For Audi enthusiasts

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20 November 2011

If you walk around the support paddock at Circuit de la Sarthe in France – site of the 24hrs of LeMans and ask the directors of the perspective manufacturers racing programs- “why do you race?” You will hear something along the lines of; technology developed in our motor sport program has a direct trickle down effect on our street cars of tomorrow. You will be hard pressed to find a manufacturer to echo these sentiments louder than Audi who has won the 24 hrs 10 times in the last 12 years. Today, at your local Audi dealer you will see acronyms such as FSI, TDI, LED etc. – these have all been developed and honed by Audi Sport for specific use in the cars we see on the road today. The tie between the track and the street is unmistakable for the four ringed marque – so in the latest edition of Project Glut S5 build…let’s drive that ideal home further – this time with BBS and Michelin, two companies with the same motorsport centric vision.

Baumgartner, Brand, Schiltach – is more affectionately known the world over as BBS by discerning enthusiasts and motorsport programs alike. The acronym is born from the last names of the two founders and the city in Germany where the company was founded in 1970 – originally as a manufacturing plant for plastic auto body parts. The BBS we know today really took off in 1972 as they pioneered the development of the three-piece racing wheel, a revolution in motor sport design. Today, after 35+ years of involvement in international motor sport and numerous places of honor in its highest forums, including the F1 constructor championships have given BBS the knowledge, experience, technology and product line to be the preeminent choice the world over for track and street use. Today, BBS produces wheels for motor sport, OE and aftermarket applications.

As I approached the decision for wheels on my S5 I had some pretty specific criteria and set ideals. I believe that wheels are not only an integral part of a car dynamically but the cosmetic was equally crucial. To this point, 12 months into ownership I had taken considerable time, effort and expense to evolve the car to its then current state. With the wrong wheel, things could be thrown out of harmony quickly. I was immediately drawn to BBS for its timeless, motor sport derived design – with leading edge technology.

Specifically my criteria was that of a one piece, open design wheel with a bit of contrast in 20×9” diameter. In speaking with BBS and going over several options, the wheel that emerged as the clear winner was the CH-R – a relatively new wheel that incorporates many of the technologies and design features established in the BBS Motorsport program, with specific attention paid to strength and weight savings. The milling, spoke design, rim flange and production methods are all ideals learned for the track and leveraged for the street. To do this, BBS incorporates these features in a flow forming process. This is achieved by continuously rolling the rim well over a cylinder under high pressure and at a high temperature, from 300 to 350 degrees Celsius, so that it is remodelled. The outcome is a thinner rim wall thickness and a lighter wheel that needs less material to be more resilient.

One of the other patented pieces that BBS has is their rim protector. With it, you can permanently safeguard the look of the wheel. Should damage occur, the rim protector is a replaceable spare part and can be exchanged quickly and easily without having to replace the entire rim or remove the tire!

The CH-R is available in several diameters and 3 unique finishes- Brilliant Silver, Satin Black and the option I chose that is new for 2011, Satin Titanium. As I stated earlier, I wanted to provide some contrast to the Audi Exclusive Glut Orange paint and I felt the Satin Black was simply too much contrast as much of the wheel depth was lost… especially the beautiful scalloping of the spokes, a key design feature of the CH-R and a weight saving technique BBS utilzes. The Titanium finish not only offers just the right amount of contrast, it also just so happens to perfectly match the “platinum” grill and trim pieces fitted to Audi’s S cars. In contrast, the rim protector is done in stainless steel, providing just enough pop and another layer against the wheel itself – tying in perfectly to the factory bright work of the mirrors, window trim, exhaust tips, badging etc.

The wheels came perfectly packaged with all equipment and new lugs. Install was a breeze and they balanced flawlessly. How do they look? Well, I’ll let the photography of Donald Bond do the talking…

When it time came to pick out the tire to fit on the S5’s new wheels, I looked no further than a company with over one million logged miles at LeMans – a manufacturer that also looks to motor sport for technology inspiration to be used in its performance road tires. Michelin has been the gold standard in motorsport and road going rubber for decades and combined with there latest offering, they are now assured to be there for years to come.

Prior to 2011, the king of the max performance passenger tire was the Pilot Sport 2 (PS2); which was OEM fitment on more than 200 world class vehicles. This new Michelin offering gives the consumer better grip and handling in the dry than the PS2, better grip and handling in the wet than the PS2, a 30,000 mile tread life guarantee and a superior price point than the PS2. Stepping in for the outgoing Pilot Sport 2, the Pilot Super Sport is the essence of high performance and Michelin has tagged it as “Born from Endurance”.

This tire was designed for a wide variety of sports cars, as it integrates the full range of expertise developed by Michelin in the leading international endurance races and in particular the 24 hours of Le Mans. Michelin touts that the new PSS is able to deliver “12% better handling and 2x longer lasting tread life than its leading competitors.” I will spare you the plethora of statistical data I have at my finger tips and simply provide these cliff notes: the Pliot Super Sport, laps quicker in the dry and in the wet than the competition, it stops shorter in the dry and the wet than the competition and lasts longer than anything on the market in this segment.

Whats the magic formula? 1) a Twaron Fiber Belt 2) a Bi Compound tread band and 3) Variable contact patch 2.0. The Twaron Fiber belt wraps around the tire to ensure structural rigidity and shape at high speeds. The new Bi Compound tread is a game changer. The outer 20% of the tire is a compound that is pulled directly from endurance racing and provides amazing performance and wear characteristics, while the other 80% percent of the inner rubber is optimized for wet traction. Finally, advancements in software simulation have allowed Michelin to develop the variable contact patch 2.0 tread pattern and compound formulation for a better spread of pressure and temperature consistently across the contact patch – even under loading.

How does the Pilot Super Sport perform? Amazingly well. Compared to the OE fitment 255/35/19 Pirelli PZero Rosso tire which came on the S5 when it was delivered, a tire that Michelin often uses as a benchmark in comparison tests – it blows it away. The grip is astonishing – worthy of audible “wows” by the driver and passenger alike when pushed. And as you may recall from my last article, I was able to induce oversteer with the new suspension and sway bar set up on the stock Pirellis. However with these new PSS tires, it takes MUCH more be able to repeat this same feet. The PSS just grips THAT well.

One of the other truly dynamic components of this Michelin is how quiet and comfortable these tires are for there 275/30/20 footprint in Max Performance Spec. I wish I could speak to the wet grip at this point, but this “100 year” drought in South Texas, has prevented such. Michelin has really really knocked it out of the park with the Pilot Super Sport …look around enough and you will see the quote: “The Best Performing Street Tire on the Planet.” Believe it.

Up next: Expect to see a lot more of this S5 in the near future as its about to make the marketing/advertising rounds in just about every medium you can imagine; from social and web to viral and print. Stay tuned!

Project Glut S5

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