February 12, 2006

Project B7 A4: Initial Upgrades
Text & Photos by John Stahmann

Project B7 A4 was acquired from Strong Audi in Salt Lake City, Utah. A close friend of ours, Jamie Jensen, had been an Audi Brand Specialist at one of the competing Audi dealers in the Salt Lake City area and had recently moved to Strong Audi. Having purchased several vehicles from Jamie in the past, we followed him to Strong Audi. Jamie helped us decide on the right Audi this time and even provided some input on color. We've owned some brighter colored Audis in the past – both Brilliant Yellow and Imola Yellow - but the B7 body looks so great in silver.

There was some initial questions around our decision to go with a standard A4 rather than the more sport-minded S-Line package A4. Based on what we had planned for this car, however, Audi's S-Line package just didn't justify the extra expense. We were already planning to upgrade wheels and add S4 door blades (as well as some other visual elements) that would take the car in a slightly different stylistic direction than the S-Line. The S-Line is a beautiful car; we just prefered for this project to give the car our own personal touch.

Having owned a 2000 S4 in the past, we also briefly considered a brand new S4. That said, the tuning potential of the A4 (and the lack of tuning potential in the B7 S4) helped make that decision fairly quickly. Also, this A4 may be only filling a gap on the way to the ultimate car – the RS4.

Project Plan

In most cases AudiWorld project cars are driveable street cars with typical upgrades that bring out the enthusiast characteristics. The modifications will add performance and visual appeal, while retaining the car’s driveability and reliability. Our Project B7 A4 will probably see occasional track use, but will also need to be reliably driven in the winter.

This vehicle also be used at the World of Speed events on the Bonneville Salt Flats, so its straight line speed and acceleration will ultimately be quite important.

Intitially, planned modifications include chip tuning, wheels/tires, an upgraded braking system, exhaust system and other visual changes to set the car apart from typical A4 2.0Ts. A 4-point roll cage and 4 point harnesses will also need to be installed for use on the Salt Flats, and some accessories such as the Audi IPod adapter will be installed.

Wheels and Tires

Having owned two A4s and and S4 prior to this A4, we have an extensive collection of A4 and S4 parts in our garage. We had acquired a set of BBS CH 18x8.5 wheels to use on a 2000 S4, and later on a 2003 A4 Avant. When we drove the 2005.5 A4 2.0T home from the dealership, the first thing we did was roll the CHs out of the garage to see how they would fit on the new Audi. On both the 2000 S4 and the 2003 A4 Avant we had run the BBS CHs with 255/35 18 Kumho Ecsta tires and were very pleased. The currently mounted Kumhos were nearly bald, however, necessitating a new tire purchase.

The CHs with 255/35 18 Kumho Ecstas did fit Project B7 A4 great - no rubbing and the appearance was spot on. We thought they looked slightly thin so changed specs slightly and went with 235/40 18's for the new set of Kumho Ecstas.

The BBS CH wheels now deployed on our A4 are very similar to the wheels offered directly by Audi on the S4. BBS actually makes the new Audi wheel, but it does differ slightly compared to the genuine BBS CH. The Audi wheel is a narrower wheel (18x8 vs 18x8.5), it doesn’t have the ‘Motorsport’ inscription on the face, doesn’t have the design holes opposite the lug bolt holes and is finished in a more silver paint color than the BBS CH. Because of the extra width, the BBS CH sticks out slightly further and gives the vehicle a meaty, wider look.

Although we love the BBS CHs, we may be looking to upgrade the wheels to a 19” variant sometime in the future. As most enthusiasts know, the urge to upgrade wheels on an annual basis runs quite strong.

S4 Door Blades

The next modification to Project B7 A4 was replacement of the standard A4 lower door trim or ‘blades’ with the wider, more aggressive blades found on the S4. These door blades can be ordered directly from any Audi parts department. Replacing the door blades has got to be one of the easiest modifications available that will subtley change your Audi's look.

There are two small screws that hold each blade on the door. To upgrade, simply remove these two screws, slide the blade off the door, slide the new blade on and replace the two screws. Again, it's a very easy modification considering the visual impact it provides.

The blades arrived, as parts typically do, in an unpainted dark grey color. When we put them on they gave Project B7 A4 an S6-ish look, as the stock blades on the S6 were unpainted from the factory.

Since first putting them on, we have had the upgraded blades painted silver to match the rest of the car.

Chip Tuning

The 2.0T is a wonderful engine. It has a different sound to it than the 1.8T, which some feel sounds like a TDi. In stock form the A4 is a smooth engine with reasonable power, but one of the rationales for buying the 2.0-liter A4 in the first place was the tuning potential of the turbocharged powerplant. We, just like most enthusiasts, needed more punch.

APR was one of the first chip tuners offering the ability to switch chip programs in the B7. Their Directport switching allows the user to have multiple programs stored (and then selected) through the cruise control stalk of the vehicle. We chose to have 4 programs installed on Project B7 A4 – stock, 91 octane, 93 octane, and 100 octane. In our part of the country 91 is the highest octane available in premium form. There is 100 octane race fuel available though.

The Audi was chipped by the local APR dealer, Alex’s Autohaus, in Salt Lake City. Alex has many years experience in working on German cars of all types, and his staff was very friendly and professional throughout the upgrade. The chiptuning process seemed simple and straightforward. Alex pulled the car in the shop, plugged his flashloader tool into the OBDII port and began downloading the program from APR into the car. Once the download was completed we test drove the car and that was literally all there was to it. The entire process, test drive included, took about 2 hours from start to finish.

The first program we tried was the 91 octane program. This really opened the car up and gave it the extra oomph that we craved. APR rates their 91 octane program at 232 hp/273 lb-ft of torque compared to the stock rating of 200 hp/207 lb-ft and you can really feel the difference that the extra 32 ponies makes. Driven back to back with a stock 2000 Audi S4, the chipped 2.0T actually feels quicker.

Switching to 100 octane gas - we ran a few full tankfulls through - and the requisite 100 octane programming creates nothing less than a monster. We haven’t seen specific ratings for the 100 octane program, but based on the ratings of the 91 and 93 octane programs we are guessing at torque ratings somewhere in the 315-320 lb-ft (RS4 territory). The horsepower rating is probably around 260+. After driving around with several full tanks of 100 octane, it was understandably a little disappointing to go back to the 91 octane program. Somehow it doesn't make sense to fill up continuously at $4.29/gallon...

Every time we drive the A4 we end up grinning and to date the biggest reason is the chip tuning upgrade. Providing great bang for the buck, APR's chip makes the 2.0T A4 a true pleasure to drive. Since our initial upgrade APR has actually come out with an update to their 2.0T programming, but as of the date of publishing for this article we had not gone back to Alex for the upgrade.

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