April 17, 2005

Project Audi B6 A4: Intro / Vehicle Protection
Text & Photos by Steve Sherwood

Audi AG and its Audi of America subsidiary are continually thinking of new enhancements to the product line. The ultimate goal, of course, is enticing folks to get into a local dealership to slap down hard earned cash towards the purchase or lease of a new Audi automobile. In a perfect world they'd like to see this cycle repeated every three to four years.

Audi utilizes marketing data from focus groups, automobile market researchers and enthusiast websites, as well as feedback from its dealer network to constantly improve offerings and come up with the right formula. As it turned out the B6 platform A4 1.8T Ultrasport was perfectly targeted to my internal sensibilities, giving me the proverbial mental green light just as Audi hoped.

To be pragmatic I evaluated the competition thoroughly before making the final decision. The competitive mix was unsurprisingly the courtesy of Japan Inc. and included the Acura TL, Subaru Legacy GT, MazdaSpeed6 and Infinity G35. Each model, taken on its own, has strengths, but the overriding issue that brought me squarely back to Audi was fit and finish. Say what you want about the G35's styling or the fun factor of the Mazda - to any previous Audi owner the final fit and finish from the Japanese competitors is still clearly inferior.

Before choosing the B6 A4 I also considered the possibility of the B6 S4, but a few serious factors ultimately stood in the way. First and foremost was the $15,000+ price premium over the 1.8T. Granted the 1.8T would never offer serious sports car performance, but then again that was not one of my requirements for this vehicle. Also, some of the shortfall could be made up with various modifications at a smaller price. These mods will be covered in the coming weeks and months.

Second, with the price of gasoline apparently well above $2.00 a gallon for the foreseeable future, the gas guzzling V8 just wasn't justified. Bang for the buck played a considerable role in the decision process.

The Purchase

Audi of Oakland (in Oakland, CA) and my favorite Audi Brand Specialist, Ernst Gosch, stepped up to help me locate my desired car. The process is actually very simple utilizing the car locator service available to Audi dealerships. After agreeing upon a price I took delivery of a new option-laden 2005 Audi A4 Ultrasport sedan in Dolphin Gray a few short days later.

Project Plan

As with most of AudiWorld's project cars, the overall goal in this series is to develop a very drivable street machine that includes typical upgrades to address the driving habits and needs of the enthusiast market segment. To put it another way - if you too own a daily driver B6 A4 1.8T then you will undoubtedly find upgrades in this series which will be of interest.

This will not be the ultimate track car, however besides being a daily driver it could certainly be taken on the track or to an autocross event and be balanced, controllable, and more fun than stock. The planning budget for this project car could be characterized as moderate to intermediate. Each stage will include an explanation of what options were considered and the final decision, with the associated retail cost. Of course, your cost for obtaining these aftermarket modifications could vary considerably depending upon the supplier of the goods or services.

Modifications are specifically planned for the braking system, exhaust system, suspension system, chip tuning, wheel/tires, and various other stylistic changes to make this car more personalized.

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