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My encounter with the Stealth Beast

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by warren_S5, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Last night I ventured cross county from West to East Berkshire to find out if the rumours about a certain black S3 could possibly live up to expectation. That certain black S3 is the property of BigAndy S3, and he calls it Stealth.

    Stealth is a fair name for this bomber. When I pulled up on the drive and saw it's darkened snout pointing out of the garage, I could see it has been stealthily designed in a way that the average Porsche driver looking in their rear view mirror would have no idea that what they were seeing was anything more than a tidy black A3.

    [​IMG]

    In the world of modifying you meet people from all walks of life, so you never quite know whether you are going to meet a millionaire, or a rich kid living at home with all his income disposable for cars. As Andy appeared on the doorstep of his Berkshire home to greet me, it was apparent he was a decent middle aged guy who lived well in all aspects of life, and didn't make the compromise of living in a sty to afford the luxury of '4 rings on the bonnet'.

    Anyway, I'm not here to character profile Andy, some of you with either know him already, or probably meet him or see him in a magazine some time soon! Back to the Stealth.

    Andy gifted me the opportunity of a quick tour round the engine bay before my test flight, and personal observations are immediately positive.

    [​IMG]

    Although it has taken Andy a couple of iterations to get to this spec, the mods seem intelligently planned out. From talking with Andy it's immediately apparent that he has liaised with a wide range of tuning houses, suppliers and the general public to get a broad view of what is best. It has helped that he has been in a position to support his learnings with the financial backing to pay for all this, but as you peruse around the engine bay there are very well thought out mods which include some lovely touches (reworked gear linkages, induction heat wrap tape, prep for catch tank), all which add to the effect of maximising good gains. The S3 is now over 2 years old, but has not in the mainstream been modded to the extent that this car has. Along the way Andy is having to take advice, chances, and ride his luck a bit hoping that the labours of this project still deliver a luxury hatchback which is a great daily driver. Delivering a Jeckyl and Hyde split personality for the car is the clever bit, ensuring when taken up to the limit it is as comforatble performing the duites of 'Porsche eater'. It is an incredibly difficult balance to strike, as so often you can ruin a car completely by pushing things too far, and I am pleased to say that whilst there are still a few choice plans left in the wings (as much for insurance as for outright power), the car still feels well within itself. The capabilities of the chassis have not been overburdened by an overload of unusable power. I'm watching with interest about a certain ITG product we may see surfacing shortly.

    [​IMG]

    Andy kindly offered to take me out on a blat round some of his local roads so I could appreciate how well the mods come together as a package. I gratefully strapped in, and despite the forboding burble I had heard from the engine on start up, in reality I was expecting something that maybe mildly exceeded the power rating of the S3 I had just turned up in. First big mistake!

    Once warmed Andy opened the car up a little to show how well the Bilstein PSS10 suspension, and uprated ARB's worked in combination with the highly grippy intermediate styled Yoko Parada's. The absolute truth is that if I had attempted to replicate this drive in my car on the way back home I'd have been in hospital with an insurance claim pending. Andy has a very fluid driving style which means that he isn't hustling the car between landmarks so much as stroking it, but the effect was mind blowing as the car appeared to defy the general laws of physics. Although I have always rated the S3, I hadn't recognised it had such realisable potential, and as such was writing it off as our next car. The ride whilst firm, remained compliant enough that no visits to the chiropractor were necessary, and a set up like this makes you realise how commercially safe the OE S3 set up really is. Also adding to this mix of competence was a wisely chosen alloy wheel, chosen based on weight consideration rather than outright bling factor. Unsprung weight can be a real problem when setting up a cars suspension, so get this right and your car will feel far more nimble as you are shaving the weight of a set of lowering springs off each wheel (to quote Andy!).

