If you been to the any of the bigger VAG car shows recently, you can’t have missed Unitronic’s giant booths with a plethora of tuned cars and the French-Canadian models signing posters of its latest creation, this 2008 Audi A3 2.0T.
Based in Montreal, Unitronic Chipped began when Mike Zielinski and Mike Szmigiel studied how software changes could enhance engine performance while still using the OE sensors. As computer builders, the pair officially stepped into the automotive industry in 2003 after they developed a range of software programs focused on power and reliability for different injectors and turbo combinations on the 1.8T engine.
Since then, Unitronic has built a stunning array of Euros, including a dragster and Mk5 VW Rabbit turbo AWD (et 7/10), in order to promote its products. However, the team didn’t have a 2011 project car lined up until late February, with the upcoming show season right around the corner.
After scanning the cars that could fill the void, they selected an ‘08 Audi A3. After all, its 2.0L TFSI engine was easy to work with and the A3 platform can look very sexy if modified correctly.
Mike Szmigiel gave the huge task of coordinating the entire build to Steve Vaz at Unitronics, who utilized the in-house installation bay for the build. He began by raiding the European Audi S3 parts bin, collecting its larger K04 turbo, injectors and intercooler.
After that, the crew needed to fabricate some custom parts, such as the intake pipe that wraps around the back of the motor. Painted white to match the body, it was fitting into a cone filter to allow the K04 to breathe deep.
The turbo was strapped to a prototype 3" turbo-back exhaust system, which included a downpipe and resonator. And, of course, being software experts, the ECU was flashed through the OBD2 port with Unitronic’s stage 2+ software. Combined with the aforementioned modifications, it had the A3 spinning the rollers to 354hp and 355 lb-ft.
With the performance dialed-in, next up was the cosmetic overhaul. Again, they started with the OEM+ approach and obtained the S3 body kit, complete with front and rear bumpers, side skirts and door trim from TM Tuning. The parts were ordered from the two-door S3 catalog rather than the Sportback, which caused a slight fitment issue with the US Audi A3 rear bumper mounts, but otherwise it was gravy.
The gravy makers were LL Arts based in Saint-Hubert, Canada, entrusted to fit the body kit and paint it. In the process, they removed the rear badges, while spraying the front grille, roof and mirrors in piano black for contrast.
Once back at Unitronic HQ, Patrick Laporte spent two days pulling wires and routing air lines for the Air Lift Performance Series suspension kit. Up front he installed bag-over-strut assemblies, while the rear received bags that sit on modified control arms with Koni shocks.
The system’s relays and twin Viair 380cc compressors are hidden in the spare wheel well, leaving only the air tank in the center of the elegant trunk.
The air-ride is controlled by AutoPilot digital management that tucks a set of 19x8.5" Rotiform BLQ wheels into the fenders.
Reviving a look from the ’90s, the wheels were color-matched to the exterior to create a dramatic appearance, although we wouldn’t want to be the ones that clean them!
The color-coordination was repeated inside, focusing on the original S Line seats. These were sent to Autoskin in Montreal for refinishing, which involved covering all four in black Italian leather with diamond-pattern silver double-stitching. They also re-upholstered the door cards, front armrest and installed new S3 door sills.
With phase one complete, the Unitronic girls were enlisted for a poster shoot a few days before the A3 debuted at Waterfest 2011.
“The plan for 2011 was to get the A3 sitting and looking right,” Mike informed us. The next episode for 2012 will involve taking it a step further to rival some of Unitronic’s wilder builds. “We’re looking at a bigger turbo capable of 500hp or more, plus a quattro drivetrain complete with the subframe, diff and trans as well as a big brake kit,” he continued. “We’re excited to get the car finished, so look out for it on the show circuit this year!”
In addition to the car itself, Unitronic’s development work on the air intake and exhaust system has paid dividends with these items being made available to customers. The exhaust will fit the A3 as well as the Mk5 GTI and GLI. It’s a full turbo-back system but can be ordered in individual pieces to suit your needs.
The cold-air intakes will be available for the 1.8T and 2.0T in the GTI, A3 and A4.
et Tech Spec
2008 Audi A3 2.0T
Owner: Michel Szmigiel
Location: Montreal, Canada
Occupation: marketing Director
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder 16v FSI with Unitronic stage 2+ software, S3 K04 turbo, intercooler and injectors, Unitronic prototype air intake and 3" turbo-back exhaust system, high-pressure fuel pump
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission with S3 shift knob
Suspension: Air Lift Performance Series struts and bags, Koni rear shocks, two 380cc Viair compressors, five-gallon air tank, AutoPilot digital management
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" Rotiform BLQ wheels with 225/35 R19 General tires
Exterior: S3 bumpers, side skirts, piano black S3 grille, roof and mirrors, smoked running lights, de-badged tailgate
Interior: Autoskin double-stitched leather seats, door cards, armrest and rear seats, Podi boost gauge in New South Performance column pod, S3 door sills
Thanks: Katja at TM Tuning, Toby at LL Arts, Corey at Air Lift, Jason at Rotiform, Derick Szyda at Komet Motorsports, Podi, OEM Concept