QSTuning’s Alex Collins represents a fresh generation of young sports car enthusiasts with his hugely capable, APR-fettled TTS. One thing’s for certain: the future’s bright for sporty Audis…
When most of us here in the Performance Audi office were edging towards the age where we were allowed to finally take our driving tests, the poster cars you’d find covering our bedroom walls consisted of the likes of boxy Peugeot 205 GTIs, Vauxhall Astra GTEs and of course, the Audi Ur-Quattro. Isn’t it amazing, then, that just a couple of short decades later Audi now offers over double the power and a 0-60mph time that’s slashed by more than half of what most of these ageing beasts have to offer with its modest mid-range coupé – the TTS?
Alex Collins here may still be too young to order a Margarita in Michigan, but he’s already cashed in on just what an epic time 2018 is proving to be if you’re into your fast, affordable motors, by snapping up and tuning his very own example of a new TTS rocket ship. But growing up with the founder of the legendary tuning outfit QSTuning, Kim Collins, as his father, it was always pretty inevitable this success story would pan out in the way it has done so far…
You see, dad Kim’s been successfully tweaking Audis in his well-known West Sussex workshop for over two decades now; building up a rather unbeatable reputation by offering big-performance in-house solutions for Ur-Quattros, RS6s and everything in between. “I’d always fancied a TT, but had trouble with insurance when I first passed my test,” he admits, explaining how something a little sportier and more aesthetically impacting out of the box was his ultimate dream. “I eventually found this perfect, nearly new ‘16 TTS so bit the bullet and bought it back in the autumn of 2017.”
Now working full-time for QSTuning as the main man in the thriving parts sales division, Alex had become more than a little clued up on current performance tuning trends for the latest fleet of hot Audis out there. The stunning Glacier White coupé from VAG’s celebrated MQB platform came with minimal miles, some tasty options, and (a first for Alex) a futuristic S-tronic dual-clutch ‘box. “I couldn’t help but think that it was so slow at first!” he laughs, a surprising reaction for a fresh driver with a brand new TTS, but then again, there’s not many young lads like Alex here. “It therefore stayed standard for a whole four days…”
“It’s my first proper sports car, so the plan was to never go too far with it,” he continues, outlining how the plan would involve exploiting that famously tuneable 306bhp 2.0-litre EA888 lump up front, without initially tinkering with the its internals or the IHI turbocharger that comes from the factory. Still, even with simple bolt-on bits and a software update, he knew all too well just how epic these machines can be…
First up came a Stage 1 tune for both the engine and gearbox from APR after just a week of ownership. This was swiftly followed by a host of turbo-based modifications that had proven themselves time and time again on countless QSTuning customer cars, such as an APR intercooler and turbo inlet, as well as a premium RacingLine turbo muffler delete kit.
With a custom 3in exhaust system and RacingLine cold air intake kit also making an appearance, Alex soon thought it was time for a more comprehensive Stage 2 tune on the engine’s brain, which returned a mightily impressive 421bhp and 418lb ft of torque when tested on QSTuning’s in-house dyno.
“It’s a much different sensation to the S1; it’s far more efficient off the line with its launch control and the semi-auto gearbox,” Alex tells us as he takes us for a spin, the car feeling genuinely rapid while retaining that no-nonsense linear pull we’ve become used to from these new-age Quattro monsters, even though we were faced with some of Britain’s finest rain showers.
By turning off all the electronical aids, however, Alex is keen to demonstrate how the car does offer a window of rear-biased playfulness that you might not expect from a clinical 4WD package, all tied together with that frankly awesome crackling soundtrack to boot, of course.
It may still be on factory alloys for now (when they look as good as these ‘Star’ five-spokers, it’s a mystery why you’d bother changing them for anything else really), but there’s plenty of well-thought-out changes lurking underneath the car to help manage the extra power that’s now available. Ditching the modest standard brakes, Alex has replaced the anchors on all four corners with huge stoppers from none other than an RS7, which means that chunky 6-pot calipers and downright enormous 390mm rotors have now been adapted to fit and wedged under the front wheels, promising to be able to handle a lot more potential performance upgrades in the future.
Retaining OEM levels of quality are the upgrades on the car’s suspension system, with Alex aiming straight to the top with a set of KW’s Dynamic Damping Control coilovers (DDC ECU).
While most aftermarket suspension usually spells the end of any trick electronic functions that come as standard on a car, this kit comes with a heap of electrical gubbins that means the car’s driver-controlled adaptive damper features remain (with ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ settings controllable from either the KW dial in the car, or even on Alex’s iPhone), with the added benefit of it now riding on a set of track-focused KW shocks and springs to keep things in check at all times.
It’s a testament to just how good this car performs in its current setup that Alex’s plans for it in the near future revolve solely around a few cosmetic tweaks to make it look a little more personal to him. Because he may be relatively new to the world of performance car ownership, but he’s used his vast knowledge built up from his day job to create an extremely effective package here that promises to provide endless amounts of fun for the coming months on both road and track. Looks like Alex has a pretty exciting future ahead of him…
Words / Photos Sam Preston / Adam Walker Performance Audi Magazine UK