With the initial background out of the way the obvious question is how does it drive? Absolutely brilliantly. MTM has done a wonderful job extracting more performance from the already well-rounded RS4 without diminishing the core attributes which make the car so special. Firing up the car, the 4.2-liter FSI V8 purrs at a very smooth idle just like a stock RS4. We do detect a hint of something a few octaves deeper and more menacing however. The unmistakable V8 burble will make a muscle car fanís heart melt.
When the gas is prodded at idle the engine instantly responds. Scratch that, itís something quicker than instant which borders on spooky telepathy. The staccato bark of the RS4ís V8 bumping up against the 8,250 RPM rev limiter happens long before the tachometer can sweep its way from idle into the red zone. The little red dash needle loses the race to the RS4ís forged crankshaft every time. The lightened flywheel and clutch assembly help the Clubsport rev quicker than any other streetcar we have ever experienced. In the lower gears, we find we need to anticipate the shifts (instead of relying on the lagging tach) otherwise we bump the rev limiter. Admittedly, this happens more than a few times, however itís a car that takes some getting used to. Heel-toe maneuvers take a very deft and skillful touch otherwise one is forced to check the rev limiter operation on a regular basis.
The time had finally come for us to settle into the MTM RS4 Clubsport's deep and supportive racing-inspired Recaro seats. The 4-point harnesses gets tightly fastened for good measure. In the back, an OMP fire extinguisher mounted alongside the roll hoop and chassis bracing reminds us this is a no-compromise car that is at home on the race track.
Easing the clutch out we detect some driveline shudder as the stiffly sprung unit engages with the light weight flywheel. Although very grippy, the clutch MTM uses on this car is not the most user-friendly unit available. Count on extra vibration and noise at lower RPMís. That said, considering that the stock RS4 clutch is known as non-robust we were glad to have a more durable unit on board even with the compromise in drivability.
Making our way out of the small ďdorfĒ of Wettstetten at such a responsible pace was borderline punishment. We knew just what kind of potential was resting under our right foot, and it took every last bit of will power not to unleash the beast. The oil was still cold so we had enough excuses to drive the car leisurely and see how it responded under normal driving conditions.
The Clubsport is a little more extreme than a stock RS4 when restrained to commuter duty and limited to a sane pace (meaning louder, harder, edgier), but certainly livable. The full-back MTM exhaust system lets out a mean grumble with very little accompanying drone. The rear exhaust flap is still fully operational via either the dash mounted ďSĒ button or a slick remote control which resembles a key fob. The difference between the normal and S modes, in terms of sound volume, is considerably greater than stock. The tone transforms from viscous to scary at the push of a button. Yes, we do believe that this car will actually scare women and children. The sound is aggressive and exotic - and beautiful.
We soon reach the outskirts of town with a warm engine and a relatively empty roadway. A quick snick of the shift lever into 2nd gear in perfect harmony with a throttle blip results in a downshift that would sound right at home at the end of Le Manís Mulsanne Straight. Unable to hold out a second longer, we bury a heavy right foot into the floorboard. As expected, our body becomes sharply pressed into the supportive seats. However, the aural overload caused by the shrieking blower, velvety smooth V8, and extreme G forces caused an unexpected thing to happen when we start to laugh uncontrollably like a kid riding without the training wheels for the first time.
We know the Audi RS4. Itís swift, composed, and well behaved. This car is none of those things; Mr. Mayerís wild creation is something totally different. It is brutal and not something to triffle with. In fact itís about as subtle as a taser shot to the groin. Second gear is quickly dispensed and itís time for 3rd. The maniacal shriek caused by the blower pulverizing air and forcing it down the RS4ís throat sends chills down our spine. Itís very, very naughty, in a very, very good way.
We let up and roll-on through the gears again to get a feel for the Clubsportís powerband. Down low there is more torque than stock, but the car builds thrust very progressively. Although abnormally aspirated, this isnít anything like driving a turbo car. It still needs to be wound up and itís still a rewarding driverís car. It would be a real joy to drive on a real racetrack. Unfortunately, no closed courses were presently available and so we had to settle for an Autobahn romp. Woe.
