Deciding between the 1.8T and the
2.8... I wanted the A4 and wanted reliability in my first new
car, as well as some good acceleration. I was considering the
Integra GS-R, so the A4 I would buy had to be faster to warrant
the additional expenses.
I went into the dealership with a friend with 3 items to cover:
1.) Wanted to know the salesman's views on the differences between the 1.8T and the 2.8
2.) Wanted to tally up the numbers with my options and see what other costs are involved (didn't want "surprise" charges later)
3.) Wanted to test drive the 2 diff models to see what I could feel.
We did all of the above. I am 23 (at the time - 5/99) and the salesman was less than 5 years older than me. I had noted the 0-60 times of each model being 7.1 (2.8) and 8.1 (1.8T) from the brochure. I mentioned that I would be interested in doing some visual mods (wheels, etc) and would like to get the 0-60 in the mid 6's. But I was hesitant in doing any changes which would conflict with the warranty. The salesman, to my surprise, was suggesting the 1.8T. For a salesman to suggest the $4K less expensive car meant that he was being honest and not just in it for the sale.
We proceeded on for the test drive of our life. He took us out to show what the car could do. Amazing! Believe it or not, he tried to get "air" over a railroad crossing.
Well, from that day forward, I started to notice what people were saying regarding the differences between the models (I hadn't payed much attention before). What I found out and you will is that almost all of the aftermarket performance (engine) enhancements are made for the 1.8T. A big part of that is because the turbo is electronically controlled and it is under utilized by the factory programming. For $150-600, you can get a chip and filter that will get your 150hp up to the 190's. That's almost a 33% increase. Changing the exhaust, turbo or a few other mods can easily get you into the mid 200's. A bigger investment can get you over the 300hp mark. I think the typically A4 owner on this board has at least the chip and filter and are just shy of 200hp. The next largest group has spent the money on an exhaust and may be in the 210-225 range.
As for the 2.8, I believe a chip and filter may get you 15hp, bringing you to 205hp. Otherwise your only option is the PES supercharger for $4000+ and that will boost you to 280hp.
One thing I was shown was with the V6 engine you have an additional 150-200lbs on your front end. This difference seemed more obvious during the test drive than the 1 sec 0-60 difference.
I'm sure there's a lot more to add, but in the end I went with a '00 1.8T. I'm not planning on going overboard with mods, but I would like ~210hp. So for me, spending $500 (1.8T mods) to get there was better than $4000 (price difference between models). Not to mention that I don't have that weight on my front end.
Oh yeah, one other thing - fuel economy: With the turbo engine, you have the speed when you push it and you have the fuel economy when you don't. With the V6, you're paying for it all the time.
An amendment: These were *my* views and reasons for purchasing a 1.8T. I can come up with good reasons for purchasing a 2.8, but they don't fit my current needs.