How many 23-year-olds do you know has the latest Audi A4 as their first car? I know one, he is Amal. Never mind that his is the base 1.8-litre with a light-pressure turbocharger and CVT gearbox. It is still a sprightly four-door saloon with 160bhp and 210Nm of torque from its smooth yet free-revving 4-cylinder engine. Out of the box, the car gets to 100km/h from rest in 8.9 seconds and tops off at a not-too-shabby 218km/h.
As with almost every car featured in this part of the magazine, Amal couldn’t leave it alone. He has sampled enough tuned A4s to know what he wants done to his ride to make it more special.
After doing his research, Amal decided that Alex of RS Tuning was the man to juice up his ride. Alex is no stranger to Audis. He is rumoured to be so good with them that even the local distributor has used his services from time to time. The brief to Alex was simple: crank out more power and torque without opening the engine and changing the internals; care should be taken to preserve the gearbox, which is known to be more fragile than a torque converter automatic.
During the interim, there was a more “serious” mod list under consideration, one that involved shopping across tuners and suppliers. But that meant contending with a long and arduous journey of figuring out how to make one component work with the other to preserve the standard car’s level of reliability and driveability.
The decision then was to go for an MTM Stage 1 upgrade, which consists of an ECU reprogramming (or re-flashing) and a cat-back exhaust system. He also had the spark plugs changed to Volker iridium and the original panel filter ditched in favour of a high-flow, washable unit.
As a result, the A4 now has a more potent 210bhp on tap. Torque has increased markedly, too – by a substantial 100Nm to 310Nm. These new figures put it in the ballpark of the A4 2.0 TFSI, which has the same power output but 40Nm more torque. According to the GPS-equipped performance meter, the century sprint was timed at 7.6 seconds and a top whack of 242km/h was registered during a test drive up north.
With such an impressive increase in performance, Amal set about finding a set of stoppers that will ensure his car will have no problems shedding speed. He found what he wanted when he saw an Audi R8 zoom by one day. Alex sourced and found a brand-new set of front brakes from the supercar. These beauties, comprising two 8-piston calipers and two massive 365mm cross-drilled disc rotors, were duly installed with HEL stainless steel brake lines. Braking performance is strong and the modulation is excellent but not overly sensitive.
As the A4 is equipped with Drive Select, which incorporates adjustable damping on top of altering throttle and steering responsiveness, it was not possible to opt for aftermarket dampers. But there are lowering springs for the car available and Amal chose a set from German suspension experts H&R.
Despite the fact that it now sits about 40mm lower than standard, ride comfort has actually improved across all three Drive Select modes while reducing body roll – a case of all gain and no pain.
If you have not guessed it by now, black is Amal’s favourite colour. The head- and tail-lights have been tinted black and the front grille has been de-chromed to black. The wheels are 19-inch Hartmann HR8 alloys, in matt black. Complementing these black-themed exterior touches is a full body kit from Audi aero body component specialist Caractere.
The kit matches the car’s silhouette and does not look over-the-top. Take the rear spoiler, for example. This slither of polyurethane sits right at the edge of the boot lid and looks delightfully understated; better than a huge GT wing anytime.
I’ve saved the most fun mod for last. RS Tuning has not only unleashed more horses but also “unlocked” certain electronic goodies not found on the standard A4. The dials, for example, now perform a synchronised sweep before the backlight comes on when the ignition key is turned. This is something Audi has reserved for its S and RS models. To enhance safety, the LED tail-lamps will flash repeatedly during emergency braking.
All in all, this mod job has cost almost $20,000 and Amal says that he intends to stop here because the car is exactly how he envisioned it to be when he started the project. He says that his next car will be another Audi, the S5 to be exact. I think he should just take a bigger leap forward and plumb for the upcoming RS5, then put it through a course of tweaks. Now, that will be worth a drive!
MTM Stage 1 ECU remap
Defi Exhaust temp gauge
Defi Turbo boost gauge
Defi Link controller
Audi TTS flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel
CARACTERE Front bumper
CARACTERE Side skirts
CARACTERE Rear spoiler
CARACTERE Rear diffuser
Audi S4 LED black-tinted tail-lights
LED Black-tinted headlights
Hoen Xenonmatch foglights
Custom Carbon fibre side mirrors
Custom Blacked-out front grille
Hartmann HR8 19” alloy wheels
Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 (245/35 R19)
AudiR8 Brembo 8-pot calipers (front)
Audi R8 365mm 2-piece ventilated and cross-drilled disc rotors (front)
HEL Stainless steel braided hoses (front and rear)
H&R Lowering sport springs
MTM Cat-back exhaust system
Custom Stainless steel exhaust piping
K&N Air filter
Volker Iridium spark plugs