Traditionally your first mods are the ones you want to see, or the ones that make a noticeable difference when under throttle. From wheels, lowering springs, and coilovers, to performance mods like cold air intakes, intercoolers, downpipes, exhausts, engine tuning, and other carbon fiber engine bay parts, you can get pretty deep in getting your car to put out a lot more power than stock. In most cases, straight line performance is unaffected by the extra power. The problems arise when you begin to carry that added power through corners, and that additional power becomes useless. On top of increasing the stress and wear on your chassis and suspension, the control you have over your vehicle becomes less and less.
While it may not be parts you see every day, your chassis components need upgrading to take advantage of your mods. It is these supporting mods that allow your car to perform at its best and work in harmony with the rest of your aftermarket components. Power only means so much, as long as you can keep your tires in contact with the road.
034 Motorsports carries the broadest range of uprated chassis and suspension components for VAG platforms, and their products carry a motorsports heritage and lengthy testing from road to track. For now we want to do a deep dive on a selection of 034 products for a B8.5 S4, and what their catalog is capable of with the platform.
Your car is designed to flex under pressure, if it were too stiff then it would result in an uncomfortable ride and increased road noise. With that being said, your car is designed to flex with its factory power. Points of focus when looking to reinforce are your control arms, sway bars, strut braces, and motor/transmission mounts. Additional bracing can be implemented as well to increase rigidity, and reduce overall chassis flex.
For the B8.5 platform, there are a variety of options for control arms and it really depends on your preferred use. The two kits to look at are the Full Control Arm Kit with Adjustable Upper Control Arms, or the standard Full Control Arm Kit, which will save you some cash but limit your personalization. Both of these options replace the 8 factory control arms which are an integral part of your car’s suspension. Uprated bushings and high quality ball joints mean that these components will last longer than OEM, and result in a more precise steering response and tighter handling. The difference speaks for itself, and you may not realize the delay in turn-in time until you experience it first hand, however your front end will feel tighter and more responsive to your inputs. The difference in the kits is the ability to fine tune your camber, had driven cars or track vehicles will definitely benefit from this as it allows you to dial in how you and your car are able to communicate, and especially helps fitment and response in lowered vehicles.
There is not much need for a front sway bar on the B8.5, although typically both front and rear are upgradable, with the purpose of reducing body sway and roll when turning aggressively. 034 claims that upgrading the front sway bar from stock can positively affect turn-in feeling but worsens the platform’s tendency to understeer at higher speeds by making the front too tight.
If you only plan for one chassis brace, the 034 Rear Sway Bar is the one you want. On top of reducing body roll, it will reduce understeer and help keep you in control of the car. Instead of feeling like the back end is something you are dragging along, off throttle oversteer and turn-in control is greatly improved, delivering a far more enjoyable experience across the board.
Chassis and Subframe Braces
Frame bracing can drastically affect the way the car feels under pressure, especially sideways flex and body roll. In a lot of performance vehicles you will see a strut brace under the hood, like the 034 B8 Front Strut Brace. Not only do these add a little flair under the hood, but they reduce sub frame flex and keep the front suspension working in harmony. Under heavy cornering this will drastically increase responsiveness and more precise, consistent feedback through the steering wheel. The B8 & B8.5 platforms also come with a steel stamped chassis brace, however these materials are by no means the best, they can hinder performance and are prone to flexing under a heavy load. The 034 X-Brace Chassis Reinforcement is a direct replacement for the OEM chassis brace, and crafted from billet aluminum it is a more sturdy option that will resist heavy load flex. This is probably the most overlooked, and can be installed in minutes. Your car will not see any difference in straight line comfort but under hard cornering the suspension will remain more in line, and keep the car pointing where you want it to go.
By no means is this an end all list, and there are a lot more small and affordable options for tightening up your ride. While every platform is a bit different, the 034 Motorsports brand is a great place to start for VAG vehicles. A few additional products we couldn’t go without mentioning are the Billet Aluminum Rear Subframe Mounts for the B8.5, as well as the Street Density Line Motor Mounts, and Street Density Line Transmission Mount for the B8.5 platforms. The latter two will make sure that your powerhouse is sitting tight, as any extra movement can create sway under hard cornering, acceleration, or deceleration.
While most of these mods are not one you would put at the top of your parts list, they are vital components in making sure your car is working as a whole. With increased power, the factory components are prone to more wear and tear, and there is a good chance that the added power is not translating to performance. For any questions on other platforms or options we highly recommend you speak to an XLR8 rep, you can email us any time with inquiries at Sales@XLR8.com and we would be happy to help find you the parts you need to get the most out of your ride.