If you were to sequence Adam Ligon's DNA, you'd probably find the letters VAG interspersed amongst the Xs and Ys. And while he's not exactly old skool when compared to guys who were tuning Mk1 GTIs in the mid-'70s, having owned 20-plus VAG cars over the past 22 years, it makes you suspect he's genetically encoded to buy VWs and Audis.
Being the co-owner of VW/Audi specialist Black Forest Industries in Cary, NC, gives Adam an excuse for his addiction, but the buying started before Black Forest Industries was in business. In fact, he currently owns seven VWs to the one Audi A5 featured here. Admittedly, he loves coupes and when he saw the first photos of the A5, had already bought one in his mind.
With the exception of the R8 sports car, Ligon thinks the A5 is the best-looking Audi ever made. Coincidentally, the man who conceived it, Walter da Silva, also says it's the most beautiful car he's ever designed...
Adam knew he'd be changing things on the A5 before it was bought because the car would serve as a test platform for upgrades that Black Forest Industries (BFI) intended to develop or distribute. He also knew he'd wait for the 2.0-liter TFSI instead of the earlier V6 because the four-banger both weighed less and had more tuning options.
Prior to its current state, the car ran on 20" BBS CH-R wheels - a can't-go-wrong choice, but too off-the-shelf to set it apart from other A5s. So by mounting a set of matte black, 20" Maserati Gran Turismo "Birdcage" wheels, the car gained instant internet viral notoriety.
The angular lines of the wheels, with their concave and convex shapes, juxtapose the A5's fluid lines perfectly. But getting Maserati wheels to fit the Audi wasn't a straightforward bolt-on process.
The lug pattern of the A5, for example, is 5x112mm with a 66.6mm center bore. However the Maserati wheel is a 5x114.3mm with a 67.1mm center bore. So Adam started with a 14mm stud conversion in the hubs - the studs having bigger 0.5" threads.
He then went to work enlarging the center bore as well as the lug seats. The latter were machined both wider and closer to the hub in order to accept Flextfit nuts. The Flexfit nuts apparently allow a 2.5mm difference in bolt pattern while still retaining a tight grip on the wheel and hub.
With that problem solved, a set of 265/30 R20 Continental DWS tires were stretched over the 20x10.5" wheels. They could then be mounted on the car using 5mm BFI front spacers and 15mm rears to get the right offset.
The stance was then dialed in with Suspension Techniques/Weitec coilovers that dropped the car to the desired height. However, this led to some clearance issues. As a result, the front fenders were rolled so that during our drive, we didn't detect any rubbing at all.
It may have taken a lot of work to achieve the desired stance of these very rare wheels but you have to agree it gives the A5 a unique look.
Ligon prefers his cars to look OEM+ rather than given them a complete makeover, so he kept it subtle. Additions include a badgeless JOM RS5 grille with his original four-ringed logo. The side skirt/blades come from the S5 but were mounted upside down so only otaku-level VAG insiders could spot the difference.
The rear is distinguished by its RavenRacing RS5-style spoiler, which also continues the OEM+ theme, with black Audi rings making another appearance.
With the right stance and visual details, Ligon changed his focus. As a former autocross junkie and unrepentant hard driver, the stock power wasn't going to cut it. So he first went for a stage 2 APR software upgrade. After he got used to that, he went all-in with the APR K04 turbo upgrade kit, which included the bigger turbo and manifold, new software plus all the hardware.
For cooler intake air, Adam installed a Pwrhaus front-mount intercooler. New brackets were then fabricated to fit a K&N intake system that was originally designed for the A4. And to cap it off, a carbon fiber EuroGear engine cover sits on top.
The exhaust consists of BFI's own 3" tubing that starts from the turbo-back and splits into dual 2.5" pipes to exit through a '09 A5 3.2 valance - the only year when dual outlets were offered.
Upon starting the engine, there's a raw, unfiltered quality that comes into the cabin. Off the line, it's slightly hesitant as a result of having to rotate big 20" wheels. It could also be caused by less back pressure from the exhaust system but the trade-off is soon forgotten because the K04 responds with immediate punch after 2500rpm or so. Unlike the stock turbo, it doesn't run out of breath on its way to redline.
Mid-range power is always available, giving good exit speed out of corners, and lots of grunt on open stretches of Interstate. In fact, the engine propels the A5 into triple-digit speeds with ease. APR claims its K04 kit is good for 330hp and 339 lb-ft but BFI's exhaust should have extracted a bit more...
The front brakes are 13.6" S4 discs with the stock A5 calipers, while the rears are 13" S5 discs and calipers with Brembo pads at each corner. We felt the pedal could've been firmer and the pads didn't bite until later in the pedal stroke, but the stopping power was undeniable.
In addition to the ST/Weitec coilovers, the car was equipped with BFI's 29mm front and 25mm rear Stabila sway bars plus SPC adjustable front upper control arms. As you'd expect from a quattro with that sort of equipment, it devours corners with uncanny ease and stability, almost daring you to take the next corner faster.
At the limit, the car will understeer slightly to let you know you're approaching the end of the fun, but it's corrected by a slight lift or more steering input. Body roll isn't an issue, and the ride was surprisingly compliant considering the ride height.
When you look at the numbers, Ligon's A5 is a near clone of the current S5 (330hp vs 333hp, 339 lb-ft vs 325 lb-ft) yet it has a considerable weight advantage (3591 lb vs 3924 lb). So it makes you wonder why Audi didn't build the S5 with the 2.0T. It could be argued that premium buyers would want the earlier V8 or current supercharged V6, even though they're heavier up front and more prone to understeer. Ligon didn't stop to ask that question, he just built his own S5 2.0T and is loving every minute of it.
2011 Audi A5 2.0T quattro
Layout two-door coupe, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI DOHC 16v with APR K04 turbo kit and software, Pwrhaus front-mount intercooler, BFI-modified K&N Intake, BFI 3" turbo-back exhaust with dual 2.5" rear section, BFI CleanCatch catch can kit, Eurogear carbon fiber engine cover
Brakes S4 13.6" rotors f, S5 13" rotors and calipers r, Brembo ceramic pads f&r
Suspension ST/Weitec coilovers, BFI Stabila 29mm f, 25mm r sway bars, SPC adjustable front upper control arms
Wheels & Tires 20x10.5" Maserati Gran Turismo wheels, custom machined, 14mm stud conversion, Flextfit nuts, BFI spacers 5mm f, 15mm r, 265/30 R20 Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires
Exterior JOM Badgeless grille, S5 side skirt/blades, RavenRacing rear spoiler, '09 A5 3.2L rear valance, yellow foglights, window tint
Interior AWE Tuning vent boost gauge
Contact Black Forest Industries (blackforestindustries.com)