With this article, AudiWorld is proud to start a new type of feature. The question of performance tuning or other aftermarket modifications comes up for many Audi owners. Our Discussion Forums are a testament to the many owners who are talking about and actually modifying their cars. AudiWorld is also sponsored -- through banner advertising -- by a virtual "who's who" in North American Audi motorsports. We thought that it would be interesting and beneficial to our readers to actually spend a day or more with the various companies. While most of these tuners have a website to provide more information, nothing can substitute for actual face-to-face interaction.
With that in mind, our first stop was at Vortrag Motorsports outside of Detroit, MI for a day of driving, pictures and Audi shop-talk. Primary owner Todd Candey, a seasoned Audi owner with professional driving experience, provided some spirited rides in the various cars . Two other AudiWorld regulars -- Vortrag part-owner Cathleen Stoeckel and frequent Discussion Forum contributor Cameron -- were also around and made their Vortrag-tuned vehicles available for evaluation.
I spent a considerable amount of time both riding in and driving Cathleen's amazing 1996 Laser Red A4 2.8q 12v. The most impressive thing about this car is that even though it has served as a virtual test-bed for Vortrag's upgrades and tuning programs, it has retained a very solid and well-constructed feeling. This says two things to me. First of all, Audi is building substantial cars that do not show the effects of high milage or high performance driving. Second, Vortrag is thorough and knows what they are doing in regards to interior and exterior upgrades.
My impressions of the red A4 were immediate and undeniable -- the car felt much stronger than any 12v A4 that I had ever driven. I owned a 12v A4 for three years and it never had get-up-and-go like this one, particularly at high speeds! Whereas most 12v A4's have no power to spare at 80mph in 5th gear, Cathleen's car was still providing strong acceleration. Todd claims that they've done nothing more than port work on the heads and intake manifold and adding Schrick cams to produce these types of results. He also scoffs at the notion that a modified throttle body could produce similar performance enhancement.
I was also struck by the amazing handling characteristics inherent in the car. Although the ride was set a bit firm for everyday driving, the ultra-tight suspension ensured that the car was always going exactly where I pointed it. The handling, to be honest, was probably better than any other A4 I have ever driven. Time and time again I changed lanes at speed, executed quick corners and basically tried to produce some unpredictable handling. The results were simply outstanding; the suspension was obviously superior to my own driving abilities. I should also mention the brakes at this point. At one point Todd was driving at about 80mph when he got on the brakes and brought us to an immediate, well-controlled stop. It was clear to me that these brakes could be trusted in any situation.
Vortrag has also done a nice job with the cosmetic features of this car. The hood, for instance, is designed by Vortrag and incorporates fiberglass materials and agressive vents. Extras such as the A!Avantgarde body kit, the beautiful OZ wheels, a pedal kit and modified lights really make the car unique. The overall experience says a lot about Vortrag's abilities and attention to details.