We’ll admit it. We’re fans of the sleeper concept. Take an unsuspecting car that intimidates no one and upgrade the car’s performance in order to transform it into the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such is the plight of this rather ordinary looking A4 allroad.
If it weren’t for the spoiler lead-in, we’re betting you’re wondering why we’d throw such an everyday car into a feature story. Small wheels, no visible modifications, this particular allroad is about as far as one of these cars can get from the big-wheeled and bagged examples logging likes by the hundreds on Instagram…. and yet here we are.
Like it or not, station wagon fans in America are in a bit of a plight. While Europe gets cars like the RS 6 Avant, S4 Avant and RS 3 Sportback that all qualify as so-equipped “long roofs”, Americans make do with simply the A4 allroad… and solely with the 2.0 TFSI engine and 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. While a nice car, our lone offering is a bit vanilla as compared to its hotter European siblings.
Here’s where Opelika, Alabama-based APR comes into the picture. The car you see here, while outwardly nothing more than a grocery getter, is also a development mule for the Audi tuning firm. APR is best known for ECU tuning whereby they unleash the inner monster from an otherwise docile turbocharged engine.
Why develop on the allroad? APR tells us that all allroads feature Audi’s E85-prepped EA888 2.0 TFSI. The engine is most easily outwardly identified by its metal manifold. In a lot of ways, this motor is preferable because, at least when running E85 Ethanol, we’re told it’s “like running around with 104 octane all the time”. In other words, it gets very fast very quickly.
So what modifications does this allroad have? It is a surprisingly short list comprised of an upgraded K04 Turbo system that includes cast stainless exhaust manifold and turbine housing design just as the earlier B8 and B8.5 K04 kits from APR. This setup also featured a new APR downpipe design and software to make the most of these two components. That’s it. No H20i “Big Dog” trophies to be had here… all go, no show.
Before we go any further, we should make two points very clear. First, this is a development car. Though Stage 1 and Stage 2 software is now available, the configuration seen here including its components are not available to consumers for purchase… yet. We’re told they should be available in about a month. Next, this car was running E85 when we tested it, so what it had to offer was a bit more than we might have experienced had it been running standard issue 92 or 93 octane petrol.
Those who like the OEM plus philosophy will appreciate this kit. It’s based around the Borg Warner K04-64 turbo, a customized (for APR) proprietary version of the popular K04 turbo unit used in the TTS and S3.
Firing it up, there was no real noticeable difference from a stock allroad. We’ve had several months of logging break-in miles on our own Project B85 allroad back at home, so we were intimately familiar with how a stock equivalent behaves during our time with the APR development allroad.
Unlike some high-flow injector cars, there was no roughness on start-up or initial idle. Driving out of APR’s Alabama campus, the car felt just like any other allroad. Out on the roads and on our way to a low traffic windy stretch of tarmac, a little generous application of throttle hinted that there was something more there.
Five minutes later we entered into a more secluded stretch of road and brought the car to a stop. Shifting the transmission to sport, we launched… hard, and the allroad delivered. The flared Avant pushed us hard, on up into ticket or license suspension-worthy speeds with what seemed faster than the pace of a supercharged 3.0 TFSI-powered S4.
The comparison with the S4 is apt. APR notes four different operational programs for its K04 ECU tune (visible along with Stage 2 and stock numbers in the tables below). We tested the car with the E85, meaning about the same or more as the 363 hp and 387 lb-ft of torque seen below. That’s up 30 hp but up 52 lb-ft from the stock S4.
|Stock||91 Octane||93 Octane||100 Octane||E85|
K04 Early Figures (Not Finalized Numbers)
|Stock||91 Octane||93 Octane||100 Octane||E85|
Out in the curves, the car remains a stock allroad. It leans more than we’d wish, and those high sidewall tires don’t help. The nose bobs with the added torque. It remains, at least in the curves, a stock allroad. That’s okay though. There are remedies for handling should you choose to employ them.
To anyone into the Avant lifestyle, we’ve no doubt this car is highly interesting. While you can’t get an S4 in North America, maybe you don’t need to. This allroad felt every bit as fast if not faster than stock S4 models we’ve driven. Even better, it’s got less weight to push around in the nose and is likely more efficient.
As we’ve come to notice from APR, power delivery is smooth and factory-like. While more urgent with its doling of power, delivery assertive and yet deceiving just as it is on the S4. Further, with no intake or exhaust in this particular fitment, there’s no audible in-your-face reminder to people that you’re driving a modified car.
Visually and audibly then, there’s no doubt this is a quiet car. It takes the term sleeper more seriously than most anything we’ve driven in recent history, and yet it could serve to embarrass cars with much more sporting intentions from any given stoplight.