

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Anonymous Coward

Permanent 4 wheel drive

You've fallen for the marketing spin. Only marketing people would class an A3/S3 as having permanent 4 wheel drive. Having just checked the Audi site their marketing bumf is very carefully worded to not give much away.

A3's/S3's use Haldex as their engines aren't mounted longitudinally as required by the Torsen system (as found on the A4 and the original Quattro). Haldex uses an electronic clutch to apply power to the rear wheels as and when required in varying amounts. Go above a certain speed (think it's 70mph) and power to the rear disengages completely. Most of the time when you are driving along in a straight line very little power is applied to the rear, well below 10% in fact!

Permanent 4 wheel drive has fixed power to each axle which makes it somewhat more predictable under extreme conditions like snow. With Haldex you'll feel the car shuffling the power around and doing strange things which can be disconcerting.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

This is from page 17 of the A3 brochure that's on the Audi website which would seem to contradict what you're saying, either that or Audi can be had up for false advertising

In the Audi A3, quattro® all-wheel-drive

continuously distributes drive power

between the front and rear axles depending

on weather conditions, road surface and

gradient, which increases flexibility for an

enhanced, sportier drive.

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Meh

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

I had a A3 3.2L with 2nd gen haldex until about 4 months ago, and before that a couple of other gen 1 cars. I was always sceptical about how much power was reaching the rear wheels until the haldex diff died. Then I entered a world of spinning front wheels, torque steer, and general fear and loathing, especially in the wet. In the snow last winter, before the diff failed, and with some half decent winter tyres on (Avon ice touring ST) my weekly commute from Dorset to even snowier Belgium was a breeze.

My experience with haldex is that the only time I was aware of the transmission "shuffling the power around" was when I was pushing far too hard. And the limits of the car's grip and traction were very high.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

The Haldex system used is well know for being fake 4wd, most of the time it's front wheel drive until the fronts start to lose grip, then power is shuffled backwards.

Interesting that this review states its a good drivers car, as it's the first review I've seen which suggests this. Most I've seen reckon it's dull and not particularly entertaining, and if you care about driving, you should really be going to see BMW about an M135i. Not as pretty granted, but once that straight 6 fires up, I doubt you'll care.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

No it doesn't contradict me at all. As I point out they have muddied the water. They aren't saying anything that isn't true but they have chosen wording that allows them to claim permanent 4 wheel drive.

But is permanent 4 wheel drive a system that is always on with a fixed amount of power to each axle, or one that sends the power where it's needed and oversteers if you take your foot off the beans?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

"The Haldex system used is well know for being fake 4wd, most of the time it's front wheel drive until the fronts start to lose grip, then power is shuffled backwards."

It works on "slip" not loss of grip. The computer looks at the steering angle and the rotation of each wheel and shuffles power to where it's needed. It does not need wheelspin/loss of grip to do this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

"My experience with haldex is that the only time I was aware of the transmission "shuffling the power around" was when I was pushing far too hard. And the limits of the car's grip and traction were very high."

I live in a country area with things like steep roads on wet leaves at this time of year. So I do feel it doing it's stuff as you grunt up a hill in a car with a lot of torque.

Next time it snows take your foot off the beans around a roundabout. I was going slowly but I incorrectly went for a gear change and suddenly a had car that started to oversteer.

Haldex is fantastic in 95% of circumstances, but it will always be second to Torsen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

You've fallen for the marketing spin. Only marketing people would class an A3/S3 as having permanent 4 wheel drive. Having just checked the Audi site their marketing bumf is very carefully worded to not give much away.

German as wel as English law is very precise on the use of the word "continuously", so I suspect it's a matter of interpretation. I have as yet not driven an Audi with a quattro drive which wasn't annoyingly grippy exactly because you cannot kill traction completely. Their power division is now more interesting (40/60), but it's still hard work to get it to drift. This is why some people call it "boring" - I prefer to call it "safe for family use", yet it's fun to drive. Sure, if I want to work hard I'll get another make (try an uneven grip ramp with BMW's idea of 4 wheel drive), but most of the time I want to get from A to B without putting too much effort in, or take risk when there's snow on the road.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "well know"

Since you evidently fail to understand the concept of the past tense, I am not going to worry too much about your opinions in technical subject areas.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

Actually it's better than that, on newer generations there's an input from the throttle position sensor and more torque is sent to the back wheels if there is potential for loss of traction - i.e. you've stepped on the gas.