    Enough about the suspension; although good it paled into insignificance against the remorseless and unrelenting power of the engine. I may well have offended Andy with some of the 4 letter expletives I spouted in the car, but all were due to my shock as how fast this car actually is. I am rarely frightened by speed, purely because I love it. However this car is so fast it actually makes it FEEL properly fast. Because so many fast Audi's are over engineered they tend to mask their speed quite well. To break this tendency your car has to be super-fast, and Andy's car is right on the money here. At 427bhp (dialled back), and WMI on the way to release more potential this is a true super car eater. At no point in the rev range or speedometer position does this car ever stop feeling urgent or lacking in grunt. It's absolute savagery. The world was going past very quickly and I was deeply reassured by the fact Andy had done the honorable thing and poured £2k into the brake department as the bomber also stops from silly speeds in a matter of seconds. The huge mechanical grip afforded by the Parada's are also instrumental here. Too many people pile money on power mods, and then forget you only have 4 contact points less that the size of your shoes keeping you attached to the Queen's Highway. Not a good move. Yet again it reinforced the very balanced approach to the modification path that Andy has taken here.

    [​IMG]

    At this point I realise I haven't mentioned the exhaust system in the mix. This is an interesting beast manufactured in part by the tuners (The Phirm) who Andy has used for his BT conversion. The front part of the exhaust system has had the cat removed, and is a full 3" system going right back to the Milltek backbox (which has been painted black unsurprisingly!). Although raucous under load, it was never oppressive, and with the amount of gases that are passing through Andy's set up it is a pre-requisite to continued performance. So often people obsess about fat diameter pipework, but unless you have the power to match you can significantly reduce your back pressure, and as a result your overall torque figures. Not an issue here, and a very worthy addition which has afforded the enlarged turbo far better breathing space.

    On the way back Andy proved that the car is every bit the composed daily driver as it is the stealth bomber. At 30-40mph it is every bit an S3; composed, peaceful and wholly 'livable with'. And that in itself to me is the real key to this cars outright genius, making this car most things to most men. There isn't really a weak point (and before you mention fuel consumption or tyre wear costs, the turbo responds at higher RPM so you can comfortably sit under the spool band to retain MPG, and you can get over 10k out of your tyres - so Andy reports).

    [​IMG]


    Back on the drive I got out and had to stand back and respect. The guys at Revo and The Phirm have taken Andy's wishlist and translated it into something very special. When/if Audi were to bring out an RS3, it would be obliterated by this car without question. We did discuss that the S3 is little more than a tweaked S line, and could almost be deemed an imposter to the 'S' logo badge. I could be nothing but envious as I saw my car sat on it's OE 'stilts' (suspension!), waiting to ponderously take me home as best it could.

    [​IMG]


    So my take on all the above. Yet again it raises a key issue that if you have any intention on pursuing a significantly modded car, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for RESEARCH, COLLABORATION, and an OPEN MIND. You also need to be able to call on a good tuning house who can help you to steer round the likely pitfalls, or ensure they can help you maximise with mods that aren't counterproductive.

    Andy and I talked for some time about our mixed experiences with some of the tuning fraternity (and our dismay of Audi dealers on the M4 corridor!). These guys are key to your success, and the better your relationship with them the better your long term modification path will be as they aren't just interested in selling you what is on offer this month, but what will compliment what you have. This needs to be backed by experience to predict and manage any limitations you are likely to face with the OE product, and how to work round this. I have experience of Revo, and concur with Andy's findings on their helpfulness to deliver customers needs. Andy has had excellent service from the Phirm, and whilst I have never used them myself, the initial feedback seems very promising for anyone who is considering modding from the M4 / West London catchment area.

    If I had to be critical, and I'm really clutching at straws here, the only thing I would struggle with on this car is the ride compliance. Andy has chosen a firm set up, and whilst it compliments his driving style / requirements perfectly, some of my passengers would struggle with it somewhat. That in turn wold make my ears ache! I would have to run slightly softer, but then that in itself is a compromise. Horses for courses. This is truly the only thing I could personally challenge on this car.

    The S3 has very much proved me wrong today. It's chassis is far more capable with carefully selected mods than I had given credit for. Knocking on the door of half a thousand horsepower it has not destroyed or even tainted the composure of the car, and in fact done nothing other than making it more of the car that it should have been in the first place. Keep your eyes open in the press, and I think you'll be seeing a lot more of Andy and this car in the future.

