It eats pavement. No, I swear (check the photo). Along a lonesome mountain byway high above Los Angeles we stopped to snap a few beauty pics of Neuspeed's tuned Audi A3. It was here, after our driver figured out how to trick the DSG transmission and related traction control into slipping the drive wheels, that it laid down one of the smokiest, most fearsome burnouts we've ever seen-and that's saying a lot. As the front end clawed for traction, the car's boosted 2.0T and Continental ContiSportContact 2 rubber proceeded to flay the pebbled skin from the pavement's surface and lay the smooth asphalt underneath bare to the elements. It was utterly amazing.
This scorching red A3 is Neuspeed's latest project, a product of the company's new tuning program for Audi's latest addition to its North American family. Typically, the treatments create an end product that's far more than the simple sum of the parts. It's a car that's as solid and reliable as any that came out of the factory, but one that's been improved over the stock offering in virtually every aspect of performance.
Possibly our favorite treatment is the quartet of lightweight forged wheels, Neuspeed's RS10s in a black satin finish. They weigh only about 19 pounds for the 8x19-inch application, and they're shod in the aforementioned Continental rubber sized 225/35-19 fore and aft. The wheels' open ten-spoke design and dark finish accentuate the new Brembo GT brake assemblies up front, which include classic red four-piston calipers and cross-drilled rotors. In the rear, the factory calipers were color-matched to the Brembos and now clamp on cross-drilled Neuspeed discs.
Behind the hubs, a complete Neuspeed suspension kit drops the chassis over this supreme rolling stock, comprising Neuspeed sport springs with Bilstein sport struts and shocks. Coupled with a 25mm adjustable tubular rear sway bar, the car has reportedly been set up for improved balance, and it retains a positive stance that inspires great confidence on winding roads. The ride is exceptionally well sorted, firm yet well dampened and fairly comfortable over even broken pavement.
In stock form, the 2.0T-equipped A3-a 250-bhp V6 version with all-wheel drive will be available this spring-has a goodly amount of power and a torque band that's been placed low in the range for impressive acceleration. Neuspeed tweaked the factory software to raise boost to a peak 1.4 bar (about 20 psi). This new code was implemented along with a Neuspeed P-Flo intake and a 70mm, 100% stainless turbo-back exhaust system with a high-flow catalytic converter. The pictured thermal shrouding along the intake tract is an option available to keep temperatures low as the intake charge travels from one side of the engine bay to the other. Additional equipment under the hood includes a Neuspeed Power Pulley kit and silicone intake hose kit.
Driving a stock 2.0T-equipped A3 reveals that the car is blessed with a surfeit of power direct from the factory. Probe the accelerator pedal to its depths and you'll spin the front wheels all the way through second gear. Considering this, Neuspeed's boosted version is downright ferocious. Your best bet is to gradually roll into the throttle in order to keep the front wheels within the realm of positive traction. The 2.0T's rich torque band is intact, albeit augmented at just about every point on the graph, so you've got plenty of grunt anywhere beyond 2000 rpm. This car is equipped with the DSG transmission, so keep your foot in it as you hit the paddles and you'll be rewarded with snappy, near-seamless gearshifts even with the significant bump in power-and you'll never be left reaching for the gear lever.
Aside from being the first fully tuned A3 on the street, Neuspeed's 2.0T is also arguably the best dressed. It's outfitted in full Caractère regalia, from the front bumper section featuring RS4-style gill slits, through the side skirts (little bit of 360 Modena down there), rear valance and roof wing.
Historically, we've always really liked Neuspeed's project cars. It's not that we own stock in the company or we like to blow smoke up your ass. Bottom line, their stuff works and it's consistently O.E. quality or better. Roundly improved cars like this A3 only serve to reinforce the company's reputation. The car looks good, carves like a scalpel and literally tears holes in asphalt. In sum, it does everything you'd ask your hot rod to do. And frankly, that's a lot more than a lot of aftermarket hot rods can actually deliver.
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
2.0-liter inline four, dohc, four valves per cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled Neuspeed software, P-Flo intake, Power Pulleys, turbo-back exhaust w/ high-flow cat, silicone intake hose kit
Neuspeed sport springs and 25mm sway bar (r), Bilstein struts and shocks
Brembo GT assemblies (f), Neuspeed cross-drilled rotors (r), braided stainless steel lines
Wheels and Tires
Neuspeed RS10, 8x19
Continental ContiSportContact 2, 225/35-19
Caractère grille, front bumper spoiler, side skirts, rear valance, roof wing
Peak Power: 271 bhp
Peak Torque: 320 lb-ft