In the event that you do unexpectedly lose front traction, I believe it's a 1/7th rotation of the wheel before it's detected and the haldex does its thing.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

> Next time it snows take your foot off the beans around a roundabout. I was going slowly but I incorrectly went for a gear change and suddenly a had car that started to oversteer.

Well, snow has a way of magnifying your mistakes. Lift-off oversteer is a known effect on many different configurations of car. Changing gear on a corner is a mistake in any event. As a biker, it's a complete no-no. I don't see where quattro, torsen or anything else could help you if you attempt a gear change on a roundabout in the snow. You probably just need a bucket of tinsel and some patchwork trousers :)

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

quote: "Next time it snows take your foot off the beans around a roundabout. I was going slowly but I incorrectly went for a gear change and suddenly a had car that started to oversteer."

That is known as lift-off oversteer and is completely unrelated to drivetrain, it is an artifact of vehicle weight being redistributed over the axles due to a change in acceleration (specifically, during deceleration weight being transferred from the rear axle to the front, and therefore reducing the grip available to the rear wheels).

Yes, it might get exacerbated by a centre diff clutching in rears on an unbalanced throttle, and causing a rear wheel speed differential which overloads the available grip, but you can get the same effect with a front wheel drive car if you lift off mid-corner. Slowing down before the corner and maintaining speed (and therefore balance) through it will fix that for any vehicle, regardless of drivetrain ;)

If you don't want to skid on snow, choice of tyres and (a smooth) driving style are far more important than drivetrain, in my opinion ^^;

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

>this is from page 17 of the A3 brochure that's on the Audi website which would seem to contradict what you're saying, either that or Audi can be had up for false advertising...

Mr Hill is correct, sort of, S3 lacks a quattro drivetrain which you might expect from a S/RS car and does indeed 'sport' VWs dogful haldex, in fact it is to all intents and purposes a VW - their engineers, designers, production .

That said, its also much cheaper than Audi built S cars and (not even vaguely) aimed at petrol heads.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

It's not false advertising. I don't know about cars, but that statement could mean that sometimes it distributes 100% of power to the front wheels and 0% to the back. Continuously distributing power doesn't have to mean continuously powering, even though it really sounds like it :)

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

We're a a two car family, 4x4 for the rough stuff, school run, shopping etc and tidy car for business. Land Rovers and Isuzu for the 4x4 and variety of 60's to 80's classic Alfas for many years. Looking round for a good value, strong car for a contract in Ipswich in 1993, 2k budget. Could have been an old Saab or Audi, but finally bought a 90 quattro with 130k miles on the clock. It was a revelation. At last, a car that never broke down, needed no oil between changes (The last Alfa, 1984 GTV6 = ~300 miles per pint when I sold it), actually steered around corners like it was on rails and not a squeak or rattle anywhere. Rarely needed parts / nor had to open the bonnet either.

Not much has changed - bought a 4 year old S2 coupe in 1998 which I still have. Nearly 20 years old and still capable. I mean, who needs a tail happy car ?. Just wastes power in the process of going round corners :-). What do I replace it with ?. The quattros will slide, especially in the wet, but only when really provoked, never in normal use. A properly sorted, true engineer's car.

Even BMW now make a 4x4 saloon, or is it a coupe ?. Anyway, it took them a long time to get the message...

Chris

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

Kudos to C Hill for pointing that out. And yes, the Haldex handles exactly as described in low-traction conditions. It does have the advantage of slightly better fuel economy but nothing significant.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

> I believe it's a 1/7th rotation of the wheel before it's detected and the haldex does its thing.

Don't know how much of a rotation, but it is (painfully) noticeable.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

VW Golf 4x4 and similar, S3, RS3 = VW 4motion Haldex

Audi A4, A6, A8, all S and RS incarnations, and all 4motion VW's that arent Golf or Jetta = Quattro Torsen

The badge is shuffled according to marque, not the tech underneeth

I have an RS2 which is the older Torsen (Gen 2) system. I've also access to an S3 3.2 Quattro. Both cars are amazing to drive and Audi can wring every horse out of those engines, and MTM can squeeze a little more on top. Both drive superbly but there is a noticable, marked difference when you push the cars. The Haldex gets out of shape faster, BUT the S2 lets go in more spectacular ways. The S3 merlely landed me in the track gravel runs. The S2 went backwards, engine said "bugger this" as everything tried to get traction to at least one wheel whith grip, at this point, going backwards at about 60, it gave up and I steamed off the track backwards with no power assisted anything.