    [​IMG]

    Needless to say, the drive home was somewhat tame, but I'd had a great time so thanks Andy for the chance of a test run. It left me pondering a thought Andy made that I am somewhat in limbo land with my mods, and it's about time I spent a few more quid (and not a lot at that) to cover off some bases and make it a more complete package. Watch this space! :think:
    #1
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  2. S3 Big Andy
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    S3 Big Andy Stealth Beast Baby Yay

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    Wow, thanks Warren, you are right about the stiffness my ear aches all the time!! I do dial down to 6 or 5 sometimes though, PSS10's are the model btw..
    #2
  3. Ash B
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    Ash B Well-Known Member

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    Love Andy's S3! Also some nice photo's. Once again Warren great write up and description on the Stealth Beast. Always love to see Andy car in the flesh! And going down a strip...Hopefully one day i will


    Glad you and Andy had a good day, and sounds like you have a good experience. Have you got any more plans for your car? Going to keep it for longer? Or get a newer S3 after another year?
    I love the front of Andy S3 just blacked out. I'm pretty sure no one would want to see this car coming up behide them in the dark!

    Once again Warren great write up and thanks for sharing this with us on here.


    Ashley
    #3
  4. APL TDi
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    APL TDi Member

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    That was a great read. Nice one:o.k:
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  5. wolfbane1967
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    wolfbane1967 Member

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    Thank you for this report and pictures :arco:
    #5
  6. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Wife wants S5 or RS4 estate, I wanted RS4 estate, or strangely a BMW 335i???

    However last night I'm chewing the cud on what to do next. Do I keep with this after the pain in the arse it has been and risk making it a downspec stealth bomber (I just don't have the funds to take it to Andy's level), or do I go for a revised S3 Gen 4 Haldex car and start again with my current mods. Too many questions for a Friday morning!

    cheers

    Warren
    #6
  7. 10blazin
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    10blazin HYPERDRIVE NEEDED

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    AWESOME TRULY AWESOME. i would be a very happy guy with this S3 , andy well done mate your car is the best s3 on here by far , its amazing i would love my car to be like that ..... great right up warren .
    #7
  8. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Nice write up Warren, me and my cousin have done the same kinda thing with his mk1 TT roadster. Spent £12k on it last summer, so I know how you feel about all the mods and the "whole" package.

    Good write up.
    #8
  9. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm always massively respectful of people who are prepared to carry the risk and push the boundaries. There is huge expense involved, and a lot of learnings along the way. These people who choose to pioneer and push out the accepted 'safe' boundaries help us all to realise the potential with an added safety net of protection, so I think we should always be grateful for what they are doing as there's a lot of stress, hassle and money involved as you'll know from your project!

    Also I think the above really reinforces that piecemeal modding isn't necessarily the way to go. Throwing arbitrary 'of the moment' mods at a car as and when they come out is no guarantee for success. You need long term, big picture vision and approach.
    #9
  10. ~RS~
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    ~RS~ Active Member

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    Great write up Warren thanks for that! Your misses has good taste in cars btw ;) Andy's car is awesome, to say the least... from everything I have read about the beast it's must be the best, if not close to the best S3 I have read about to date
    #10
  11. Staz
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    Staz is a retronaut Staff Member Moderator

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    Great write up, great car! :applaus:
    #11
  12. a_sagad
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    a_sagad Member

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    Andy, great car, and Warren, great write up!

    This is what an RS3 should be like, but everyone knows that it will not pass Andys!
    #12
  13. redbutcher
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    redbutcher Member

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    What a great read, thanks for that Warren.
    If I ever see your car in the rear view mirror Andy I'll shift out the way sharpish!
    #13
  14. Essflee
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    Essflee Active Member

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    Brilliant right up warren, well done Andy...car looks and sounds awesome, good work !!
    #14
  15. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    A-Men brother :applaus: Well said :hi: The whole project will be complete hopefully by next month, I'll do a build thread on it then, I know its not an A3/S3, but it'll be worth a read as your thread was.

    Thanks again Warren, your a good member to this forum ;)
    #15
  16. S3 Rav
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    S3 Rav Well-Known Member

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    great car and write up. really does look like a beast!!
    #16
  17. tom-craig@hotmail.co.uk
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    tom-craig@hotmail.co.uk Member

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    great write up, and a fantastic attention to detail car,as a middle aged man myself its proves you can never be to old to appreciate a fast moddified car, maurice reeves of volkswagon fame comes to mind,i once had super charged g60 and this guy laps me in a 1300 vw jetta and try as i mite i could not catch him
    #17
  18. HotboxDeluxe
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    HotboxDeluxe automatic

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    Nicely written report on a fantastic car :thumbsup:

    I am hardly ever impressed by S3's but all murdered-out with 400+bhp and manners? Well I'd be a knob if I didn't like it :happy:
    #18
  19. S3Alex
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    S3Alex Rarely neutral

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    Nice thread,nice car,and all very well put!

