I finally found her

I'm happy to report that after much of angst and misery (with the much hated 2005 outback sport) I have found a suitable replacement for it.
I'm happy with 2003 A4 quattro (sport package).
No body roll despite the 17mm or so rear sway bar -> proper tuning of sport package is suspected. No signs of understeer (how is that possible on the car that employs the same 50/50 front/back power distribution is beyond me, proper polishing of torsen is suspected)
Now I'm sure some pundits would point that the comparison is not fair and I should use Legacy GT or something like WRX. Well, there is NO comparison: the shifter action is silky smooth, there are no irritating creaks and rattles and the whole power band is usable since the 4 banger is barely audible at 5k rpm.
You truly get what you pay for in this case. Amen.
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I'd only say it's not fair because the price comparison when new is huge--you truly do get what you pay for. If you were expecting sport from the outback sport, it's not surprising that you were disappointed. The outback sport is built more for offroad use than sporting use. Kind of like the sport in SUV. Also, I don't think the rattles and creaks are representative of a typical subaru.
The lack of understeer might also be a function of the suspension settings. The Germans are willing to create a more neutral car, and since the audi is so nose heavy, they needed to bias the spring and sway bar settings to a point closer to neutral to compensate.
Although, if the experience of the two peoople that I know with Audis is any indication, you will have more issues with it than the subie. But if you hated the subie,a nd love the audi, you'll likely come out happier in the end anyway.
Congratulations on your purchase and I hope you enjoy it.
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On Fri, 01 Jul 2011 05:54:00 -0700, weelliott wrote:

Audi's are cool cars...
They really look good from underneath when they're on the lift, and unless the OP got an exceptional one, that's the view he'll be seeing a lot of the time.
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Ok, put it another way: if I had $20-25k I still would've got an older audi than a new or slightly used WRX/LGT
Now with the recent forced soft offroading I might have to reconsider though.
The upcoming winter will put all dots in I.

I somehow doubt it. All comparos of STI vs Evo are quick to mention how unwilling STI is to rotate compared to the tailhappy evo. And for me, personally, understeer is a major fun killer.

The first thing I did on OBS was to ditch the 13mm rear for the 20mm sway bar from STI. That did not remove one bit of understeer. Then went the rear springs (STI oem, black) - not a yota of understeer is gone.
I guess it's the function of the center diff.

Time will tell. I already had the clutch along with the adjusted part replaced yesterday. $550 for the parts, much less in labor as I;m not in the states. I claimed the responsibility but the parts guy consoled me saying there is no way I could have trashed the disk to the bare metal in one soft off roading sitting pulling my rwd beater out of a grass covered clay field.
To do subaru justice: neither obs nor legacy (both manuals) would've spun the front wheels with the rears sitting idly as my A4 did in the process. If there is a 50:50 split in the normal case I'm not seeing it.
Anyhow, Subaru makes good enough cars for most people, but they just don't suit me and don't mix well with local luddites at the yearly technical car inspections spinning the wheels one axle at a time to check the brakes.
I guess the viscous coupling on anything south of STi would not get thick enough quick enough to get any damage to the center differential, but I just don't want to take any chances.
Since torsen is mechanical I wonder if it would fare any better though than a viscous coupling diff on a subaru with a stick.
I probably lied about the rear sway bar thickness: from the looks of the car on a lift the front looks about 32mm and the rear is S4 grade 20mm. (Mine has sport package)
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wondering if the trick of applying a little brake would have sent more power to the other axle?

the center diff is viscous LOCKING. I HAVE heard of some upgrade to the fluid to get it to lock more quickly after slippage.
Does the OBS or the Audi have rear LSD? I know my WRX and my wife's Outback do. I admit I don't softroad much though.
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the electronic gizmos on A4 are supposed to do that for you with no driver intervention. I have to admit I turned off ESP at the first sign of wheel slippage but, in retrospect, probably would've been better off if I left it on

the bastards at the inspections give the same single axle brake testing treatment to the subarus (according to their technician).

Turning one rear wheel while the car is on the lift in neutral does not move the opposite wheel (or the fronts).
I guess it's the same brake based unstuck assist that LSD in the late WRXs and outbacks was "replaced" with.
The only subaru in the whole lineup with the remaining LSD AFAIK is STI and the rear LSD is unlike in lesser WRXs is mechanical.
Still, LSD is a moot point when no power is transferred to the rear axle.
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The system in my stickshift 06 WRX wagon is as (somewhat poorly) described in the bottom section here;
http://www.awdwiki.com/en/viscous+coupling /
On it and my wife's 03 Outback, turning one rear wheel off the ground turns the other side in the same direction - LSD. However, she has a 4EAT autotran. and it has a wet clutchpack and torque split is variable depending on control to a valve in the transmission.
If the systems have changed or are offered with different gear in some locations, that's a bad decision on Subaru's part I think.
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