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The Audi A3 was first introduced in 1996 and is still being produced today. Since its inception, there have been 4 generations: 8L A3 (1996-2005), 8P A3 (2005-2013), 8V A3 (2014-2021), & 8Y A3 (2022-Present). Since there have been four generations spanning almost 3 decades, you can guess that there have been many engines as well. A high level of all the engines include: a 1.6L, 1.8L, 1.9TDI, 1.2 TFSI, 1.4 TFSI, 1.6 FSI, 1.8 TFSI, 2.0 FSI, 2.0 TFSI, 2.5 TFSI, 3.2L, 1.6TDI, 2.0TDI, 30TFSI, and even more. The first two generations were built on the Volkswagen Group A platform, while the latter generations were built on the Volkswagen MQB platform.
Ignition Coils & Spark Plugs
Before going into the mods list, we want to shortly speak on the importance of fresh ignition coils and spark plugs. Believe it or not, worn ignition coils or spark plugs (over 20,000 miles) can severely dampen the engine’s performance. If you plan on modding your A3, which is probably why you’re here, you will want to get aftermarket spark plugs and ignition coils. The reason being is the factory coils and spark plugs, are meant for factory engines. Once an engine starts getting modified, the effectiveness of factory coils and plugs diminishes unless you are just looking to do bolt-ons.
How to Make Your Audi A3 Faster
Before getting into the A3 mod list, since there are four different generations, we want to specify that we are focusing on the 8V A3 generation. So if you happen to have another generation and are looking for mods specific to that generation, then let us know in the comments and we’ll assist in any way we can! Now, to make your 8V A3 FWD faster, you will need to add these aftermarket Audi A3 Mods:
- Catback Exhaust
1. Audi A3 ECU Tune
The biggest bang for your buck when it comes to modding an engine is going to be an aftermarket flash tune or an ECU upgrade. We personally see tunes as great foundations for future A3 mods. Tunes do not just offer power benefits, they also adjust fueling, AFRs, boost targets, and over make the engine run more efficiently. Factory tunes are designed for a comfortable drive, not aggressive.
When it comes to tunes, there are many options to choose from: flash, piggyback, ECU unit, and more. There are also many different aftermarket brands that offer upgraded ECUs for an 8V A3. Our personal favorite is the piggyback JB4 that Burger Motorsports offers. Before going into the benefits of the JB4, let’s explain what a piggyback tune is. It is essentially a chip that plugs directly into the ECU tricking the factory tune into more power. It alters ignition timing, increases boost, adjusts AFRs, and more. There are multiple reasons why we believe the JB4 is our favorite: offers up to 8 different tuning maps, it doesn’t rewrite the factory tune, won’t void the vehicle’s warranty, is not VIN locked, it is able to read fault codes and more.
Audi 8V A3 Tune Power Gains: 45hp & 45b-ft tq (Up to 90hp & 70lb-ft of torque with the right supporting mods)
2. Audi A3 Intake
After purchasing a tune, we believe the next step is an aftermarket intake. This is a hot topic when it comes to modding vehicles because many people try to justify spending a few hundred dollars on an aftermarket air intake unit, when they could just drop in a high-performance filter. We push for an upgraded air intake unit because it has far more benefits than just simply dropping in an upgraded filter to the factory airbox. Before going into the benefits, an air intake simply brings outside air into the vehicle’s intake manifold. A factory air intake is far more restrictive when it comes to bringing air into the engine. Especially, if you are trying to get more power. The more power that is produced, the more air the engine needs.
Aftermarket intakes may only add 3-5 whp, but that’s not where the major benefits come from. Aftermarket intakes bring in more than 30% more air than the factory intake. When paired with a tune, an intake alone can add up to 10-20hp and the turbo will run more efficiently with the added air. Also, it makes a pretty sweet whooshing noise in the engine bay while accelerating.
