When last we left our Project B85 allroad, it’d dropped much of its ride height for more sporting handling and appearance. As the weather warmed, it was time to add a set of summer tires and larger wheels in order to finish the performance and appearance upgrade we’d begun with that suspension.

Some BackgroundBefore going further though, we feel the need to explain Project B85 allroad just a bit to our international readers. Just after publishing our last installment whereby a set of H&R Sport Springs dropped the car down to more of an RS 4-like ride height, we had a few commenters suggesting they just didn’t get the point of the series. Given these comments, we feel the need to explain.

Unlike Europeans who seem to have great affinity for Audi’s Avant models, America is slightly different in its tastes. Much of the traditional station wagon buying market has moved on to crossovers, leaving the A4 allroad as the only Avant body style currently sold by Audi of America. Want an A4 Avant? How about an S4, RS 4, RS 6, etc? Well, you’re going to have to take an A4 allroad.

As a result, there’s a cult-like following for the A4 allroad in America. Enthusiasts with more European tastes have been buying them up, lowering them in traditional or untraditional ways (air bags), and fitting them with all sorts of upgrades. Over here, it is decidedly a thing. Over there (in Europe), it’s less of a thing because someone who wants an S4 or RS 4 can just go out and buy an S4 or RS 4.
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Pairing a Set of WheelsBack to Project B85 allroad, the next upgrade on the docket was to decide upon a set of wheels. Thus far, we’ve been following the model set by the factory-built RS 4 Avants. The RS 4 gets 20-inch wheels. It seems Audi has found that diameter to be as large as one might go on the B8 chassis and not jeopardize ride quality or efficiency more than is necessary as deemed by those who designed the car. Aesthetically, 20-inch wheels fill the wheel wells of the B8 platform quite satisfyingly. In as much, our decision on diameter was made by Audi, or perhaps quattro GmbH.

When it came to wheel design, we decided to stay again with a factory option. Project B85 allroad has always been in the vein of a strongly OEM+ build, and Audi’s breadth of model range means there are several 20-inch wheel designs already offered for B8 chassis cars. Of these designs, one of our favorites is the split 5-spoke version fitted from the factory on the RS 6 Avant in 21-inch diameter.
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Fortunately for us, that same design wheel is a new addition for the A5 in 20-inch diameter, fitted first to the A5 Sport Edition plus package in Europe. That package has just been launched in America as the S line competition plus and, though it doesn’t come with the 20-inch option, the wheels themselves have been opened up for sale in North America and can thus be ordered at your local Audi dealer or via Audi of America's online parts store linked below in our parts listing.

It should be stated, these wheels are built to A5/S5 suspension geometry from the factory and are not technically intended to be an A4 part. The A4 is a narrower track than the A5 and that’s different enough by Audi’s own incredibly strict factory criteria to not promote the wheels as A4 fitment. That said, the flared allroad uses the wider track geometry of the A5 and so we were game to try them out.
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In short, they fit. Results may vary depending upon tire and suspension choices, but our particular H&R Sport Spring suspension and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (see sizing below) work just fine without rubbing under any conditions we’ve experienced thus far. The wheels fill out the wheel wells impressively, while giving the flared allroad more of an RS 6 appearance. We’re most pleased with the look.

Worth noting, there are two different finishes for this wheel based on the numbers we found cast on the inside. Ours are the matte Titanium finish with machined faces. Going by the information found in the casting, there’s also a silver version but we have no experience with that.

Parts
  • 8T0601025DG - Wheel, Titanium Finish $969 ea. (quantity installed, 4)
  • 8T0601025DF – Wheel, Silver Finish, $969 ea. (quantity installed,  N/A)

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Tires: Michelin Pilot Super SportWhen it comes to our project cars, Fourtitude has developed a bit of an exclusive relationship with Michelin. The French tire manufacturer’s proficiency in motorsport is nearly unrivalled, and as a result it is standard fitment for cars like the multi 24 Hours of Le Mans winning R18 e-tron quattro, the R8 LMS in most series where another tire manufacturer isn’t spec, and an optional upgrade on the new second-generation Audi R8. In short, their tire technology suits the most intense Audis ever made for road or track, and that’s good enough reason for us to put them at the top of our tire short list. In this case, we decided to go with the much respected Z-rated Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer high performance tire.

When it came to size, we wanted a slightly more aggressive look so decided to experiment a bit. Stock fitment on the European market B8 RS 4 Avant is 265 30 20. Instead, we went with a more readily available 255 30 20. Effectively, this meant a slightly shorter sidewall, but we figured that would add to the look without sacrificing ride. We also figured it would minimize the chances of rubbing, though we've found we have enough clearance that we suspect 265 30 20s would also be no problem.
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Not surprisingly, we’ve been most pleased with our decision. The Pilot Super Sport is effectively Michelin’s top tier Max Performance offering, designed for optimum performance across both dry and wet weather applications. It does so by using an asymetric bi-compound tread rubber design that includes wet weather compound on the inner half and dry compound on the outer section. It is a trick design that is also highly effective.

Given our car calls the varied weather of Pennsylvania its home turf, we wanted something that’d handle wet surfaces as well as dry. Also given we have a set of dedicated snow tires, we weren’t afraid of running a so-called “Summer” tire that is designed with little concern with optimization for cold weather performance, allowing for a compound that is specifically designed for warmer weather. They’re not intended to be driven in snow or freezing conditions, and frankly the large wide contact patch would likely act as a ski regardless.

Our goal with Project B85 allroad is to have a high performance wagon that acts more as family car and king of curving roads. At the same time, it could see minimal track time, so the Pilot Sport’s ultimate street performance tire intentions that also come with a robust wear tendencies seemed perfect for the car.

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What’s the result? We’ve been nothing short of impressed with our new setup. The lower profile and larger wheels have cleaned up the cornering of the car quite a bit without sacrificing ride harshness. The allroad’s recent lower ride height combined with more aggressive wheels and tires reminds us of Audi’s RS-models that we’ve driven here and in Europe. In other words, it’s highly livable in the real world and not just cool looking for shows or sticky as hell for track days. Also, even with the added weight of larger wheels and friction of larger and stickier tires, we’re still able to manage 29 miles per gallon on the highway with two people in the car and speeds around 70 mph. In short, we couldn’t be happier.

Parts
  • Michelin Pilot Super Sport 255 30 Tires (4 each). More Information at Michelin & Tire Rack

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What’s Next?Waterfest is little over a week away, and so we’ve got a quite a few more upgrades about to go on the car. In addition to a collection of cockpit enhancements and a few exterior upgrades, we’ve also got some performance plans both for stopping and going. Stay tuned as Project B85 allroad goes even further faster over the next few weeks.