With beautiful body lines, a great looking interior, turbocharged engine, and great steering response, there's a lot to like about the B9 Audi A4 straight out of the box.
Aram Moss bought this car in May of 2017 after reading an article about how Audi was producing the last ever manual transmission Audis for the US market. He had always been a huge fan of the Audi A4, and even owned four of them prior to this car. He was actually getting ready to buy a different car at first, but then the 6-speed manual transmission A4 was announced. That's when he knew he had to bite the bullet and buy the manual A4, because it was the car he always wanted.
According to Aram, his manual transmission B9 A4 stands apart from other platforms because "if we’re talking out of the box stock, the car came with a very unique Quattro AWD system that’s able to disengage the rear axle completely and move all power to the front wheels for better efficiency. It’s not a HALDEX system, and so far it hasn’t shown any signs of weakness. It’s a technological marvel, even though the platform is now nearly 4 years old."
Even though he takes his A4 to the race track all the time, he admits he isn't planning to strip out the interior any time soon. He explains, "I’ve kept all the features/creature comforts intact for now because I think it would be tough for me to strip the luxurious, stylish interior just for weight savings. I wouldn't want to part ways with the creature comfort goodies that Audi is known for, since I also drive this car on the street."
We asked Aram if his A4 build was planned, or if he just bought the car and then started upgrading little things here and there gradually. He explained, "there was never a real plan to begin with, I knew I was going to keep the car for a long time and got it with the intention of the A4 being my only car. I definitely knew I’d lower it, put some aftermarket wheels on, and maybe do a couple cosmetic changes."
That's how it all starts with car enthusiasts. We all think we're going to keep it simple until we start spending more time with a car, then get bit by the bug. Aram explains, "I started tracking the car, so I fell in love with how it handled. The A4 just feels awesome when you're cornering, and I started buying little upgrades here and there for it... but it wasn’t until I came across a good deal on a second car that I lost my marbles and decided to go crazy with this A4."
Inside the cockpit, it's easy to see just why Aram would be hesitant to strip out the interior of the A4 just for weight savings. Audi interiors always look stylish, with great ergonomics, modern tech integration, and a style that's just beautiful to look at.
The factory seats are super comfortable, but sporty at the same time. The soft leather cladding on the side bolsters wrap around the driver so they feel planted and confident while cornering on mountain roads, but the power adjustable seats are also cushioned enough to let its occupant enjoy a long road trip down the highway.
The factory steering wheel has a thick, leather wrapped anatomical grip that feels great in your hands when you're driving. Audi made sure to address all the tactile surfaces of the car to make them feel high-end. Unfortunately, the horn pad with the Audi logo in the center is plastic, but the chrome ring and Audi emblem make it look upscale.
Aram says that he had his OEM Virtual Cockpit re-coded so that his dash cluster would have better contrast gauges. If you look close, you'll notice that the Audi RS4 logo appears on the tachometer as well.
Ah, the pièce de résistance. Any fan of the four rings will tell you that a normal Audi A4 is already a joy to drive because of its great handling and nimble form factor, but when there's a six-speed manual shifter in the center console, the feel of the car becomes even better.
Under the hood of this B9 MLB chassis lies the Audi CYMC 2.0 liter engine, which is boosted for improvements in acceleration and overall efficiency. Aram says his A4 still has the IHI OEM turbo installed for now, but his engine is "Stage 2" tuned to raise the redline to 7150rpm and produces 23psi of boost at peak.
Visible engine mods include a cold-air-intake from O34 Motorsport, but what you can't see from a brief glance under the hood is a set of OE NGK spark plugs from the Audi RS7, OE Ignition Coils from an RS3, a front mount intercooler, and charge pipes to keep cold air flowing to the engine.
Also visible, just behind the engine cover, is a front strut tower bar from 034 Motorsport.
The car's firewall has a silver heat shield to prevent the passenger compartment from feeling the engine heat, and if you look just past the firewall, a careful eye will notice the black metal pieces just above the transmission. This is the JHMotorsports solid transmission linkage and cross rod.
Owners of older Audis might notice that the OEM shifter doesn't always feel incredibly precise. Aram didn't want to consult Google maps just to find third gear when shifting from second. After all, if you've ever experienced shifting into fifth instead of third gear when racing someone, you know how damaging that can be to your ego. Since Aram isn't one to take chances, he knew he had to upgrade the shift linkage from the flexible plastic style that Audi provides from the factory. He knew he'd be keeping his A4 for a long time, and the factory plastic tends to dry up and become brittle as it ages. The JHM transmission linkage and cross rod replaces the OEM plastic sockets on the linkage and cross rod with two steel heim joint bearings and a graphite impregnated, polyurethane bushing for a more rigid, precise shifting feel.