It was still fairly early in the morning so the Autobahn traffic was light. We circled the cloverleaf in 3rd gear eyeing up gaps in traffic. We squeeze in between two trucks in the right lane and put our foot down even stronger. We run each gear up to redline and shift. The MTM RS4 Clubsport pulls flawlessly and seems to never actually run out of breath. MTM claims this car will top 200 mph and we have no trouble believing them. We would have been more than willing to verify this claim, but the prototype ECU code wouldnít allow it. Instead we hit a very hard rev limiter at about 280 km/h indicated (174 mph) which stopped our progress instantly. Coasting down to slower speeds (limp mode doesnít give you many other options), the check engine light flashed to remind us to stay on good behavior. We were later assured that this anomaly was a development safety feature which would not make its way into the final product.
The performance numbers speak for themselves. With a 4-wheel, tire-spinning launch, the MTM RS4 Clubsport is capable of reaching 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. Our simple butt-dyno thinks this car would run a low 12 second quarter mile trapping around 115 mph (for those into straight line racing). For readers who prefer instead to fantasize about lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife, we're pretty sure this car could dip into seven minute range, easily quicker than any production 4-door in existence.
In this year's esteemed Tuner Grand Prix held in Germany, MTM's RS4 clubsport lapped the Hockenheimring in an amazing 1:11.785 on its way to an impressive 5th place overall finish. To put this lap time into perspective, that's quicker than a half million dollar Pagani Zonda S, and matches Porsche's latest 997 GT3 or the C6 Z06 Corvette. Due to the removal of the back seat, the Clubsport RS4 was forced to compete amongst smaller and lighter cars (such as tuned 400 hp Donkervoorts and Porsches with nearly 600 hp) in the open category. Had the RS4 been entered into the sedan category it would have easily won this class by nearly 2 seconds. For reference, a stock B7 RS4 will lap the Hockenheimring in about 1: 15.4. The MTM RS4 Clubsport is nearly 4 seconds quicker!
For a 4-door sedan on pump gas this is ultra impressive. The car is a breeze to launch with the added low end torque and a viciously gripping race clutch. The power is linear and predictable while traction is near infallible; the car always feels completely buttoned down. The brakes seem extremely solid, as they should be, though we admittedly did not have a race track available to test them thoroughly enough to pass any credible judgment.
As fun as this supernatural RS4 is in a straight line, the corners are where the entire package comes together. The chassis and steering feedback is so positive which in turn gives the driver enormous confidence. The driver is constantly pushed by the car to go even faster because there always seems to be more in reserve and the limits are far above what is sane under public traffic conditions. Tearing down the winding country roads is scary easy. The trees become a blur and the ditch posts become apex markers. If this car doesnít make you feel like Frank Stippler, youíve chosen the wrong hobby.
Overall, MTMís RS4 Clubsport is an unforgettable machine. It is right up there with some of the best cars weíve ever driven. The only Audi we can truly compare it to is another one of MTMís fine creations, the B5 RS4 Sedan Project. This B7 supercharged Clubsport may not be able to compete with the huge torque swell provided by turbocharging or limber feeling provided by the more svelte B5 chassis, but it does bring more composure and precision to the table as the B7 chassis is much stiffer and offers better feedback. The retained linear power delivery lends itself very well to racetrack driving and it seems like it would be hard to make a mistake in this car.
For those who subscribe to the ďtoo much is not enoughĒ mantra, MTMís supercharger and Clubsport packages can elevate a 4-door sedan to a performance level exceeding most sports cars, all while making lusty, throaty, velvety noises as only a multivalve V8 can. The supercharger snarl is just the icing on the cake.
A major point worth noting is that Roland believes that what works on the RS4 should work on the Audi R8 too since the engines are nearly identical. Roland confirms that MTM hopes to have an R8 supercharger conversion available shortly after the vehicle's launch. Cleverly, MTM is developing the supercharger for the R8 now using the RS4 as a test mule. R8 fans wonít need to wait much longer to get their hands on 500+ horsepower.
The Clubsport was one of those test car that we simply did not want to give back. We spent a few hours behind the wheel and burned an entire tank of gas with a cheek-to-cheek grin the entire time. Handing the keys back to Roland wasnít exactly easy, but then again we had something to look forward to such as a 500 horsepower supercharged Q7 and a 400 hp turbocharged R-TT 3.2. More on those soon!
In fact stay tuned to AudiWorld as we present more information, test drive impressions, photos, and video content on MTMís exciting and well executed tuner cars.
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