    There is no substitute for thinking out mods very carefully,and checking all of the options before putting it into practice.

    I've had a few modded cars before,and with the first,made some of the mistakes that many of us make,before learning who does things properly,and who doesnt.

    As an example,the first "tuner" I went to see had got a lot of press,some very decent,and off I went for a new exhaust and chip upgrades....I left with an exhaust that gave trouble from the beginning and when I got shot of it,and had a chance to see what had been done I was appalled.
    The same guy was busy rebuilding Cosworth heads on the shop floor on a piece of cardboard,and that was the last time I went there.

    With the S3,I have the benefit of you guys,and when I want to spend some cash,I can look to Andy and a few others for places to start.

    It's been very helpful to see what is worth doing and what isnt,and having a clear idea of what you want saves a huge amount of time,effort,and more importantly money.

    Well done Andy,and thanks to Warren.

    BTW...mine is having a further brain scan,and the Forge CAI and DV today,so hopefully the drive back should be more fun than usual.
    #19
  20. Iggu
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    Iggu Active Member

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    Wait til you hear the noise Alex ...... its more addictive than heroin.
    #20
  21. Jamiekip
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    Jamiekip Member

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    Middle aged man :haha:

    'tis an awesome car fo'sure :)
    #21
  22. S3 Big Andy
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    S3 Big Andy Stealth Beast Baby Yay

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    I know!!! GF did'nt stop laughing for hours!
    #22
  23. dc240969
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    dc240969 Member

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    :meeting:

    not even going to ask you to elaborate.:moa:
    #23
  24. gixxer600k4
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    gixxer600k4 Member

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    i think u should do a vid for all of us who are not lucky enough to see/hear the beauty
    #24
  25. DeckedS3
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    DeckedS3 Active Member

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    Sounds very impressive! Nice write up!
    #25
  26. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm 36 and I'm proper middle aged. If I somehow manage to have the good fortune to live to 70 I will have done well!! I try and act like a child to hold on to my youth a bit!!
    #26
  27. Igdos
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    Igdos Member

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    Just repeating what's been said - one of a kind S3 & enjoyed the read, great write-up skills. :respekt:
    #27
  28. block
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    block Member

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    Awesome car, and a damn good write up. Makes me want my exhaust and hpfp even more, there next on my list.
    #28
  29. S3Alex
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    S3Alex Rarely neutral

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    I can imagine....first Cosworth I had was loud,and the last was enough to make your ears bleed,so I could live without that!
    #29
  30. 10blazin
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    10blazin HYPERDRIVE NEEDED

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    yeah i agree i think about 60 years of age these days is about right lol ......with the stress of bills debt c cards kids and petrol and everything going more expensive ..its a joke :nyah:
    #30
  31. mac1403
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    mac1403 Member

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    Nice write up mate. I did say no mods with this car (not like the others) but I am becoming weaker by the day LOL
    #31
  32. erisaman
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    erisaman New Member

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    It's good to know that my 63 years of age is considered close to being about right! I've had the BMWs, the Mercs of all persuasions and even two Jag XK8s, but right now, sitting in my garage, I have an A3 Sportback 2.0TFSi with DSG, an A3 2.0TDi S-Line with DSG and am currently speccing up a third A3 with 170BHP CRD with S-Tronic.

    Well, coming up to pension age, I'm not like you young studs with your S3s, I have to economise somewhere :).
    #32
  33. Spin140
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    Spin140 Active Member

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    Superb write up with some great pics.

    It's really good to see someone getting the whole modding process right

    I am very interested in this suspension set up, am i right in thinking it can be adjusted for a softer ride etc, if so how easy is this ?
    #33
  34. ADEY
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    ADEY Member

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    Great thread/article well written Warren :salute:
    Fantastic S3 Andy:applaus:
    #34
  35. Fast,not furious
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    Fast,not furious Dealing with an OCD

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    Excellent write up Warren,almost professional;)...
    ...stunning car Andy,what more can i say?
    #35

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