In our previous installment we flashed the ECU of our Audi TTS with that old APR magic to Stage 1. We also became the first mag-ride equipped Audi in North America to utilize the new KW Suspension “Elektronics kit”, defeating the CEL’s that usually go along with that while creating a beautifully handling and properly stance’d MK2 TT. This time around, it was time to go one step, or rather two stages, ahead with the first APR Stage 3 build on a North American TTS.
Before I even get into the story here, APR is to be thanked for their cooperation in backing this installment. Due to their great attitude towards Project TTS/SF we were able to use this car to aid APR in the development of their Stage 3 setup for the 265hp 2.0T FSI. This in turn has pushed the car’s numbers to very near the goal that we were originally planned when this whole series began.
This installment started in March when I checked up on the APR website to see if they had added anything new for the TTS. On this particular day there was a new entry on the TTS page that said something to the effect of “New TTS Stage 3 kit coming soon”. I put an email in and was excited to hear back from APR’s Keith Lucas that they were actively seeking a TTS for research and development based on the success of their Stage 3 S3 for overseas markets. Obviously the S3’s 2.0T FSI engine is nearly identical to that of the TTS, so APR already had a fair amount of the work completed. I think they would have preferred to have an R&D car of their own, but the concept of a cross-country trip sounded like an unforgettable adventure. I offered to get myself, and the car out there to become the first official Stage 3 TTS in North America. APR Japan had apparently already put in a fair bit of the groundwork and had a TTS that was fitted with the Stage 3 S3 kit, but my car would be the first to have a fully engineered kit with remap compatible with North American cars.
I jumped in the car at 5am on a Tuesday and drove the TTS as it was meant to be driven: flat out and stopping almost exclusively for lightning fast fueling and some cruddy gas station cuisine. I arrived in Opelika, Alabama home of APR Tuning in less than 2 days. The next morning I joined the APR team flying down to the Homestead race near Miami to witness some mental racing by the APR Motorsports team. I was proud as hell to watch the B8 S4 and their pair of VW GTIs chasing down the competition and showing them all who is boss. After two busy days of running around filming the event, we returned to Opelika. When we got there, we discovered that Charlie Coleman (APR’s main mechanic) and the APR engineers were already tearing down the engine of the TTS in order to make way for the Stage 3 hardware.
When I finally saw the APR headquarters for the first time, it was truly impressive. The headquarters is perched on a hilltop looking out at Alabama’s Highway 280 with a view of most of the Opelika/Auburn area. At 36,000 state of the art square feet you’d be hard pressed to find another tuner in the world who is better equipped to handle every aspect of not only their tuning business, but their racing team as well. Honestly I was totally and completely blown away. Seeing their facilities made me very proud to be running their gear.
I stayed in Opelika for 2 weeks because it looked as though there was a good chance that the TTS could be done in that timeframe and within two days the car was totally built out with the Stage 3 hardware. However, the engineers still needed to work their magic on the ECU to prepare it for the new hardware and the nearly doubled power levels. During this time, the car received all standard bits usually seen in a Stage 3 kit from APR. This particular system centers around a GT2871 turbo and new APR manifold. Other parts included in the kit are a silicone intake hose, all new gaskets and sparkplugs, steel braided oil/coolant lines, turbo discharge pipe and high flow injectors. Additionally I added a few more components to the mix. I had APR rebuild my fuel pump to their high flow spec, add the AWD divorced down pipe and mid-pipe and top the car off with their front mounted intercooler.
So after 2 weeks it was decided that the APR engineers would like to spend more time running tests to get this whole Stage 3 package ready for prime time. I flew home and came back a few weeks later to fetch the car and bring it back to San Francisco. The video Webisode 6 at the bottom of this story will give you a better visual for what we got to see along the journey of the “road trip” part of this adventure.
My whole trip back to California started on May 1st, which was exactly 10 days after the BP oil spill began. This meant that as I was driving from Opelika, Alabama to Biloxi, Mississippi I was essentially heading right towards Gulfport, the largest oil-boom stationing location in the area. I basically tore though that area as quickly as possible stopping in Biloxi, overnight before heading southeast through Gulfport and out to New Orleans to avoid what had already become an enormously congested area for traffic.
My wife flew down to Louisiana from her native New York to meet me there or the drive home to California. We spent 2 days in New Orleans and our drive back was a more reasonable pace along the Southern I-10 route and back through the Southwestern USA. Admittedly there were more than enough opportunities to open the TTS up on all those lonely stretches of road between Alabama and California and that was precisely what I did. I mean after all, isn’t that what you’d do with what feels like a brand new 400hp car?
NEXT INSTALLMENT: It’s a goodyear for some new shoes