How swiftly time passes – one moment you’re the talk of the town, the next, tomorrow’s chip paper.
Recently, a more mature Audi A3 in black arrived in our vicinity. Hardly worthy of a fanfare, especially as my initial introduction to this car was as follows; bonnet up, engine internals strewn roadside, stationary. Owner holding aloft the camshaft, almost trophy-like as I drove by. This did not bode well for such a car. If the old girl posses life, ’tis but a glimmer.
For this version of the PQ34 is now a late teenager – and whilst aged is far from long in the tooth, but now appears to follow a darker path. This new to my locale version of the A3 (Type 8L for you nomenclature completists out there) was manufactured sometime in the latter part of 2001, first registered in January of 2002, denoting this model to be post-facelift version.
With the original only being available as a three door, this five door (Sportback) variant has that cleaned up frontal version of Dirk van Braekel’s urban runabout. The headlight treatment still looks fresh, even when most examples have now taken on that milky effect when plastic ages. Can much light emit from lenses so? The car does have a current MOT pass, an effective guarantee for all matters mechanical… and I live on the moon.
Remaining with the Sea of Fecundity, the mileage this car has covered brings forth more lunar sobriquets. The first recorded mileage at January 2006 is 76,739, substantial enough for a four year old car. By January 2011, those wheels have now turned 140,707 miles and an MOT fail but for easily repaired and relatively normal maladies.
However, the very next year and another ministry fail with an extensive (and expensive) list, that mileage has suddenly fallen to 115,866. Could this have been a typo by the test engineer, for the next record is for the car to pass with 162,000 miles? The cars odometer currently reads at 203,742 with another MOT imminently necessary. The back catalogue of required repairs reads like a component providers dream ticket: struts, suspension arms, both pads and discs and at one juncture “the dual mass flywheel is starting to knock.”
Goodness only knows how much my near neighbour shelled out for this mechanical bombshell. Or indeed, has the oil filter been attended to since the car presumably left the comforting bosom of an Audi service department. That might account for the trophy camshaft…
To the interior – worthy of a mention as, barring the now ground in dirt of goodness knows how many owners, still carries off that modern approach that helped boost Audi sales to the point of narking their VW bosses. I’m sure a good vacuuming session and judicious use of the proper cleaning materials would bring about a highly agreeable effect and bring about what van Braekel’s design team had eyes on all those years ago.
To the cars exterior; again, a good wash and brush up would do no harm in returning the black paint to being ship shape and Bristol fashion. Inevitable scratches and scuffs are there but the panels retain their gaps with no hint of tin worm which is impressive for such an age. If accident damage has been accrued, one cannot tell. Another sure fire sign of integrity.
Still not convinced? Marker pen in black to enhance the registration plate alphanumerics must surely win you over now? Those four silver rings still shine with an intensity bordering on the sinister. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Although I’ve yet to witness this pocket rocket do battle with anything other than the driveway the A3 resides upon, the badge on that rear lid says it all. One point nine Tee-Dee-I.
Pub bores could hold court twenty (and more) years ago extolling the revered badge with its otherworldly fuel mileage figures (fifty plus ‘round town, mate) eleven second 0-60 time, 100bhp and almost 120 mph v-max. And this in a family car, ye gods! One can almost hear the designer labels twitching in anticipation, the BlackBerry phone poised for a dial up search.
The title of this piece refers to the unit injector, which, along with a turbocharger adorned with variable geometry held sway with said pub bores and led to the Audi A3 becoming the darling of the PlayStation 2 generation, addicted to excess even if the Golf In a Posh Frock initially arrived as a perfectly respectable, almost anonymous hatchback.
From these relatively humble beginnings, the A3 went on to corner significantly large sales with ever increasing variations in engine sizing along with overtly placed aggression. Whereas cousin Golf is seen as dependable, to many, pure, the (then) smallest of wares from Ingolstadt, has corralled a darker epithet.
Though it is doubtful this singled out example will be tailgating anyone in the foreseeable. When I see this car, my ears sense the diegetic sound of menacing music, a tone foreboding in rhythm. Maybe it’s the black paintwork; or maybe I’m reading too much into this. Either way, these days that Pumpe Düse emits nothing whatsoever – in this instance, no bad thing. Since writing this piece, the car along with owner have mysteriously disappeared. Darker spirits at work?