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Mini vs Audi S3 vs VW Golf R

  #1  
Old 09-17-2015, 06:13 AM
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Mini vs Audi S3 vs VW Golf R

My Car:
The days of owning a mini may be numbered for me. My current car is a 2012 Clubman S with JCW kit. I would have gotten an full on JCW, but when I bought my car, I couldn't get a JCW with a paddle shift gearbox. So I got the S with the tuning kit and some other add ons. I was born with a rare medical issue with my feet- in short, it means I can't use a clutch.

My Mini isn't the fastest car in the world, but Its a great driving car. Its got that unquantifiable soul that a sports car should have with great driving dynamics. While it drives well, I royally hate the suspension. Its extremely harsh, to the point that I don't want to keep my mini anymore. I've bent 3 sets of rims, I'm on my fourth set currently. I live in CT and we have crappy roads. To try and compensate for the crappy suspension I've gotten smaller wheels and softer non-runflat tires. This helped a little, but the tradeoff is that my mini doesn't handle as well as it should, which was it's strongest attribute. Besides the suspension, my car sucks in the winter on snow tires and its costly to repair and replace parts. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of the little repairs and how much they cost, time and time again. I've been looking for a car to replace my mini for the last year and have driven almost every sporty/ sports car (and a few trucks) under $60k.

The Search:
The best cars I drove were the new Corvette Stingray coupe, Range Rover Sport Supercharged and the E92 BMW M3. The worst might have been the new Mustang GT- what a disappointment that car was. My search and budget have led me to the VW Golf R and its Cousin, the Audi S3. They drive nearly identically. The VW still feels like a GTI and the Audi, honestly feels a little boring. Both cars are wholeheartedly better than my mini in every possible way. And while they're faster and more competent, they don't have that soul I get with my mini, which makes me unsure about getting either. Having said that, the practical side of my brain takes over because I really can't afford anything more expensive and other cars like a Subaru STI, Focus RS/ST and many other sports cars only come with a clutch, which I physically can't use. I'd like AWD too.

VAG Showdown:
That brings me to deciding on the Golf R or the S3. The golf has a hatch and is way more practical, the view out of the car is better than the audi. The seats are more supportive. While more clunky to use, the nav system is better and the car offers Apple Carplay With taxes, title and every other fee, total price is $43,888. However, I like light and open interiors in cars. The interior is like being in a cave. It only comes in black and a sunroof isn't an option. If I got the Golf R, I'd install an aftermarket sunroof for $1500 (Yes, I've done the legwork to make sure it fits and wouldn't cause any structural issues). My worry is, that while it technically wouldn't void the warranty, a dealer who doesn't want to do warranty work could blame my sunroof as the culprit of a problem, even if it wasn't, so they could get out of doing warranty work. (I have a friend who's a mechanic and engineer- he says that warranty repairs pay less and if a shop can get out of doing them, they will try to). So that's the Golf R in a nutshell.

[Pros]
Cost less
Hatchback design allows more interior space
better seats
larger windshield
Apple Carplay

[Cons]
no sunroof and aftermarket install could void warranty
dark interior
slightly firmer ride
ugly design



The Audi S3 cost a pretty penny more, a penny I'm not sure if I have. I can get a stripped down one for $46k or a used (8K miles) loaded one for $48K. More or less, it drives the same as the Golf R. The windshield is smaller, the seats, while comfy are less supportive than the R. It lacks the hatch, but resale value might be higher. It also has Audi MMI. If you're familiar with audi's that's their navigation/ multimedia interface. It sucks. It really, really sucks. My dad is on his 4th audi (A6T, A6, 2010 S4,2013 S4) and my mom is on her 2nd (Stasis tuned Q5, Q5 3.2). I can attest to how horrible the audi nav system is. My mini's nav system (which I love) is worlds better than Audi's MMI. The car comes standard with a panoramic sunroof and the seats have either red or grey inserts, which help brighten up the interior.

[pros]
Sunroof is standard
looks nicer
higher resale value
Audi service is pretty good
colored seats

[cons]
Less trunk space (not a hatch)
horrible user interface
small windshield makes it harder to see the road and overhanging stoplights
higher price


Which car would you get and why? (and no, I'm not keeping the mini)
 
  #2  
Old 09-17-2015, 07:23 AM
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Golf tdi, although you didn't list it! My wife has a 2013 and the car s nimble, torquey and fast enough for me. Beats my CM in most categories.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 07:57 AM
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Old 09-17-2015, 09:22 AM
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Coming from personally driving both the S3 and Golf R, both stock and tuned, I've always been more of a fan of the Audi. I may be biased though as I grew up driving them. I worked at an Audi and VW performance shop before my current job. Both being new cars, you have the luxury of not having to deal with too many issues and have the warranty. My question, do you plan to keep either one you go with passed the warranty or do you plan to trade them in and upgrade? Second, I prefer the overall ride feel and interior/exterior aspects of the S3 over the Golf R. I guess I have also been more of a sedan fan than a hatch fan. As far as the sunroof, a dealership will find a way to void any warranty if any problems arise after the install. What are you, ultimately, going to be more happy with in the end? I think the Audi is better, in your case, as far as comfort goes and the sunroof doesn't require any modification. Both are super fun cars to drive though, tuned and un-tuned.
 
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  #5  
Old 09-17-2015, 09:57 AM
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If you go with either of those, you'll still wind up paying quite a bit for the nickel-and-dime stuff. VW seems to be taking its parts/labor pricing cues from BMW.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 10:17 AM
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I'm really struggling to understand your priorities. Most of your pros and cons I consider the exact opposite. A sunroof appears to be #1 way above fun.

