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4T : Project B85 allroad

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28 September 2015


While we love our Audi allroad and its Avant body style, we recognize that it’s not the most sporting offering ever to roll out of Ingolstadt. Yes, we lust for cars such as the RS 4 and RS 6, but as the only Avant sold in the USA, the allroad packaging and equipment were our only choice if we wanted a so-called “longroof” with four rings on the grille. In as much, we certainly saw room for improvement on the inside of our Project B85 allroad.

Even from the U.S. configurator, we’d have probably done a few things differently had we ordered our allroad new. Some owners spec in more sporting aluminum trim or must-have sport interior option with bigger bolster seats roughly equivalent to S4 models, as well as a three-spoke sport steering wheel. Sourcing our particular allroad via the used market, we ended up with a car that had neither of these, though it did have everything else we were seeking and and all at a sharp price. While seats may have to wait for another day, the relative ease of fitting a sport steering wheel and trim more dynamic than our old man burled wood had us itching to get started on the car’s cockpit.steering-wheel

Sport Steering Wheel
First up was the steering wheel. Our four-spoke wheel is the least sporting in the B8.5 partsbin. To improve upon that, we sourced a grey stitched S4 flat bottom sport wheel that is both better looking, more contoured and smaller diameter. Given our allroad isn’t an S4, we also swapped an S line badge into the lower spoke. Also, the shift to this particular steering wheel required a change to a new round design airbag.

Unlike allroads with the Sport interior option, our car’s 4-spoke steering wheel didn’t come with shift paddles to control the transmission. Our new S4 steering wheel did come with aluminum finish shift paddles that, once installed, were also back-lit. Paddle functionality didn’t simply turn on though and for that we had to hook up a VAG-com and activate the functionality. Effectively, you have to alert the car’s systems that you have a steering wheel with “Tiptronic” function and that activates the transmission functionality.

Parts:

trim

Carbon Fiber Trim
One of our favorite elements of an Audi interior is carbon fiber trim. Alas, it’s only ever available in S-car and RS-car offerings, which means you couldn’t get an allroad from the factory with carbon fiber even if you wanted one. Fortunately, it is not very hard to retrofit.

Even when it comes to carbon fiber, they’re not always the same. We’ve seen at least three different styles for B8.5 fitment alone, including S4 weave, wider RS 4 weave and blue flecked weave for the European market RS 4 Nogaro selection edition. Look around the Audi lineup and you’ll see even more versions such as red-flecked carbon fiber in the Audi S7 exclusive interior and copper flecked carbon for the S8. We decided to keep it simple and go for the monochromatic narrow weave S4 fitment. While we could have considered custom aftermarket made pieces, we wanted to retain the factory look with aluminum accent framing.

Trim in the B8 sedan and Avant includes six pieces – each door (4 pieces), center console and also the piece in the dashboard above the glovebox. With the exception of the center console piece, each is relatively easy to install, held in by clips and removed with just a bit of effort using trim tools available at most neighborhood auto parts store.

Parts:

mmi

Upgraded Center Console – Carbon, Aluminum look and Red Trim Start/Stop
Knowing components from the center console would require removal to install the remaining piece of carbon fiber trim, we decided to add in several more upgrades to this area as well. For this we pulled from the partsbin of both the RS 4 and S4.

First up was a set of aluminum look MMI buttons. Though functionally no different than the MMI controls in our allroad, the RS 4 gets some polished aluminum finish buttons that have a much richer look. That they also match the finish on other elements of our dashboard including our new flat bottom steering wheel shifter paddles only added to the allure.

Another upgrade within the MMI panel itself is an Engine Start/Stop button from the S4. Unlike the allroad and the RS 4 Avant, S-cars get a starter button with outer band of what appears to be anodized red finish. We’d spotted the upgrade in TAG Motorsport’s RS 5 at SEMA last year and loved the look. With these components coming out anyway, it made for an easy swap that results in an improved visual difference.

