When it comes to performance, our Project B85 allroad has given us just enough of a taste that we want more. We’ve already improved handling with upgrades to suspension, wheels and tires. However, before we up our Avant’s power, we first want to focus on its ability to stop.
Of course, North American Audi Avant enthusiasts only really get one flavor. The sole remaining station wagon body style in the USA is the allroad (A4 allroad to markets where more than one allroad exists). And, while the European market A4 allroad has several engines from which to choose, the comparably slower Avant-selling market of the USA only gets the aforementioned 4-banger. Alas, seemingly from the philosophy Henry Ford spearheaded with his not-so-colorful Model T, those of us in America can have any Avant we wish so long as it’s an A4 allroad 2.0 TFSI with 8-speed Tiptronic transmission.
It may sound as if we’re complaining. We’re not. Well, not exactly. While we’d donate kidneys to get our hands on an RS 6 Avant Stateside, we’ve come to love our Project B85 allroad. Its flared fenders and full body kit make for a most sporting appearance. Combined with lower ride height courtesy of H&R springs and choice matte titanium 20-inch S5 alloys from Audi and it all makes for a great start. Upping our allroad’s handling and appearance has only served to make us desire going further, yearning to go faster and stop shorter. This time around, we’ll focus on stopping shorter with a massive brake application pulled from Audi’s own parts bin.
The OEM plus modification style is strong with our Project B85 allroad, possible in no small part due to the deep selection of models, particularly robust S and RS offerings developed on the so-called B8.5 platform. When it came to brakes, we turned to the RS 4 and RS 5 models with their massive painted aluminum monoblock calipers (available both in gloss black and red) and paired with cross-drilled rotors. The latter, so-called “wave design rotors” for their wave pattern along their outer edge, not only look trick but also drop about 3kg (6.61 lbs) of weight thanks to tech proven from Audi Sport and Ingolstadt’s Ducati subsidiary.
From a hardware and cost perspective, this is a significant upgrade. Here we wanted to be as factory as possible, so ordered all necessary components rather than fabricating brake lines or cutting corners. This included 365 mm (14.37 inch) ventilated front rotors, 324 mm (12.76 inch) ventilated rear rotors, 8-piston front calipers, single floating piston rear calipers and pads for all four corners. Necessary in addition to these, but only at the front, were carriers and brake hoses. Finally, we also ordered four dust shields, though during installation at our local dealer Audi Mechanicsburg, we found the rear dust shields appear to be identical to those outfitted as stock fitment on the allroad. We’ve assembled a full list of parts and part numbers ordered for this conversion below.
If you choose to go with this OE upgrade, wheel fitment should definitely be a consideration. The minimum diameter wheel that can fit to this configuration is a 19-inch, while even larger wheels may not clear the rotors. Eyeballing our current 20-inch S5 fitment wheels beforehand, we were hopeful that we’d not be left looking for a new wheel option.
What we can confirm is that the brakes clear the S5 wheels. As S5s don’t have such massive brakes, this wasn’t necessarily a sure thing. Fortunately for us, it all worked out in the end. Even then, we still have some other considerations. There’s no hope for our original equipment 18-inch alloys, though we’ve long swapped them and will likely sell them off. Our 19-inch winter wheel setup should clear as this allroad option wheel appears to be identical to the RS 4 winter wheel. We’ve not yet had a chance to test fit these just yet, but will do so and update this story once we have.
All of that stated, we couldn’t be happier with our decision. It’s not a cheap option, but in our mind you can never have too much hardware when it comes to stopping. Audi’s uber cool and effective carbon ceramic brakes optional on the RS 4 in Europe were simply too costly for our budget, but these were a more affordable and arguably more trick looking option that should still qualify as massive overkill for this application.
How is cost? All told, full retail is $7709 as of this writing. That includes all OEM parts needed to do all four corners, but excludes labor as that will vary. Given a similar Brembo 6-piston front setup is about $4500 last time we checked, this option may be pricey but it seems to be about the same as an aftermarket Brembo setup.
As for installation, we went with our local dealership Audi Mechanicsburg. Even though we went with all factory parts, we’d not be surprised if a dealership geared more for service and repairs would hedge a bit when it came to doing such a science experiment. Fortunately for us, Audi Mechanicsburg is one Audi store more than willing to throw a skilled set of hands at such a job. For that we thank them. Going with a dealership wasn’t our cheapest installation option, but here again we wanted to be as factory as possible and a trained Audi technician seemed like the best place to start.
How is performance? We haven’t tracked the allroad yet, but we’ve driven it hard and not yet tortured them into fading. Short of track use or Tail of the Dragon caliber back roads, we doubt we will.
We have adjusted ourselves to a change in immediate bite. While possible that our A4 allroad has a smaller master cylinder and thus generates less hydraulic pressure than an RS 4, we’re currently attributing a slightly less initial bite to pad compound. Hard pressure gives us improved stopping performance, while significantly less dust on the wheels suggests there was more steel in the stock allroad brake pads. Steel generally gives a car impressive initial bite, but results in massive amounts of dust and more rapid rotor wear. We’ve adjusted to the slight change and are quite happy with performance.
Another appreciable change must also certainly be aesthetic. The larger gloss black painted calipers with RS sport logo make the old weathered and dust-stained allroad brake calipers look prematurely old given their 10K miles of service. The massive pie plate cross-drilled wave rotors further add a multiplier of 10 to the cool factor. While the allroad brakes were frankly unremarkable looking behind our 20-inch alloys, these new brakes garner plenty of second looks from car savvy passers by at at car shows like Waterfest or DC area Cars & Coffee where the car has visited since the brakes’ installation.
Brakes and handling addressed, our next performance upgrades will be focused on upping the car’s power and adding one further OEM plus upgrade to the suspension. Before that though, it’s about time we turn our attention to the allroad’s cabin.
Brakes – Part Numbers and Price in USA on Publishing Date Below
- Front Drilled Wave Rotor, Part# 8T0615301 (2 needed): $702 each
- Rear Drilled Wave Rotor, Part# 8K0615601G (2 needed): $631 each
- Dust Shield, Part# 8T0615311C: $130 each
- Dust Shield, Part# 8T0615312C: $130 each
- Rear Caliper, Part# 8K0615403D: $670 each
- Rear Caliper, Part# 8K0615404D: $670 each
- Brake Pads, Part# 8T0698151C: $450 each
- Brake Pads, Part# 8K0698451D: $95
- Caliper Mount, Part# 8K0615425A: $334
- Caliper Mount, Part# 8K0615426A: $334
- Front Caliper, Part# 8T0615107D: $995
- Front Caliper, Part# 8T0615108D: $995
- Brake Hose, Part# 8T0611707B (2 needed): $120 each