It's pouring down rain, visibility is at best 60 feet, standing water is all over the road, and I love it. One of my favorite drivers, Hans Stuck, is a master in the rain. I flashback almost 20 years to watching him tear up the competition in IMSA GTO racing at Watkins Glen in rain just like this. He was in an Audi 90 race car, one of the most advanced the world had seen at the time. Lacking its turbo five-cylinder and all-wheel drive, the bigger engine rear-drive cars couldn't even come close to matching Stuck and Haywood's pace. I am in a modern Audi, still Quattro all-wheel drive, but this one has a direct-injection turbo four-cylinder. This particular car was tuned by Stasis Engineering and although subtle, the changes make it feel almost as precise as those IMSA cars of the past.
Normally I'd prefer a stock vehicle on rain-soaked roads. Softer spring and damping rates make a car more forgiving in the wet. An unmodified engine is generally less likely to leave you walking, and all-season factory tires tend to cut through water rather than float like extra-wide, low-profile summer tires. This Audi is different.
Just a few days earlier at a Yokohama-sponsored tire gig, this car proved itself an excellent track weapon. On the long, fast pavement of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Stasis A4 was one of the journalist-driven test mules. It survived the grueling weeklong ordeal and simply asked for more. And while it's one thing to set up a car for the dry, it often does not translate to less-than-perfect conditions. The Stasis car did, with a suspension supple enough to handle the wet. Stasis, in fact, has managed to create a suspension package for this car that rides as well as stock while providing more than one g of lateral grip in the dry. Not only are the limits high, the car is amazingly neutral. Around the speedway's infield track it was possible to get the car to rotate on corner entry and four-wheel drift on power coming out of turns. This is something that's hard to do even in Audi's own high-spec RS4. The balance is phenomenal and markedly better than the RS4, a big part of this being the fact that it has a four-cylinder up front instead of a V8, but also due to the hours Stasis engineers spent running laps around their headquarters at Infineon Raceway.
A stock 2.0T with software, intake and exhaust is normally pretty good, but the uphill section at Infineon must have been just too much to deal with. The engineers needed more boost and the only way to get that is with a bigger turbo. Stasis is all about factory functionality and reliability, so don't expect a turbo as big as your head hanging off the hot side of this engine. Instead, you'll find a K04 handling compressor duties instead of the factory K03. The end user won't see an increase in lag, but will see huge gains everywhere in the powerband. Since the K04's total boost isn't that much greater, the factory 10.5:1 compression ratio remains intact, meaning you still have stock power off boost. A new cast exhaust manifold, higher-flow injectors, a relocated and redesigned diverter valve, and associated hardware round out the MTF big turbo kit. The results are 320 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers actually give this A4 a better power-to-weight ratio than an S4, and it still returns 30 mpg on the highway.
Audi used the K04 on the original 225hp TT and still uses it on the S3 as well. Every time I drive a K04-equipped car, I have to wonder why we can't get them standard on 2.0T-equipped VWs and Audis in North America. I'm not saying these cars need 300 hp, but buying a car with 240 hp from the dealership that can see 300-plus with just software tuning would definitely get the interest of more enthusiasts.
Development partner GIAC handles the software on Stasis cars. Even with the bigger turbo, throttle response is better than stock. Power is smooth and linear, similar to that of a normally aspirated engine. We're accustomed to rubbery catapulting response from big-turbo engines, a small push that builds suddenly as the turbo spools. This usually leads to adopting a driving style that prohibits throttle modulation on corner exit. With this car, an exit consists of unwinding the steering and feeding in throttle progressively. Pushed hard on the track, it's even possible to hit the apex, straighten the front wheels, and use the throttle to rotate the chassis. There's nothing quite like just kissing the curb on the inside of the turn, leveling the steering wheel dipping into the throttle just enough to keep the back end rotating and letting the car run all the way out to the exit.
All this happens thanks to an Ohlins suspension built to Stasis specs, as well as a new center differential. The factory Torsen differential can deliver up to 88 percent of power to the rear wheels during acceleration. The split gives the car different driving personalities. While in most cases it still feels very much like all-wheel drive, the front wheels are free to dedicate more grip to direction changes when needed. The sport differential is one of those parts that you really can't appreciate on paper. It has to be felt to be believed.
Parts that are easier to appreciate for the average viewer are the 19-inch forged Monolite wheels. They weigh a mere 19 pounds and along with the Yokohama performance tires have been shown to shave as much as half a second from lap times by themselves. Inside those front wheels are four-piston Alcon monoblock brake pistons and two-piece 370mm rotors. The brakes really proved their worth on the track. After a day of abuse not only did they not show any fade, but they drove all the way home without a single squeal.
Stasis takes a holistic view of tuning. Everything is meant to work together. The brake bias is set to work with the suspension. The differential is best utilized with the engine mods. You can get the parts independently, but your best bet is to buy the car complete, right off the showroom floor. Currently there are more than 25 dealers across North America that will sell you a complete Stasis car. Stasis provides an extra warranty package for the components, while Audi will still cover components not affected by the modifications. As much as I love modifying cars, this is definitely the best reason ever to drive a vehicle as it came off the showroom floor.
2008 Stasis Challenge Edition A4
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
2.0-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve, K04 turbocharger, large injectors, relocated diverter valve, cat-back exhaust
Six-speed manual, modified Torsen center differential
Ohlins threaded-body coilovers , two-position 22mm rear anti-roll bar
Alcon four-piston calipers, 370mm two-piece rotors (f)
*Wheels and Tires
Forged Monolite, 9x19Yokohama Advan AD08, 235/35
Peak Power: 320 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 3100 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.
Lateral Acceleration: 1.02 g
*Stasis Engineering data