Audi A4 2.0T
Audi left the 2010 Detroit Auto Show with three very different awards. One was the "Most Improved Loyalty to Make," which all sounds wonderfully worthy and the sort of thing that Subaru might snag. The second was the EyesOn Design award for the 2011 A8, the new car for architects to get excited about. And the third was a "Best in Show" for the e-Tron concept (if that's the future, it looks promising). A company that covers such disparate bases and all points in between is a rarity; it melds substance with a high cool factor.

A combination echoed and emphasized in Air & Water Enterprises' (AWE Tuning) 2006 A4 2.0T Quattro S line. It's also an illustration of how the first leads to the second. There's so much substance lurking behind that RS4 grille it's unreal.

The VW/Audi 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo doesn't have to do any more to prove itself as one the great European engines, but here, according to AWE, it gamely delivers 377 hp at 6500 rpm and 317 lb-ft at 5475 rpm (running 93-octane gas and measured at the crank), thanks to an upgraded forced induction system (AWE states that the engine has the potential for 500 hp, providing its internals were uprated. The company has capped output for this one so as not to over-stress its stock parts).

The principal player is a Garrett GT28-71R turbocharger, an item that kicked off hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in the R&D department. Says Todd Sager, president of AWE: "The real magic of this car is its turbo kit." With this larger charger, the engine becomes a hungry beast that needs a lot of feeding, so a high-pressure, high-flow fuel pump is needed. "Coming up with a 130-bar fuel pump is a whole new ball game," says Sager. The company has created its own profoundly engineered solution with a pump whose tolerances are measured in microns. And not many of those, either.

"With this kit, we also have a revised electronic module for the low pressure 'feeder' electric pump that sits in the fuel tank," says Sager. "Without this module, the low-pressure pump could not keep up with the increased demand from our high- pressure pump. No other kit has this solution. Without it, stable full-throttle power is seriously limited."

There's a similar dedication to detail in the diverter valve, which operates when the throttle body is closing or closed. The factory unit, like the OEM fuel pump, has a tendency to wimp out. "VW/Audi has gone through multiple revisions trying to solve the stock DV's reliability issue," says Sager. AWE found something better in Porsche's turbo system, so the Philly-based company took that and adapted it for this application. Now it can work in 2.0T engines kicking out three times the stock power with no issues whatsoever.

Suck, bang and blow are all synchronized by GIAC software and switching (with Pump Fuel, Valet and Ignition Kill modes), while an AWE all-aluminum front-mount intercooler drops the temperature of inhaled air by up to 27 degrees F. This thing is not small, but it runs with 50 percent less restriction than its factory counterpart and includes a power steering cooler assembly too.

On the exhaust side of the process is an in-house catback system fashioned from 2.5-inch T304 stainless steel which AWE claims can contribute 12 hp and 8 lb-ft to the final output tally. It incorporates a 200-cell high-flow catalytic converter made in Germany by HJS. And before we close the hood, we should note the Nomex-reinforced silicone hoses.

For a thoroughly bodacious B7, better buy some Bilsteins. The coilovers here are of the PSS9 variety, meaning nine-way adjustable compression and rebound, from tranquil all the way to track. Since this is AWE's demonstrator car, a rolling catalog of sorts, it does duty on the street and the circuit; because the suspension settings can be changed while in place, it's kept on full soft for the former and full stiff for the latter. Notice also the somewhat lowered ride height.

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