Sunday, July 5, 2015

Test Drive - Audi A4 Avant 2.0TSFI s-tronic B8 chassis (on a REVO Stage 1 remap)

I've now covered around 5000km on the A4 Avant 2.0TSFI s-tronic.
With over 130.000 km on the clock, I must say that it's a brilliantly built machine. No noises, no major issues apart from the standard maintenance program.

This unit is a very curious one... you see, the major problem with the world is the politicians... well if you think of it, it is actually people that elect them, but still, they create stupid laws to steal money from you. One of those laws exists in some countries where you pay a tax for the BHP you car has! Some other countries make you pay for the displacement your engine has... and some a bit more evolved make you pay for the impact on the environment... but then do not use the money from the tax to counter that impact... utterly ridiculous.
Spain in one on those countries that think that BHP is bad for the environment... so if you have an good old oil-burner 2.0 that paints your city black with smoke but only has 60bhp, you are a good civilized citizen!
Still the fact that politicians are stupid doesn't mean that the people at AUDI are...thank goodness.
So they build the 2.0TSFI engine for 210bhp...as they do for every other country... and then when legalizing in Spain, they just detune the ECU to 180BHP and happy day you can buy your car cheaper.

So why oh why was this soo cool? Well the owner of the car felt the drive-train was better than the engine, and as such he chose to buy a REVO stage1 remap.
Now this remap gives the standard 210bhp an healthy 40bhp plus... but since the REVO code doesn't recognize the Spanish law, it thinks the ECU is actually the standard 210Bhp ECU on a different version... and it is absolutely right...and so re writes everything, unlocking the 40Bhp promissed + the constrained 30Bhp... what a blast. A 2.0 4 pot that unleashes 70bhp from a stage one, off the shelve remap.

And so the test begins.

The engine: No surprises here... it is quick! it revs happy, the factory turbo is more that up to the job and the new found power makes the standard wheels and tires scream at every standing still pull... new rims and rubber underway, no worries.
It was a perfectly decent engine... sure not an efficiency benchmark but a very decent and  livable engine. Now it is much more responsive, the surge of power is more round and sustained showing the FWD limitations essentially on the standing still pulls... don't get me wrong.. .it is FWD and turbo, so if you floor-it mid corner you will have under-steer (or ESP kick-in)...but the new found linear response of the engine, allows you to pull gently out of the corner IF you dose the throttle.

The Gearbox: wow ... I hate automatic gearboxes... I find he torque-converter something as stupid as hybrid cars are... I mean it's an element that enables you to convert torque from the engine to the weeels by passing oil though a closed doughnut with some fan-blades.... clever as it is, the fact is that the fluid is not a solid mechanical link as as such drains torque.
The S-tronic on the other hand is the evolution of the well known DSG. If fact you have 2 different sets of gears, the pair ones and the impair ones... each set on it's own shaft. The S-tronic has them both in sync and ready to engage as you decide to shift and then operates 2 different sets of, multi-disk clutch... one engages the pair gears and one for the impair shaft.
The result? a truly quick, no fuss, mechanical link shift. There is more... the S-tronic has 7 forward gears for you to use.
The manual control (in sports mode) is quick and obviously computer monitored so you don't over-rev nor under-rev the engine. Coupled with this engine it makes the car seem a lot lighter that it actually is.
So I really don't like automatic transmissions, but I do consider this do be a piece of engineering.... especially after opening one and seeing how it is made.

The Chassis: It's an Audi... it is very composed and with good grip levels (particularly after fitting bigger rims and tires). The grips is good enough to make you think it's lighter that it actually is, but it is not as involving as...say... the megane3 break chassis.
The one problem with this car... as any other AUDI is the let-go... UNDER-steer. It's like this by design as the every day banker that buys them really doesn't know how to drive and in an extreme situation, will get scared and break... so all AUDI's except the R8 are tuned to under-steer on the limit.
This however is the exact opposite behavior you really want on a curve as what you need is the chassis to help resolve the curve by biting in with the front axle and letting go the rear to roll the car into the corner.
This could obviously be solved with a handbreak strike but no... noooo! the hand break on this is electrical.... how stupid of you audi.. this was the one thing that could solve the chassis stupid fine-tuning and you manage to eliminate it!.

Conclusions: 
It is good... it is built for the highway and if you revo-it it will be a lot nicer... but if you really are looking for a chassis that corners with you, instead of against you...(and don't mind the ugly looks and bad plastics) buy the megane and save a tone of money.... oh now wait.. no decent petrol meganes except for the RS. Better think about a Skoda RS then :)