The S2 has however, laughed as the last heavy snowfalls with decent tires (Sottozero)

The A3 really is, in all carnations, a glorified Golf and in some cases the Golf is a better bet.

FWD 3.2 V6 A3/S3 is pant wettingly scary on anything than a flat, dry, perfectly smooth road. There wernt many to start and very few left.

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Re: Permanent 4 wheel drive

Like other commenters, I'm a died in the wool 4WD driver. With the exception of a Sierra for 10 months and a Citroen Xantia for a year (surprisingly good!), the main car has powered all four wheels since 1990 or so (my current car, a 17 year-old Legacy, has been with me for about eight years now). As an impecunious rally fan, my first 4WD was a five-year-old 1986 Audi 90 quattro, and yes, it seemed boring at first. I nearly got rid after a few months because the Volvo 240 GLE I'd had before was more exciting! However, once I realised that it's forte was driving rapidly but predictably, I started to love it. Since then, Land Rover products and the aforementioned Subaru have made up the bulk of my day-to-day driving, but I tend to keep a 2WD around for competing and having fun - the Legacy is a poor autotesting choice, though funny for the spectators!

The Subaru is about on its last legs, and with fuel prices as they are it is expensive to run. Whatever replaces it will be a diesel, and I might forego 4WD for decent traction-control, though an Octavia diesel 4WD at the right price would probably make me quite happy.

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No thanks.

Makes a Lotus 7/Westfield/Morgan* and their ilk look more and more appealing every day.

*Not TVR.

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Just wait...

for the self drive update

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Dull

I had an A4 sport back in the late 90s - great car. Looking for a new car recently (A3 size), just don't like the look of any current Audi - shame really.

Bought a A Class Merc in the end - very nice. Test drove the AMG version - wife wouldn't let me :(

Daftest extra it had was that every time you drove past a road sign, it displayed the sign on the dashboard - very distracting.

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Re: Dull

Exactly my first thought - the, ahem, rear aspect is particularly poor, sort of retro looking in a bad way.

(disclosure: I drive a latest gen (FN2) Civic Type-R GT)

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Anonymous Coward

@ AMB-York Re: "road signs... [are] distracting"

I can't believe how hard you fail with that statement.

You do realise that you're supposed to be paying attention to the road signs? The information they convey might actually be useful - after all it costs at least £7K to put one up so it's not normally done for decorative reasons.

I suppose you must be the kind of flawless driver who doesn't need any input, because you always know what hazards might lie around the next corner, don't you!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ AMB-York "road signs... [are] distracting"

Road signs on road (where theyre supposed to be) -- not distracting

Road signs popping up on dashboard -- distracting.

not too hard to follow

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@AC 13:25 GMT

I don't know where you read that AMB-York isn't paying attention to road signs or doesn't need them at all. All he/she wrote is that showing the road signs on the dashboard can be distracting which may in fact it make driving more dangerous.

May I suggest that you'd need such a display, just in case you pay as much attention to road signs as you do to comments.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Distracting

If you find them distracting then you obviously weren't paying attention to them in the first place.

Which means I would rather not share the road with you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dull

> Daftest extra it had was that every time you drove past a road sign, it displayed the sign on the dashboard - very distracting.

If you live in an area where speed limits are advisory, that is. I my corner of the woods, where you get fined for doing 55 in a 50 kph area, if I could I would take the road sign itself with me.

Besides, depending on your system, it should remind you of conditional speed limits under the right circumstances, for example when it's raining or when towing a trailer. I'm all for better situational awareness.

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Facepalm

To 62mph...

"How fast? Well, the S3 can sprint to 62mph in 4.8 seconds and charge on to a limited top speed of 155mph."

Is that "...sprint to 62mph" in 9.6 litres?

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Devil

How about a voice alert to remind Audi drivers-

To use their fucking indicators!

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