Tuning a fast Audi is exhausting work…
By Ben Lowden / Thursday, 21 December 2023 / Loading comments
By a margin, the main appeal of an Audi RS3 is that absolute peach of a 2.5-litre five-pot turbocharged engine. You can charge around the countryside channelling your inner Walter Röhrl (or insert your favourite Audi rally driver here) to the intoxicating warble and it never, ever gets dull.
Factory exhausts are generally a bit muted for my liking, though, so my first phone call post purchase was to Milltek. I opted for a cat-back stainless steel non-resonated system (no central silencer) with titanium tips. The system is valved so it works exactly like the OEM exhaust on the Sport button, keeping the valve closed when off and opening to unleash the full soundtrack when on.
The resulting sound is, in my humble opinion, perfect. The volume of the Milltek system with the valve closed is probably equivalent to the OEM system with the valve open. Perfect for motorways and daily driving without scaring small children, in other words. But the fun really starts with the valve open, the previously muted five-pot melody unleashed at an enjoyable level without being deafening. That my three-year-old laughs every time we accelerate suggests I’m not the only one enjoying it.
Thank you to our friends at the Revo Performance Centre who fitted it for me. If you buy a cat-back Milltek exhaust system from them, they’ll fit it for free at their HQ in Daventry, so it’s a no-brainer. They tried to tempt me into a Stage 1 remap at the same time, but I resisted (for now) as I wanted to get the handling and braking up to scratch first.
Going back to the five-pot, it might have won the International Engine of the Year award for nine years running, but it’s not without its faults. Carbon build up in the inlets is problematic across Audi’s direct injection engines and well known in the 4.2-litre V8. Let this build up too much and your valves will seize, and you can say goodbye to your engine and your holiday fund for the next couple of years.
The solution is walnut blasting, and with no record of this ever being done on my car, I paid a trip to The Turbo Unit in Fazeley, which is a very well-regarded firm in the RS3 community. They recommend walnut blasting every 30,000 miles and looking at the state of my inlets, I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer – £500 well spent.
Something else Ben at The Turbo Unit flagged is the injectors; for the 8P RS3 they were made with plastic baskets, which can deteriorate and break down, again with engine-ending potential. The options here are either the latest generation of injectors brand new from Audi for circa £1,250, or to rebuild existing injectors with metal baskets for £500. I opted for the latter.
An expensive first few months then of RS3 ownership, but it’s already surpassing my expectations and is hopefully fighting fit now for a long time to come. Next stop is getting some Black Friday bargains fitted – more on that next time.
Car: 2012 Audi RS3
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: September 2023
Last month at a glance: RS3 finds its voice with a new set of pipes
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