What you're looking at on these pages is probably the most extreme Audi A3 you're ever likely to see. And it's been built with one purpose in mind: to go up hills faster than anything else this side of a cruise missile.
Just take a look at these numbers - two seats, four cylinders, one turbocharger, 750hp through all four wheels, a claimed 2sec to 60mph and one ecstatic owner; is that extreme enough for you?
Although it's been built for hillclimbs, the streets around Oslo, Norway will also see and hear this squat, mean, aggressive-looking beast.
As with most Frankenstein creations, this hard-as-nails brute started life as something more sedate: a TDI, no less. "Audi doesn't like what we do here," explains Tommy Schonberg, owner of TS Racing based outside Oslo. "I initially wanted to buy a bare shell so I could build it from scratch, but Audi refused to sell me one so I bought a cancelled order at a German dealership." And so Tommy took delivery of an A3 2.0 TDI quattro in '05. However, it didn't stay that way for very long...
It's pretty obvious what Audi doesn't like about TS Racing. The company is respected for its ability to coax considerably more power from Audi engines and business is brisk, with many customers prepared to travel hundreds of miles for this service. And what better way to showcase the company's talents than build the ultimate Audi?
Tommy achieved notoriety long before the A3 was even dreamed of, terrorizing Norway and Sweden in a B5 RS4 Avant. This car was shocking not only for its huge power, but for its pink paintwork. It got him noticed but pales into insignificance alongside this latest creation.
There's no point looking for any stereo install or TV screens in the A3 because this car is focused on one thing: the best possible power-to-weight ratio, which in this case is a colossal 750hp per ton.
Brush your fingers along its carbon hood, over its scratch-proof matte-silver paintwork and across the windows - they're plastic. The rear has a specially formed carbon fiber tailgate.
Open the driver's door and try to squeeze your frame into the hugging Sparco race seat with six-point harness. Once planted, you'll struggle to find any creature comforts whatsoever. There's no carpet, no headliner, no console, no electrical toys, no soundproofing and absolutely no nonsense.
What you'll find is an FIA-approved rollcage made from chromoly. There's a slither of carbon that forms a dashboard to house gauges for boost, oil pressure, etc, and a digital Racepak datalogger to display all the information a driver could want. There's a traditional H-pattern shifter and an exposed steering rack to show the car's intent.
Behind the front seats, it's no surprise to discover the rears were ditched in favor of a 30-liter fuel cell and oil cooler nestling between the cross braces of the rollcage. Behind it is a gargantuan radiator spanning almost the width of the car. Two large hoses suck air from the side intakes and pass it over the radiator.
On the outside things are equally business-like. The A3 squats low on 19" BBS rims and wide 265/30 BFGoodrich competition rubber. Up front there's an Oettinger bumper with a carbon splitter. The hood is also carbon and the side skirts are from Oettinger.
Interestingly, the flared wheel arches were from an Audi Allroad, but even these needed to be extended so two sets were used to cover the wheels.
Two exhaust pipes poke from either side of the car, ahead of the rear wheels and above the carbon fiber diffusers. These give vent to what's under that carbon hood.
Tommy wanted huge power, so each and every component has been tested to destruction. The engine had already seen active service in Tommy's RS4 Avant, but more power was required so a Turbonetics GT66 blower was fitted instead of the previous KKK item. It also uses a Nissan Skyline intercooler, which Tommy reckons is the only one for this size of turbo.
The engine itself is a two liter, four cylinder, 16v, dry sump Audi Motorsport unit. It's ideal for this application because the block needed to be small enough to be turned lengthways in the engine bay to give the massive turbo and inlet manifold more space. It's also far lighter than a V8 and has a proven track record in competition use.
When the car was stripped to its shell, the engine was similarly taken apart to be rebuilt with tougher internal components. It was then rigged to a dyno and taken to its limits. When certain items failed, they were replaced with stronger ones until Tommy was satisfied the engine was at its optimum.
The crankshaft, for instance, wasn't strong enough and since it's the heart of the engine, Tommy made another from billet steel so he knows it won't break.
One of the reasons he chose the 16v cylinder head is because the valves are big and strong. A 20v head has smaller, more fragile valves and springs, plus a more vulnerable camshaft.
When he was finished, the engine put out an impressive 750hp with 627 lb/ft of torque on the engine dyno.
As a result, the car's structure needed strengthening to handle both this incredible power and the rigors of competition. Hillclimbing may sound innocuous, but in reality it's a punishing sport that gives both car and driver a hammering. Tommy even suggests the A3 may end up doing Pike's Peak, which is about as tough as events get. Looking at what he's done, though, we expect it to last the distance.
All potential areas of vulnerability, such as the bulkhead, floorpan, engine mounts and suspension turrets were strengthened using heavy-duty steel. The steering assembly and suspension components needed to be changed because the engine is now longitudinal. There isn't a single piece of rubber in the suspension - everything's steel, uniball construction. "This is a racecar. It shouldn't move about," says Tommy.
The pedal system, gear shifter and handbrake assembly were made by a local company that manufactures high-grade weaponry. The brakes are from the Audi RS6, which should work fine because the A3 is less than half its weight. Tommy's not happy with the rear brakes, however, and is preparing to swap them for an AP setup. For now, the existing discs are grooved but not drilled; Tommy can't risk holes becoming clogged by kevlar from the pads which would result in fade when it's least wanted.
It is, he admits, an incredibly difficult car to drive. All four wheels break traction when power is applied, which can make corner exits pretty treacherous.
One of Tommy's engineers is also his co-driver. "He's the only one brave enough," he jokes. But the impression this man gives is one of steely determination, not recklessness. Safety is paramount on his agenda and he points out the incredible rollcage. "It's a long way down Pikes Peak if you get it wrong," he says, "but I'm sure we'd survive a tumble."
Let's hope he's right, because this incredible Audi doesn't mark the end of TS Racing's achievements. For these guys, enough is never enough and they're bound to continue the quest for extreme performance, strength and reliability.
Location: Oslo, Norway
Occupation: Owner, TS Racing
2005 Audi A3 TDI Quattro
Engine: two liter, 16v, i-4 Audi Motorsport unit with Turbonetics GT66 turbocharger, GReddy Skyline intercooler kit, 1600cc injectors, custom stainless steel exhaust system and custom rear-mounted radiator
Drivetrain: six-speed Audi Motorsports all-wheel drive transmission with Tilton Engineering triple-plate carbon clutch
Suspension: KW Competition coilover system
Brakes: Audi RS6 brakes with six-piston front calipers and single piston rears
Wheels & tires: 19x8.5" BBS CH alloy wheels, 265/30-19 BFGoodrich tires
Exterior: Oettinger front bumper and side skirts, carbon fiber hood, tailgate, front splitter, side winglets, JE Design adjustable rear spoiler, custom side and roof intakes, smoked tail lights, scratch-resistant matte-silver paint
Interior: chromoly WRC-spec rollcage, Sparco Circuit race seats and six-point harnesses, carbon dashboard, Racepak datalogger, 30-liter fuel cell