You either have it or you don't. Take Marilyn Monroe for example. She exuded classic beauty, classic lines and, quite frankly, looked as good in an evening gown as she did in a T-shirt and jeans. Similar fates can befall our beloved European automobiles as well. A Mk2 GTI can look just as good with G60 flares and big bumpers as it can stripped down with small bumpers and retro styling.
The Audi A3, on the other hand, doesn't have the same chameleon characteristics as the Mk2 GTI. It's a great car and attractive for sure. What's more, the A3 will undoubtedly stand the test of time much like another mod-sensitive platform; the Corrado. But as John Martin at NGP Racing found out, the right parts can make all the difference.
John is a co-owner of NGP, runs the Lorton, VA location, and is an old high-school friend of company founder Dave Graf. The two talked of starting New German Performance many years back, and while Dave followed his dream, it wasn't until 2006 that John returned to the fold. "We both knew we had a love for the industry, we just needed to figure out how to make a living at it. Without the financial status or business knowledge to do that, I moved out to the Midwest to take a management position that lead to invaluable experience in corporate America, but I later learned that wasn't the career I wanted to pursue."
By that point, NGP was a stable business, having been started back in '97 by Dave and his former business partner, Ed Sheets. And with John back onboard, the A3 would be his first build since joining. "I initially considered a Mk5 GTI, but wanted something different," John told us. "In addition, both of the NGP locations do plenty of Audi service, tuning and project builds, but we'd never had an Audi demo car."
The A3, with its potent 2.0T FSI motor and capable chassis, was a good basis for the project. The idea was to create a car that was aggressive enough to turn heads, had the performance to back it up, yet remained refined and reliable enough for anybody to don a suit 'n tie and drive to work everyday.
With NGP an APR distributor since '02, they naturally turned to an APR stage 3 turbo upgrade kit as the basis of the build, with its larger turbo, high-pressure fuel pump, larger injectors, software plus all the associated plumbing and hardware. "APR software is one of the reasons we went down this road. Obviously, there's the option to weld piping and design a custom turbo kit, but it always boils down to the software," John explained.
The rest of the APR parts catalog was added to ensure maximum power, including a Carbonio intake, APR front-mount intercooler, and a modified APR exhaust system with a pre-muffler removed for a more aggressive sound.
Internally, the 2.0T was beefed up with Pauter rods to ensure nothing would head in a direction it wasn't supposed to under higher boost pressures. The stock pistons were retained, but everything was balanced to ensure smoother running.
With a port-matched exhaust manifold and new fuel pump, the A3 laid down a solid 344whp and 284 lb-ft at 22psi. Since the motor had stronger rods, NGP unlocked the race fuel program, which takes advantage of increased timing with 100-octane fuel, and an impressive 363whp and 315 lb-ft was achieved at the same boost.
"From the start, we knew APR upgrades would have perfect drivability. After it was installed, we pretty much drove it out of the shop and ran the hell out of it. It's the sort of kit you can drive all day and still burn the tires off if you want to," John laughed.
With reliability being high on the list for the Audi 8P chassis, the drivetrain was similarly upgraded. A Peloquin torque-biasing differential increased traction, while Spec's stage 3+ clutch and lightweight flywheel kept the engine and transmission on the same page when it came to engine speeds and gear changes.