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Deciding between a Golf R or an S3- Need some opinions

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Deciding between a Golf R or an S3- Need some opinions

 
Old 09-04-2015, 07:19 AM
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Default Deciding between a Golf R or an S3- Need some opinions

Howdy,

This is my first post on this forum and I could use some help. Over the last year, I've driven just about every car (and a few trucks) under $60k in search of my next car. My favorites were the E92 BMW M3 and the Corvette Stingray coupe. However those two come with compromises and have a high price for the options I want. I also live in New England and might want AWD for our winters. As I've gotten older and had more expenses (Like a house), money isn't what it used to be, and I need to conserve a little. I also have a rare congenital orthopedic medical problem with my feet, meaning a car with a clutch is not going to work for me.

Originally, I hadn't looked at either the Audi or VW. My dad is on his 4th Audi (A6, A6 Turbo, 2010 S4, 2013 S4). He currently has a 2013 S4 and I'm not a fan. Its big and bulky and doesn't come alive unless its driven hard and fast. I had it up in the triple digits once and that was fun However on a regular bassis, Its not for me. I like something lighter and more nimble.

Anyhow, I drove a 2016 S3 on a whim and quite enjoyed it. It reminded me of the old B5 S4 in all the good ways. I think it might be a major contender for my next car. It was fast, handled well and had a great dual-clutch. That also brings me to the VW Golf R. I sat in a [sold] one but wasn't able to drive it. Does it drive identically to the S3???? I drove a regular GTI and wasn't impressed at all. It drove ok, but I like a car that feels darty and less refined than the GTI. Conversely, I liked the S3 a lot. If the Golf R drives just like the S3 or better and less like a GTI, it might be a no-brainer to get one.

On Audi's, I hate the Nav system and MMI. The S3 has a unique pop-up screen, so replacing it with an aftermarket unit by pioneer or kenwood would be an issue. On the Golf R, I hear the Nav system is crap, but its a double-din and a replacement unit should be easy enough. The golf R also has more useable room being a hatch. It doesn't come with a sunroof, so I'f I wanted one, I'd have to cut a hole in the roof for an aftermarket unit. The S3 has a sunroof- its a big thing for me. I use a sunroof all the time.

What says the audi forum? I did not like the GTI when I drove it, but I liked the S3. How similar is the Golf R to the Audi in terms of feel? Which one would you get? Also, how are the sport seats in the S3? Are they like the recaro's in the S4?

For reference, My current car is a 2012 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works. I'm interested in getting a new car because my car as such a harsh ride and its wearing on me among other things. It also sucks in the snow (with snow tires).
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Old 09-04-2015, 07:27 AM
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I should also add that I plan to do the APR stage 2 tune on either car.
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:15 AM
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I love my S3, but from my understanding the R actually handles a little bit better.

Of course at the cost of looking a lot like a golf and missing a couple niceties... Now if you are looking at cost and saying you want to conserve, I wouldn't buy a Golf R because there's no saving there when you end up cutting a sunroof and replacing a nav unit.

Golf R would also be slightly cheaper to maintain.

I've also heard though that the Golf R around town handles like the GTI until given the spurs... so really drive it if you get a chance and decide for yourself. The suspension change alone could be enough to make the GTI similarities minimal.
Personally I could've gone either way and it was just up to timing.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:05 AM
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It depends on what you want. The Golf R drives better than the S3. The chassis of the Golf R was tuned by one of the famous rally drivers. I wanna say Walter Röhrl, but I could be wrong. Can't find the reference anymore at the moment. There is even a head to head between the new RS3 and the Golf R and the Golf R is faster around the track and more dynamic and better handling than even the RS3. The heavier 5-cylinder engine in the RS3 is part of it.

The S3 on the other hand offers more luxury and more of a high-end feel, but its chassis is deliberately tuned softer. As you noticed you can get things like sunroof with the S3.

Both the Golf R and the S3 start out with the same platform, engine etc. but the Golf R's tuning is focused on driving pleasure and less on bells and whistle, whereas the S3 is tuned for more luxury and softer driving dynamics. The Golf R is the S3's biggest disadvantage. I personally think the S3 isn't worth the money in the US, because Audi left out a number of luxury features that I would expect in an Audi. Such as adaptive cruise control, memory seats, Homelink etc. There is a way to get Homelink as a port installed option now, but I believe only if you don't order the tech package or something like that. On the other hand, many of these luxury features are actually available on the Golf R in Europe, but VW US deliberately keeps the Golf R more downmarket. They must have entered an agreement with Audi of America or something like that.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:10 AM
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We have adaptive cruise.
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Old 09-04-2015, 01:21 PM
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Only you can decide:

Sedan vs hatchback
Almost 10k price difference if you want some of the needed S3 options
Slightly longer wheelbase with the sedan
Different interior/exterior stylings
No manual in the sedan (not that you care)
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Old 09-04-2015, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ahyeah View Post
Only you can decide:

Sedan vs hatchback
Almost 10k price difference if you want some of the needed S3 options
A note on the price difference, there's much talk that the R is being marked up significantly by dealerships, so you may need to shop around just to find one that actually illustrates that 10k price difference. Some dealers have them riding side by side with S3 pricing at this point.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by sevenpsych View Post
A note on the price difference, there's much talk that the R is being marked up significantly by dealerships, so you may need to shop around just to find one that actually illustrates that 10k price difference. Some dealers have them riding side by side with S3 pricing at this point.
Yep, even with my 15 year history at the dealership, they would not drop the mark-up for a friend of mine. They are apparently more rare than the S3.

But HUGE minus, no mag suspension... makes the car a different class altogether IMO.
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:26 PM
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I'd get the S3 for comfort alone... comfort as in interior. Just far more upscale than the R. Since you stated that you do not like the Cooper's suspension, you will most likely not love the R's more "track" focused setup.

They are exactly the same car and really comes down to do you want - the Audi with 10K markup or the R... however as sevenpsych stated, you will be hard pressed to find an R without a huge dealer markup. You will most likely find an S3 at a better deal.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mroberte View Post
I'd get the S3 for comfort alone... comfort as in interior. Just far more upscale than the R. Since you stated that you do not like the Cooper's suspension, you will most likely not love the R's more "track" focused setup.

They are exactly the same car and really comes down to do you want - the Audi with 10K markup or the R... however as sevenpsych stated, you will be hard pressed to find an R without a huge dealer markup. You will most likely find an S3 at a better deal.
I agree 100 % , we test drove a couple of S3's and one Golf R. We were looking for a small sporty car with some luxury features. While the Golf R was a very nice car,what really sold us on the S3 was the interior. Everything just seemed more upscale in the Audi. The MMI screen, switches, materials etc just seemed to be a cut above. We ended up getting an S3 with the SS seat option, technology package, B&O sound etc. The added cost was worth it to us.

Plus we already own a Focus Hatch with a manual and wanted a sedan.
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