for the interest of those on the list, i was contacted by my audi dealer yesterday who asked me to drop in as he had a "surprise for me".
when i turned up, he threw me the keys for an a4 and asked me to take it for a 30 minute test drive and tell him what i thought. he wouldn't tell me anything about the car, he just wanted my impressions.
the car was a quattro 1.8 turbo 5 valve with climate, and manual 5 speed. it had twin airbags and the sports steering wheel. it had 3,000km on the clock.
well, for those of you who have seen the a4 and driven it, it will come as no surprise to you that the a4 is a usefule upgrade to the 80/90 in interior fittings and cabin dynamics. not a major improvement from my s2, with the familiar things such as rock-solid fittings, good ergonomics, seating etc there in the new model. improvements are :-
1) a lower scuttle allowing an airier feel to the cabin, although the 'a' pillars are thicker.
2) significantly better front view with the bonnet line much lower than the 80/90/coupe, due to the deletion of the i-5 engine option. in the a4 you cannot see the extremeties of the car such is the slope of the bonnet line. likewise, your distance from the front wheels also seems to be less.
3) cabin space seems to be slightly less than the old model, with very similiar fabrics used.
4) instrument ergonomics are slightly better, and the instrument "beltline" is lower.
5) some of the plastics were a pale grey would would very quickly become marked.
6) interior noise was pleasantly low, but loud enough for a car with a more sporting orientation.
7) the climate a/c worked well in the summer heat with much less noise than in my s2.
the car was a rocket ship. the low-down power was less than i'm used to in the s2, and you had to consiously build revs before sliping the clutch, but once the 1.8 hit 3,000rpm, the exhaust note changed to a very pleasant alfa-like rasp and the car took off. much *better* top end than the s2 (230hp @5,500 rpm)!!! the car would pull through 7,000rpm with a rev cut-off at 7,500rpm !
anyone who has driven an s2/s4 becomes used to the slug of low-down torque with the turbo i-5 20valve, but with the 1.8 turbo, you very quickly found yourself in a lower gear, reving at 4,000 just to enjoy the engine note and the instant engine response in the gear. (one of the biggest disapointments with the s2 over my old ur-q was the muffled engine note).
the first corner i went round, i found myself having to continually correct my line as the turn-in was *much* sharper than what i'm used to in the s2. road-holding would be somewhat less due to the tyres the a4 was running (versus the 225/50's on the s2), but the car was much more responsive to steering input and less nose-heavy. it is a car where you would find yourself looking for corners...
the gearbox was a pleasannt surprise. the shift was quicker with less of the infamous quattro "inertia" of the old models, much more like a fwd.
brakes were great. i executed 4 or 5 "panic" stops from 140kph on the morotway with no sign of brake fade, nor dint of brake smoke.
i took the car back, after having a look under the hood. the wastegate looked very similar to that on my s2, and there was a carbon fibre airbox. i told the dealer, "you've taken the s2 trubo and put it on the 1.8t haven't you?"
the dealer then told me that the car was an "mtm" audi a4 1.8t. it has a re-mapped ems, a humoungous stainless exhaust system with 2x 3" rear pipes (very sexy looking), and a larger airbox. no changes to the turbo, or inlet side of the engine. it came with full factory warranty etc.
the dealer had had the machine dyno'ed and found it putting out 286hp ! it certainly felt like that on the road.
the a4 had gone straight from the audi factory to mtm for the modifications and then to new zealand. it would go on the lot 2nd-hand for $nz 90,000 or there abouts ($53k usd).
interestingly the dealer told me that the arrival of these sorts of cars would limit the appeal of cars such as the rs2/rs4. i would tend to agree, but will hold off until i've driven the rs4. however, i still feel that the arrival of cosher audi-sports models will be an excellent thing for the marque, and should make a reasonable investment.
there was a beautiful black rs2 on the lot for $nz155,000, ($95k usd), although the dealer said he'd move it for $140,000. interesting that, i'm pleased i resisted the temptation for one 8 months ago.
the dealer told me that the rs4 will be rated at 350hp which was more that i'd understood. he said audi wanted a machine with more hp than the new m3. can't wait to get my hands on one.
from the perspective of this potential rs4 purchaser, the arrival of excellent cars such as the mtm a4 can only be good news as it will drive *down* the sticker price of the motosports models. if the new price of the mtm a4 is (as suggested) $115,000, then the rs4 won't be the $175,000 that the rs2 was in nz new.
walter rohl will be out in nz during july to conduct quattro performance driving courses, which the dealer has enrolled me on. these will be free to "selected customers". the thought of being driven around the local race track by walter (balls as big as grapefruit) rohl himself will be an absolute highlight.
the dealer is faxing the factory for shipping and configuration/pricing details of the rs4. i'll let the list know what the factory tells him.
thats all folks!