There are a few cars we enthusiasts consider universally loved. The E30 M3, Porsche 993 Carrera, VW MK1 GTI, and Audi Ur Quattro are just a few of those European examples that are impossible to hate unless you are just a contrarian who wants to spout Ben Shapiro style points they dug up on a YouTube video written by someone equally angry and attention-hungry as the little conservative. Diatribe aside, one of our favorite cars that fall into the category of unequivocal praise is the Audi B5 S4, which was the inception of the S4 namesake, and became a platform with cult-like popularity even today, nearly twenty years after it’s introduction. Today, we’re going to address a few of the best ways to make the B5 S4 even better than it was from the factory.
With the popular trend centered around lowering your car, it is no different with the B5 S4. Whether you have the Avant (wagon) model or the sedan, a lowered ride height gives your car a sleeker, more refined, and modified look. More importantly, it allows you to lower your center of gravity, improve traction, reduce body roll, and overall upgrade your S4’s ability in the twisties. For these cars, the most popular methods are either air suspension or coilovers, depending on your goals. If the ride height is something you like to change, and hard parking with your frame on the ground makes you drool, Air Lift suspension is your best bet. For those who want a lowered height with more deliberate height, rate, damping, and geometric settings for the ultimate handling package, you should go with Coilovers. Dealer’s choice, there. Remember: don’t buy the most expensive, most adjustable, and most flashy ones unless you plan on actually using their full ability to improve your lap times. If you just want it lower, static, and cambered out, go with something affordable but still comfortable and high-quality like Bilstein, H&R, or BC Racing.
The B5 S4 has tons of power, and can make even more (which we will cover next) but needs the ability to stop effectively to use it efficiently. To stay on throttle longer, a big brake upgrade is the best. However, if you don’t spend time driving it at ten-tenths, a set of HAWK Performance Talon rotors and performance pads will suit you just fine. With the pads/rotors sorted, firm up your pedal feel with stainless steel lines from either ECS or 034Motorsport.
The B5 S4 features a 2.7-liter, twin-turbo, V6 that has more than enough performance to make regular commuters excited. For those of us who like to push boundaries, however, we look at it as a fantastic starting point. One fault those engines suffered was in the turbos, which tend to blow up at some point in higher mileage examples. A simple fix that solves your need for power is to swap out to K04 turbo upgrades. With bigger K04 turbos, bigger intercoolers/inlets, turbo-back exhaust, upgraded intake, and an APR tune, you will effectively double your power output and give even the newest high-performance cars a run for their money on the street or track. The APR tune alone accounts for up to 68hp, which is no small figure.
There are plenty of options. Some of my favorites I have seen are the classic BBS RS wheels, OZ Futura III, and Rotiform LAS-R. For you, though, wheels need to be a personal choice. Check out our article on fitment from yesterday to get your bearings on the maths you need to do to get that epic fitment you want, pick your favorite wheels, and give your B5 S4 the look you’ve always wanted.
The B5 S4 had a comfortable, cushy, and somewhat sporty interior from the factory. While plenty of examples are around that have a fantastic OEM interior, many suffer from age and wear. If that is the case for yours, then look no further than RECARO seats. Classic RECARO styles provide the European motorsport vibe your interior deserves. For manual transmission examples, Black Forest Industries shift knob and shift boot combos serve the interior well in looks and feel. Lastly, SCHROTH quick-fit harnesses will keep you in your seat without the need to ruin your back seat usability with a cage. Bonus points if you go with a Ziza LED interior light kit to update the looks of your ambient lighting.
Please, please, please, leave it alone. Unless you are making some crazy aero for time attack or hill climb, the smooth, futuristic look of the B5 S4 is perfect the way it is. Anything else, in my opinion, makes it look tacky. If you must, a simple front lip spoiler and rear lip spoiler will give you the sporty look you want without ruining the pristine factory lines found on the B5.
In conclusion, there are a few upgrades you can make to your B5 S4 to make it a more than capable high-performance sedan or wagon that you can reliably drive year-round. For those of you who just want to keep it nice, clean, and stock, you can find all the service kits and OEM parts you need right here at ECS Tuning.