How about either an F56 JCW, the automatic is excellent, or something left field like the upcoming Camaro? A bore-wagen like the Golf or S3 will be "nice" for about a month until the newness wears off and then you'll regret it and the way-too-much you spent on them. If you had to pick between the two, obviously it's the Golf R, and then make sure you have an SO or friends that can give you rides to and from the dealership because VW doesn't do loaner cars.


Just as an aside, if you're bending wheels, it's you hitting things, not the car. No offense. I'm sure your roads seem bad but I can assure you they're relatively fine.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 11:49 AM
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Focus ST > all other options
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryephile View Post
make sure you have an SO or friends that can give you rides to and from the dealership because VW doesn't do loaner cars.
.
VW does loaner cars. I just got rid of my CC because I was in a VW loaner car far to often.

OP, I would look into a JCW, it clicks all boxes except carplay which personally I don't think is a huge deal unless you switch apps a million times each time you are driving and if that's the case then I suggest you walk and not drive to keep the roads safe. Bluetooth will link up and give you your tunes/books/podcasts or whatever. Not the end of the world.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 01:20 PM
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The loaner car thing might be dealership-specific, or maybe depending on the model you bought. Certainly my GTI and Golf TDI didn't apply for loaners in my area.

Originally Posted by Nicefeet View Post
Focus ST > all other options
The Focus ST is a great car, except not applicable for the OP because of his medical situation where he can't use a clutch pedal.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 01:36 PM
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The only small car that I even considered other than a MINI was the Subaru Impreza Hatch and WRX.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by PelicanParts.com View Post
Coming from personally driving both the S3 and Golf R, both stock and tuned, I've always been more of a fan of the Audi. I may be biased though as I grew up driving them. I worked at an Audi and VW performance shop before my current job. Both being new cars, you have the luxury of not having to deal with too many issues and have the warranty. My question, do you plan to keep either one you go with passed the warranty or do you plan to trade them in and upgrade? Second, I prefer the overall ride feel and interior/exterior aspects of the S3 over the Golf R. I guess I have also been more of a sedan fan than a hatch fan. As far as the sunroof, a dealership will find a way to void any warranty if any problems arise after the install. What are you, ultimately, going to be more happy with in the end? I think the Audi is better, in your case, as far as comfort goes and the sunroof doesn't require any modification. Both are super fun cars to drive though, tuned and un-tuned.
I plan to keep them past their warranty as well as make one mod when I get the car, which is an APR stage 2 tune. APR works with Audi and the tune doesn't affect my warranty :D, which is nice and will give me 80 extra bhp with an ecu upgrade and a downpipe. I

Nicefeet- I get the marketing of only offering a car with a clutch. Its supposed to appeal to people who want a car that's more connected to the road and has a sporty driving dynamic. Maybe it will make people who drive an automatic convert to using a clutch to get the car. For me, that's not an option as I can't physically operate a clutch pedal. If only I could specially request it under the americans with disabilities act, but I can't :(
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryephile View Post
I'm really struggling to understand your priorities. Most of your pros and cons I consider the exact opposite. A sunroof appears to be #1 way above fun.

How about either an F56 JCW, the automatic is excellent, or something left field like the upcoming Camaro? A bore-wagen like the Golf or S3 will be "nice" for about a month until the newness wears off and then you'll regret it and the way-too-much you spent on them. If you had to pick between the two, obviously it's the Golf R, and then make sure you have an SO or friends that can give you rides to and from the dealership because VW doesn't do loaner cars.


Just as an aside, if you're bending wheels, it's you hitting things, not the car. No offense. I'm sure your roads seem bad but I can assure you they're relatively fine.
A sunroof isn't above fun, but and interior that is light and airy is way up high on my list. The Golf r's cabin is like being in a dimly lit cave. Everything is black. Everything is dark. I hate that. Even if the sunroof were fixed in place, like an Evoque, I just need more natural light in the cabin.

BTW, one of the better cars I drove was the Camaro ZL1. Its got close to 600 bhp and it was FAST! The only issues were that I had trouble seeing out of the car. There's very little glass and my view out was obstructed. The seats were comfy, it drove superbly, it had a sunroof. Somehow driving that in the winter even with snow tires is asking for trouble. I don't know if the new one is easier to see out of and I doubt AWD is an option.
 
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Old 09-17-2015, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by The Rossness View Post
I plan to keep them past their warranty as well as make one mod when I get the car, which is an APR stage 2 tune. APR works with Audi and the tune doesn't affect my warranty :D, which is nice and will give me 80 extra bhp with an ecu upgrade and a downpipe. I
After warranties, Audi repair costs > VW repair costs. Especially anything badged S on Audi, parts and repairs tend to be a bit more. Just keep that in mind. The shop I worked at was a wholesale dealer for APR so I am all too familiar with the product. Good choice. Does APR work directly with the Audi dealership? When we installed tunes, especially on Audi's like RS7's, they still can void the warranty if wanted. Even though we worked closely with the VW and Audi dealerships, as they sent customers to us when they wanted tunes, etc., if anything happened they could pull that card and say, "Well it's tuned so..." That being so, it's all direct port OBD flashing so anytime customers of ours, like the RS7 and S7, would come in and we'd flash it back to stock, they'd go in for the appointment and then come back and we'd flash it back on. Although, unless they're in there looking for the software specifically, they wont know it's tuned (besides the obvious power increase). Stage II means you'd have to go with the high flow downpipe, which will definitely void a warranty as you'd be replacing the stock DP. Again, all just depends on the relationship with the dealer. I'm speaking from experience with dealers we directly worked with in Denver.
 
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