|September 6, 2005
The RS4 Sedan Project Revisited
From the moment I took this story on, it was very clear that Nikolaos Seizis is a no-nonsense kind of guy. Initially, it started with a multi-page briefing which listed the many modifications he had performed on his 2000 B5 S4 (better known as the "RS4 Sedan Project") including his planned future modifications. He also had my trip to Prague, Czech Republic meticulously planned. I was asked if I preferred to shoot photos at a race track (which he would rent for the afternoon), airport, forest, or a local historical castle. He assured me that any type of backdrop and any kind of test drive could be arranged. It was obvious he took this car very seriously.
During my drive to the Czech Republic, I honestly did not know what to expect. I had read about the car before on AudiWorld as well as seeing it showcased on the MTM website. Nick's goal was to create a sedan version of the coveted B5 RS4 (non-North American market only Avant special edition) using only the best parts while achieving factory level fit, quality, and reliability.
The B5 S4 is very well known for its enormous tuning potential. A robust driveline and "conservative" factory state of tune allow the character of the car to be completely transformed. The initial improvement to cost ratio of basic S4 performance parts is difficult to beat when compared to any other vehicle platform. However, throwing a large stack of money at a car does not guarantee satisfactory results. While being involved with race car fabrication and car tuning over the past decade, I have seen my fair share of "checkbook tuners"; people who will buy a pile of expensive performance upgrades and assume the level improvement will be directly proportional to the amount of money spent. Often results are less than expected due to modifications that are not thoroughly thought out, or a lack of direction for the project. It's often the small details, which make everything come together and work as one balanced package.
To make a long story short, the modifications Nick has made to his car work. They not only work, they work amazingly well.
The weekend kicked off with a visit to Nick's house to meet his family and wife. While sipping iced tea and eating some of his mother's delicious Czech cake, we began to discuss the main order of business: the Nogaro Blue beast parked in the underground garage below.
Being an owner of a highly modified S4 myself, I am quite familiar with the usual modification steps. I know what the car's weaknesses are and the challenges that present themselves when trying to make the car perform outside of Audi's original intentions. Needless to say, Nick has done his homework. The conversation quickly escalated from "nice car" to an in depth discussion on unsprung weight, rotational mass, corner balancing, center of gravity, and optimizing weight distribution. All of these points have been carefully considered and improved during the modification process.
As soon as Nick fired up the 2.7 liter, 30 valve, twin turbo mill, I noticed that it lacked the usual S4 sound. In fact, the only S4 parts remaining on this engine are the engine block and engine covers. The rest is MTM or RS4 grade. It emits a deep rumble that even pales my piggie piped/ASP tru-dual equipped car. You don't just hear the car you feel it. Very carefully, Nick pulled the car out into the driveway. The first observation was that the car is flawless. The condition might as well be new. Not a scratch, dent, or chip is to be seen anywhere on the car. Nick informed me that much to his wife's chagrin, his usual detailing procedure spans a weekend's time.
Not much has changed on the RS4 sedan project since the last time AudiWorld wrote about the car. A Fiber Images carbon fiber hood has been fitted which not only saves weight from the front of the car, it also lowers the center of gravity. The rear seats can be easily removed for race track use. In their place, a custom Alcantara cover with the MTM logo is fitted.
Prior to completion of the project, Nick will have the car shipped to a firm called Modena Design in Italy. Modena Design produces the carbon fiber body panels for the supercar maker Pagani (makers of the Zonda). Their experience in carbon fiber work is second to none. Modena Design has custom designed carbon fiber parts for his RS4 sedan project including a front bumper, front fenders, all four doors, rear bumper, and rear trunk lid. Currently, Nick's car weighs 110 kg (220 lbs) less than stock. Approximately 90 kg (200 lbs) of this weight savings is from the front of the car. Once the carbon fiber parts are fitted, Nick expects the car to weigh 230 kg (505 lbs) less than stock with a target weight of 1420 kg (3125 lbs).
There is more to this weight reduction than just the numbers. As a testament to the methodical step-by-step modification of the car, the weight reduction has also improved the weight distribution and center of gravity without sacrificing the luxury features, which make the S4 a special car to begin with.
After a brief introduction, walk around, and question/answer session, it was agreed that we would meet up the following day for a test drive. Fair enough. My initial skepticism was beginning to turn into curiosity and excitement.