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A4s and the Quattro List

I've been a subscriber to the Quattro list since shortly after getting a
96 A4Q.  The car, my fifth, favorite, and first new Audi, has just come
off lease.  I bought it, since the residual was $2000 to $3000 less than
it 's worth, and I'm trying to decide whether to keep it, lease a new
one, or find a replacement such as the new Passat.   If I lease another,
it would most likely be the 1.8t.  The cons to keeping the Audi are the
sorta slow and hard to modify 12 valve six, and the fact that I will
have to start paying for my own maintenance in six months or 6000 miles
(That free maintenance stuff is addictive! ).  On the other hand, a new
one would be somewhat anticlimatic (if I got a new black one, no one
would know!).  So what has this to do with the list?   

I'm wondering about your experiences in modifying the A4.  I find the
power mostly adequate; but would like to tighten the suspension,
(without ruining the ride), and tighten up the gearshift.  I see several
suspension kits in European Car to meet the first goal, and I am
wondering if listers have experience with them.   My steepo driveway
prohibits lowering the car much, but I would be interested in a firmer
ride and more connected feeling.  Tires are another obvious factor, and
it's getting on toward time to replace the stock Goodyears.  Any good
experiences with perfomance replacement rubber?  On the gearshift
question, is there a shift kit for the A4?   Shorter throws would be
nice, and there is play in the drivetrain that may be necessary to make
the car smooth, but I would like to tighten it up, if that is possible.
Of course, one of my problems is that I often crawl out of our Miata
into the Audi, which tends to make the Audi seem larger, looser, less
connected, and sloppier shifting than it is.  But, on the other hand,
what I'm looking for is to make the A4Q handle and shift a little more
like my Miata.  

Any experiences or opinions will be appreciated.  Thanks.

bob martindale, greensboro, north carolina
96 A4Q Black w Ecru Leather,  96 Miata 
former Audis:  88 5000T,  86 5000 Avant,  81 5000S,  79 5000S