If you peer into the space just to the left of the engine, you might notice the 034 Motorsport high flow catalytic converter, which expedites exhaust gases out to the AWE Track Edition non-resonated exhaust out back.
Since the AWE exhaust doesn't have super long tips, the tips actually sit inside the the exhaust ports of the carbon fiber rear diffuser Aram installed onto the car. This makes his exhaust pretty low-key from a visual standpoint, which is useful to those seeking to avoid getting attention from the local law enforcement.
While the exhaust might be super low key and subtle, the humongous APR GTC200 wing on the trunk lid certainly is not. While a big GT wing doesn't do a good job of making one's car blend in with normal civilian vehicles in traffic, the carbon fiber blade of the wing does provide extra downforce on the trunk lid when it's placed just behind the roof of the car.
The nice thing about a modular bolt-on wing is the fact that it can easily be removed from its base for street driving, and then bolted back up right before a track day. For those who tend to stare at details, Aram put subtle black 034 Motorsport stickers on the carbon fiber end plates to hint at the car's fancy footwork.
Aram's A4 sits lower than stock thanks to a set of H&R Coilovers, but he also installed all the 034Motorsport components he could get his hands on, including front and rear sway bars, spherical end links, strut tower brace, transmission mount upgrade & inserts, subframe & differential bushings, and 034's "track spec" adjustable upper control arms.
Inside the fender wells sit a set of 18x8.5 +38 offset BBS CH-R wheels, wrapped in sticky 245/40/18 Toyo R888R tires. He hasn't gotten around to buying a big brake kit yet, but for now, Aram installed a set of iSweep IS3000 pads and stainless steel brake lines to replace the factory rubber brake hoses.
An observant eye might notice the European spec OEM Audi genuine accessory optional tail lights, which come with an amber dynamic turn signal. Aram admitted, "I love the clear lens with dark housings, but for me, they were an absolute nightmare to install and program." Now that they are installed and working perfectly though, they are a nice touch of stylish subtlety.
Other exterior mods include carbon fiber front lower grille extensions, and an RS honeycomb grill.
Aram says this A4 has been one of the most reliable cars he's ever owned. Even with a very aggressive Stage 2 tune & all the supporting hardware, the car has been problem free for 36,000 miles and counting. He continues, "those miles have seen a ton of abuse on the race track. We still have some limitations on the platform given lack of availability for a high performance clutch. The OE clutch slips under certain conditions. That’s a problem I’m looking to solve before this summer."
At first, Aram only planned to buy an exhaust and an intake for the car... the he was bitten by the track bug.
"I got heavier and heavier into conversations with 034 Motorsport, and started slowly building up the car with actual usable & performance parts. It didn’t help that one of my clients at work became my go-to instructor on track days. It’s partially his fault this car’s so heavily modified," he explained. "When HPDE track events became a norm for me, it all went downhill from there."
Aram understands that in order to build a fast car, one must first build a fast driver, and the only way to do that is by more seat time at track days. "As a driver, I still have a really long way to go. My skills are mostly my limitation, therefore I’m always looking to become better, more patient, and more smooth on track. For someone at my skill level, I was dumbfounded to learn that I put down a lap time at Willow Springs Raceway's famous Big Willow course that was only 3-4 seconds behind the average Porsche 911."
Aram's A4 has also seen plenty of car shows, and it was also featured on The Smoking Tire on YouTube.
Aram says that even though he is very happy with his car, it is still a work in progress. The current enhancements it has work in harmony to make the car what it is, and he says that no single enhancement is responsible for anything extremely significant, aside from his 034 Motorsport Track Spec upper control arms. Being able to get a proper race alignment has worked wonders for the car on track, and Aram has plans for more suspension and power mods as he continues to develop his abilities as a driver. To us, that sounds like a good plan. Developing a driver's skill is usually more important for pulling solid lap times than modifying a car for performance, and when you have a car that's reliable and fun to drive like this A4, you have a winning combination on your hands.
Story and Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you enjoyed this Audi A4, you can find additional Audi-related content at audi.fcpeuro.com, as well as more build features like this one, here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS