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Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, VW Scirocco in the snow test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Drive concepts Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, VW Scirocco in the test
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N ot only The duel of drive concepts has been whirling the flakes above the automobile round tables for decades: stubborn pullers versus talented ricochets, traction sense versus drifting fun.

It gets exciting in the snow

Or even all-wheel drive - see Audi Quattro. It would have won 24 out of 30 special stages when it was first used as the lead vehicle in the European Rally Championship in Portugal in 1980 and crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the winner. And gradually brought the four-wheel drive onto the road. Nowadays, for example, in the form of the incognito athlete A3 Quattro. The BMW 1 Series Coupé counters with rear-wheel drive, a longitudinally installed engine and equal weight distribution, while the VW Scirocco based on the Golf VI with an even wider track represents the current generation of front-wheel drive.

The classic traits of understeer and oversteer move ever closer together on dry roads - thanks to perfected chassis and finely regulating electronic driving aids. But how does it look on snow and with the electronics deactivated? For this purpose, the three test persons have to prove themselves on a closed, extensive ring road, in acceleration and slalom tests as well as on a tricky, narrow handling course.

In the gentle ups and downs of the curvy track, the Audi accelerates so vehemently on the partially packed snow cover, as if it were only possible on moderately grippy asphalt. He claws his winter tire tread in the snow and outclasses the Scirocco, which is noticeable by the traction control, without any significant ASR regulation. The BMW falls even more clearly. His ASR regulates hard and emphatically, the tail wobbles, looks restless, wants to break out. On the six percent slope, the Audi sprints to 80 km /h faster than the BMW on the level 50.

The BMW rocks

But you want to really fast with the BMW 1er do not drive at all. Its rear follows every snow groove, reinforced by the drive torque. This is how the BMW rocks itself, forcing its pilot to make constant corrections, which nevertheless do not prevent the permanent, undesirable giant slalom. When the electronics are deactivated, there is also a risk of massive transverse stays that require virtuoso steering reactions. The Scirocco, on the other hand, pulls steadily forward, mediatedSafety both when accelerating and when cornering. Not even the delicate load changes when taking the accelerator away bring him noticeably off track. So the VW feels more relaxed at 120 km /h than the BMW at 90, marking the best time in the 15-meter slalom.

The Scirocco reacts harmoniously

With that it even dupes the Audi, which easily slips over all four wheels and needs a little more space, but is otherwise at the top in all disciplines. It reacts harmoniously and well-balanced, leaving the driver generous freedom to drive across the board if desired - strictly proportional to the steering angle and accelerator position. The A3 Quattro makes it easy for its pilot, the adjustment works as intuitively and smoothly as that of the all-wheel drive to changing grip conditions. The best part, however, is his willingness to drive sideways under ESP supervision.

High mechanical grip and balanced self-steering behavior allow the Audi A3 to swivel gently from the ideal line and return just as gently. The Quattro driver only knows treacherous counterattacks from stories. For example those of the BMW driver. Sure, in professional hands a more violent, but very demanding transverse drive can be achieved with the classic rear wheel drive. However, it works more stable with the Audi, whose limit range is much wider and thus more usable for non-professionals.

The 1 Series is controlled with the accelerator

An impression that is seamless on the handling course continues. The Audi A3 around wide arches, which - if set up beforehand - he passes through the tight corners without wasting time. With deactivated ASR still understeering, it almost mimes the rear-wheel drive with the electronics completely switched off and a heavy accelerator foot. Almost, because the BMW 1 Series comes across even more jaggedly, but almost stands still in turns. With its rear-end agility, it wants to be controlled almost exclusively with the accelerator pedal.

The Audi wins the race

Due to the concept, the Scirocco understeers more, behaves more stable, offers its driver helpful load change reactions as a radius reduction. Nevertheless: The A3 Quattro remains handling boss, hums - depending on the ESP position - the VW Scirocco one, the BMW six seconds behind. Not 20 minutes like its rally ancestor at the European Rally Championship in Portugal in 1980, but at least.

You intervene relatively hard and lastingly and cannot make up for the physical shortcoming of the drive concept on snow. A talented pilot can take advantage of his agility in slalom and ride in the front (both with and without DSC), but on fast passages, it is precisely this rear-end activity that plagues the one with glaring traction problems. He can be stimulated by bumps and gullies, demands fastSteering reactions and threatens with massive counterattacks if the stability program is deactivated.



It accelerates appropriately, stays on an uneven snow slope and Stable and easy to control at high speeds, pleases with soft reactions. Under thrust, ASR and ESP control smoothly and effectively. In narrow passages he benefits from his calculable load change reactions. In the slalom he manages the best time, in the handling course he is just behind the Audi, but well in front of the BMW.


Usually leaves it alone the multi-plate clutch (LK) positioned at the end of the cardan shaft transfers the power to the front wheels. Only when there is slip does the electronics send more or less power to the rear, depending on the driving situation. This is done quickly and continuously by pressing the fins together using oil pressure from an electric pump.


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