STAGE III – PLANNING
Audi S4 Stage III or Mitsubishi Evolution VIII
The motivation for comparing these two options arose from my ongoing desire to improve this hi-performance vehicle (Audi S4). Since early on I had considered the possibility of the Stage III upgrade for the S4, which consists primarily of the European RS4’s larger K04 Turbochargers. For a number of years I had held off due to the significant financial outlay required for this kit. Ultimately though, all upgrading paths eventually lead to some form of upgrade to the K04 turbochargers.
Along the way I began to consider alternative vehicles because of a realization that the S4 simply was not built from the ground up to be an all-out performance vehicle. It is a wonderful compromise of various appealing characteristics, but that in itself prevents the car from being an all-out performance star. Even when I began looking at more performance oriented vehicles it was still necessary to make some compromises.
The Mitsubishi Evolution VIII captures quite well the qualities I was looking for at a reasonable price. I hemmed and hawed, went back and fourth between Stage III S4 and EVO VIII for months. After doing some driving events I was desiring a more nimble vehicle, but at the same time telling myself that I wasn’t a skilled enough driver to get everything out of my S4, so there wasn’t much point in replacing it with an even more capable vehicle. There wasn’t much to having a highly capable car with a low capability driver. This only deterred me from contemplating the EVO for a short while before I was back convincing myself that it was the car for me. It was at this stage that I came across some information about the EVO that put the decision to rest. The EVO does not have side impact airbags or side curtain airbags. Beyond my desire for a high performance car, I insist on high safety. One of the reasons I bought the S4 was for its exceptional safety features, and so I decided that Stage III was the way to go.
Having concluded that Stage III was in my future the question then became when. With the Christmas holiday approaching a number of Audi Tuners began offering holiday discounts. The opportunity to acquire the necessary parts at a price reduction was very tempting. Choosing a Stage III kit is not a simple process, tuners such as AWE, APR, AMS, MTM, Sportec, and O. CT all offer upgrade paths, in addition to the homemade kits that were showing promise. I had contemplated a homemade kit, but the prospect of ‘tweaking’ did not thrill me. It is rare to hear about the person who buys thousands of dollars worth of parts and tries to piece them together and tweak them into a smoothly running automobile and fails miserably. Having contacted some tuners I learned that these cases do occur, and was advised against going this route if I did not have the tools, knowledge, and time to spend getting the parts to work together. Since often there isn’t much difference between ‘tweaking’ and troubleshooting, I decided to go with a proven kit and save myself some potential headaches.
Sportec was an option, but their location and the logistics involved made them a non-contender. AMS seemed to charge a premium for what you got, and MTM seems to operate in their own price world well beyond where everyone else is. This left APR and AWE as my two contenders. AWE had the better price, but on the surface didn’t seem to be providing much in the way of parts for the price you paid. I’ve owned an APR chip since shortly after purchasing my S4, and they have provided a Stage III kit for a while now. I also like their philosophy of creating reliable products over envelope pushing performance; I was going to be using the car as a daily driver. Once again the Holiday pricing played a role as AWE increased the price of their kit, only to reduce it through the holiday sale, back to about where it was originally. APR also knocked a few dollars off their kit, and that in addition to the hardware I could see I was buying for my money, convinced me to go with their kit.
Commitment to the Stage III kit also brings along some other requirements. I felt the RS4 clutch was a minimum requirement, and while I considered the AWE Stage II clutch kit, I’d never found the stock clutch to be lacking with my Stage II+ car, so I felt the number of Stage III owners with the RS4 clutch who had not experienced any problems with the clutch were a good representation of the type of driving I would be doing. The RS4 clutch was also the most cost effective, and being an Audi part was also an appealing attribute.
While not immediately necessary, upgrading the Intercoolers was also something I wanted to do. See this write up to learn how I decided upon the AWE IC’s.
A couple of additional parts were in order. RS4 motor mounts would provide a sturdier support to the Stage III kit than offered by the stock mounts. The Induktion oil line for the passenger side turbo was another added item. An APR bipipe was ordered to replace the stock TBB, and I also acquired some Samco intercooler hoses.
With all of the parts assembled my next decision was who to trust with this major job. A job of this magnitude, I was also having some preventative maintenance done, would be a significant investment of labor, and I wanted to be sure it was being handled by a shop that knew these cars and also the aftermarket kits. This decision was influenced by my location and shop reputation from other Audi owners. I was fortunate to be located nearby Baltimore when I chose to have this work done, and thus Induktion Motorsports was the logical choice of location to take the car.
NEXT PHASE: Implementation