Project S4: Introduction

Welcome to ROAD’s fast road project car… a 1998 B5 Audi S4 2.7 bi-turbo.

We bought it from Richard at www.jacksonandhow.co.uk, who offered a fabulous ‘personal touch’ to what was probably the nicest, most open car deal I’ve ever done (a lot!), over a very nice chat and a cracking espresso from Richard’s retro post-war uber-cafe-machine. Based at Colston Basset in the Vale of Belvoir, south of Nottingham, Jackson & How’s barn location provided the perfect starting point to test drive the S4 on some belting back roads (an old stomping ground of mine as it goes): It was a no brainer. Richard gave me a very fair price to part ex my Wagon. The S4 has only covered 48,500 miles in 11 years, with two careful owners and a full Audi SH, had just been serviced (inc. cam belts) and already had a Superchip stage one ECU remap, creating a very smooth, accessible, more economical (average 28 mpg, mid-30’s on a run) drive. The Quattro 4WD is very tractable and handling surprisingly flat and brakes solid, even before I get started on it… and it’s more grippy and faster than the old Road Impreza, no doubt; in all areas, despite being 300Kg heavier. Nice late ‘90’s specification too, with C-F trim, rear wing and a cassette player (so I got all my old DJ mix tapes out!)

I ain’t gunna go mad (famous last words). But I know the S4 shares many components with its RS4 bigger turbo/injector/ECU map brother (2.7 V6 30V bi-turbo, dual mass flywheel and clutch, Quattro etc.), so there’s easy tuning potential to be explored, for sure – budget depending!

First things first, insurance… and there was only one choice for my road car, Adrian Flux (www.adrianflux.co.uk), who have served me so well in the past, with first rate customer service, well trained, nice staff actually on the end of the phone, very competitive pricing and great extras. Another no brainer: Highly recommended.

All my cars get treated to the same initial treatment… get them up on the ramp at my spanner man of choice, Dave Green of Henstead Motorsport (www.henstead-motorsport.co.uk, or 01502-714177), in Beccles, Suffolk & dump all the fluids in favour of the fabulous range of www.millersoils.net. So in went Millers Triple Ester CFS 5w40 fully synthetic engine oil, while the Quattro gearbox and centre and rear diff oils were replaced with CRX 75w90, featuring ‘Nano technology,’ as found in BTCC cars, aiming to reduce wear rates by over 30%. And, as it’s a twin turbo and I want no detonation… I also ordered a case of CVL Turbo octane booster, specifically designed to resist ‘det’ under heavy loads… my right foot at the ‘Ring for example…

Negatives? Found out the nearside exhaust manifold is blowing… but that just eggs me on to replace the lot with RS4 turbo/injectors/fueling, and a bolt on 400+bhp, and have had to replace a lower front wishbone ball joint too – but it is 11-years-old. And the standard exhaust – which is a horribly complicated and heavy and rusty design from Audi – was hanging off at rear bracket. Never mind… I rang my good friends at super exhaust manufacturers, www.millteksport.com, who sent me their hugely popular, tried and tested, lighter, three-inch sports cat, stainless steel system, which has liberated the lovely V6 perfectly, fitted in conjunction a pair of lag-reducing, re-circulating blow off vales from www.forgemotorsport.co.uk. Turbocharger gas flow is much improved, exhaust back pressure massively reduced – improving low, mid-range and top end power and torque no end. And the noise is simply perfect – rorty five cylinder turbo howl when you want it, and nice and refined and burbly when just motoring along. Very nice!

I’ve also got a set of Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, which are absolutely brilliant. They have taken all the 11 years of wear out of the standard (nice, but a tad soft) suspension, and given flatter handling, with far greater body roll control, sharper turn-in and a huge hike in the S4’s ability to soak up bumps, crests and adverse cambers. They are fully adjustable too, so dampers can be set soft for road and harder for track, with the simple turn of a wheel on each strut, and ride height is easy to adjust on a ramp too, with a set of supplied C-spanners. I can’t wait to take the S4 to the Green Hell now, where it was tested prior to its original launch, and where I know the grunt, grip and all-weather-ability it has will be magnificent.

This Audi B5 S4 is arguably the nicest daily driver and one of the most entertaining road-track cars I have ever owned. It is Jack of all trades, and master if them all too. Happy motoring – especially four-wheel-drifting in the snow!

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