After contemplating several viable exhaust solutions we finally decided on the Neuspeed cat-back exhaust and down-pipe. It was chosen for the decent price, nice styling, good throaty sound, and good fit and finish. Two other exhausts were considered and could have been easily substituted for the Neuspeed solution (AWE and Thermal exhausts). Our goal was to tap any potential power gains, but also to instill a reasonably aggressive exhaust note.
Unfortunately the exhaust install did not occur as smoothly as we would have liked since we were initially provided with a down-pipe mounting bracket for a 5-speed manual car rather than a 6-speed. This little nugget was not actually discovered until the stock exhaust had been removed and the new exhaust was partially installed. The stock exhaust had to be re-installed until a few days later when the appropriate mounting bracket arrived. This turned out to be a rather costly install. Learn from our mistakes and check all your parts before taking it somewhere to be installed or before you try to install it yourself.
One item of note is that unlike the stock exhaust, several of the aftermarket versions available do not include an adjustment between the rear resonators to make the tips closer or further apart. This would be a suggested and welcome change in all future aftermarket designs. We had to do a bit of jockeying to find a decent mounting position for the rear tips. While it still turned out very nice, if you are a perfectionist this is one of those nagging things that could hold you up a bit on the install. All in, the exhaust install took about two hours with a good portion of the initial time being used to let the stock exhaust cool down so it could be handled.
Diverter Valve / Boost Gauge
Having had several Audis with stock diverter valve issues, we decided to just be on the safe side and install both a Bailey Motorsport diverter valve and an AWE Tuning center vent boost gauge. Todd Sager of AWE Tuning provided both of these items for the project.
The install of both went off without a hitch, however, neither are installs that the average owner should attempt by themselves.
The boost gauge requires removal of the stock center vent assembly – an anxiety-inducing piece of work since any damage to the center vent or surrounding dashboard assembly is plainly visible each time the car is driven. If it does become a DIY project then it would be beneficial to have another Audi friend with you to lend support, suggestions and an extra set of hands.
Once installed the boost gauge fits quite nicely in the center vent, and shows the driver exactly when boost is elevated. It also can help detect issues with related to boost leaks. We saw maximum boost of 20 lbs on occasion during hard acceleration runs in 3rd gear. By comparison, stock boost on the B6 A4 1.8T usually maxes out at 10 lbs, so we are actually doubling the boost with this fX injector program.
The boost gauge plugs inline to the stock vacuum hose from the manifold. It is slick piece of work because when hooked up correctly the gauge will lights up when the headlights are turned on. Even with the recommended brass reducer installed, however, you will hear a slight buzzing eminating from the gauge itself.
The diverter valve was more of a preventive measure since many 1.8T owners have had diverter valve malfunctions. There are lots of diverter valve upgrade options available, but we chose the proven Bailey Motorsport valve since it had worked for us well in the past.
Short Shifter and Air Filter
The nice folks at Advanced Motorsport Solutions (AMS) helped us out with a few additions to the project car, namely their proven aluminum billet short shift kit for the B6 and a nice AFE panel air filter to help the car on the intake side.
Special kudos to the folks at AMS for a short shifter with very smooth transitions. Again a note to do it yourself installers: the short shift kit like all of them on the market has steps that can be tricky. If you are not mechanically inclined, leave this install for one of the tuner shops in your area. The Neuspeed and Stratmosphere shifters were considered but we had heard and read some nice things about the smooth action on the AMS product and wanted to experience it for ourselves. Interestingly what makes this shifter so good is not the fact that there is an obvious 25% reduction in the throws (although there is), but rather that it just has a great feel.
Our 1.8T is no S4, but we wanted to invest in the appropriate parts to give it additional grunt under the hood. The car now has the type of performance we would have wanted from the get-go. It would be great if Audi could offer affordable packages straight from the factory (or from the dealer network) that could add this type of power. It would keep many prospective Audi owners from straying towards options from other manufacturers in the highly competitive sport sedan market. While we have no qualms about tuning our A4 – and know that the aftermarket tuners depend on owners like us – we know that some prospective buyers would prefer to have it from the factory.
Next for the car we will upgrade the brakes, put a nice wheel and tire package on the car and try to settle on a nice set of track wheels and tires. Stay tuned.
Advanced Motorsport Solutions
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