We must admit that for this install, we handed the allroad over to our Audi dealer. This is one reason we clustered all of these upgrades together.

Parts:

piano-black

Piano Black Dashboard Panel
One element we’d spotted in the RS 4 and RS 5 models, and also more recently in Audi’s S line competition plus models, is a piano black dashboard panel. This piece directly replaces the panel that stretches around both the instrument cluster and the MMI screen. Stock fitment of this piece in all other B8.5 models is a muted silver/grey that, when replaced with the high gloss Piano Black look, takes on a much richer appearance. It also matches the high gloss black panel on the center console and partially on the MMI controls, for a more integrated and cohesive look.

This piece is also held in by clips, though the contour of the dashboard makes it a little more difficult to remove than the other interior trim. Use care in removing as pieces can be lost or broken.

Our panel came with a replacement left vent, which was good because we broke the left vent of the unit we were taking out during the removal process. Once ejected from the dash, you’ll need to unplug both the left vent lighting cable and the hazard light button to the right of the MMI display.

The cable to the vent disappears down into the dashboard, which required us to remove the lower portion of the dash to access the cable connector. Fortunately, this was part of the pedal installation process (see below) so we were already familiar with the steps.

The hazard light button will be re-used in the new panel and is easy to remove once this piece is out of the car. During this process, also take care not to scratch the leather of your steering wheel.

With every cable re-connected and everything lined up, this piece pops back into the dash via the built-in clips in it and in the left hand vent.

Parts:

pedals

Aluminum Pedal Set
Last in this first major round of interior improvements is an aluminum pedal set. Cars like Audi’s RS-car and S-car range, in addition to TT and R8 models, come with aluminum pedal and dead pedal sets. As with so many things, the allroad isn’t quite as sporting from the factory. Owners have several options here though and in our case we went with a set available through Audi Accessories.

Our pedal set came with detailed instructions for the entire installation process. The brake pedal is relatively easy, removing the plastic cover and slipping on the new metal cover. The gas pedal is even easier by slipping on the metal cover with no removed portion. The dead pedal is decidedly more work.

Refer to that manual for the install, but basically you’ll need to remove the driver’s side sill trim (all clips), the vertical trim to the front of that (clips), the fuse panel cover (clips), the driver’s side panel below the hood release and also the hood release (tricky, refer to instructions provided) and also the lower dash (clips and bolts).

For this process we needed trim pry tools, a socket set, torx screwdriver and about an hour’s worth of time with no previous experience pulling these particular components. We’d imagine someone who knows their way around trim in these cars might complete it in less time.

Parts:

quattro-light

LED Brand Logo Under Door Lighting
You may not even notice it, but most if not all modern Audi models have LED lighting under the doors in order to bathe the ground by your feet in soft light when the door is open in low light environments. Effectively, it’s a diffused LED diode that creates a soft cloud of light. Now, Audi genuine accessories is offering a direct replacement light unit that focuses that LED light in a trick projected Audi four ring or quattro script logo on the ground.

Given our car is an allroad, also known as the allroad quattro, we found the quattro script logo to be a trick addition. Replacement is relatively straightforward, done in just minutes with the help of a trim tool for prying. Worth noting, this is not one size fits all. We accidentally bought a set that is believed to be for larger Audi models. Given this can sometimes be model specific, we’d suggest you confirm your part number (and also whether you want the four ring or quattro logo) before ordering. Our particular fitment was ‘quattro’ and for B8 models like our A4 allroad and that unit’s information can be found below.

Parts:

‘quattro’ Logo Light Units 4G0052130, $182

What’s Next?
What’s next for the interior? For one, we’d like to match the shift boot to our new S4 style wheel and maybe fit a more sporting shift knob like that of the SQ5. More than that, we’d really like to upgrade to a more sporting set of seats – either S4 sport style seats or even more aggressive European market RS 4 units. Whether or not we manage a more complicated seat upgrade, time will tell. In the meantime, we’re going to focus more on other elements of the car for now.

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