Open Air vs. Closed Box Air Intakes
Now when it comes to aftermarket intake options, you will more than likely run across an open-air and a closed box air intake. We’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons of both to assist you in your decision. An open air intake is what people are more familiar with because it is exposed in the engine bay. Closed box air intakes are put into a closed box so the intake is not bringing in hot air.
Open air intakes will typically yield higher airflow and tend to look better in an engine bay. However, closed box intakes will bring in colder intake temps, but less air. In our opinion, since the air being brought in by the intake goes through the intercooler prior to entering the turbo, cooler intake temps from a closed airbox intake won’t make much of a difference. Therefore, our choice is open air intakes since they yield more air, which in turn yields more power, and look better exposed in the engine bay.
Our pick is Integrated Engineering when it comes to an air intake for the A3. This setup features 10hp gain with tuning, 5″ air filter, perfect direct fitment, and provides a great aesthetic in the engine bay. IE products are always high-quality products at a fraction of what the competition charges.
Price: $379.99 + Free Shipping
3. Audi A3 Downpipe
A downpipe is by far the best component to upgrade in a factory exhaust system. It is the pipe that connects the turbocharger to the rest of the exhaust system. Typically the downpipe will have a catalytic converter that dramatically reduces airflow and power out of the factory. It also produces higher backpressure and increases turbo lag. If paired properly with an ECU tune and intake, a downpipe could add up to 20hp, which isn’t bad! If you are someone that is trying to push past stage 1, most tunes will require an aftermarket downpipe.
An aftermarket downpipe will reduce turbo lag, produce a nice sound, reduce backpressure, and produce more power. Now, depending on where you reside, you can go with a catless or high-flow catted downpipe. It all depends on the emissions laws where you are located. If emissions are strict, maybe the high-flow cat is the way to go unless you know a mechanic that will pass your inspections. A catless downpipe will be the least restrictive, however, a high flow catted downpipe is a solid second option if emissions are strict.
Our choice is a high-flow catted downpipe from Unitronic. It features 3″ tubing, 200-cell high flow catalytic converter, locked v-band rotation, heat shield, and more at a reasonable price. Unitronic has always been a great go-to for aftermarket exhaust parts.
Price: $799.99 + Free Shipping
4. Audi A3 Intercooler
Intercoolers, like intakes, will always be a heavily debated topic for aftermarket purposes. To start, don’t get an aftermarket intercooler if you are solely looking for performance gains. They can add a few hp, but they are best from an efficiency standpoint, especially if you are looking to take your A3 past Stage 1.
How do they make your car more efficient? Well, a factory intercooler can only reduce intake temperatures so much before they get overwhelmed and heatsoak presents itself. Factory intercoolers are sufficient enough for factory conditions. Once modifications start getting added, the engine becomes hotter and needs more air, which leads to the factory intercooler becoming overwhelmed and power starts to taper off. An aftermarket intercooler is not only bigger so it most likely won’t get overwhelmed, but it will maintain intake temps for steady power over time.
It may not be the biggest bang for your buck if you are looking to do a few bolt-ons, but once you get to stage 1 and stage 2, you will notice a difference.
We’re featuring ECS Tuning’s very own intercooler because they have proven to put time and effort into R&D. This intercooler provides 90°F lower intake temps, 22% more efficient, & 20whp and 18lb-ft of torque at a fraction of the price of the competition.
Price: $654.95 + Free Shipping
5. Audi A3 Catback Exhaust
Last but not least is an aftermarket exhaust. To be honest, an aftermarket exhaust does not supply very much performance gains to justify the cost. However, everyone loves a deep aggressive-sounding vehicle, right? On top of sound, an aftermarket exhaust slightly reduces backpressure. There are many aftermarket brands out there that produce different sounding exhausts for the A3.
Before going into Borla, this catback exhaust system ONLY fits the Quattro® version of the 8V A3. Borla is an aftermarket that has been around for a while and is well known for producing deep aggressive-sounding exhausts that turn heads. This system not only sounds good, but it also looks good with its single 3.50″ stainless steel tips.
Conclusion – Audi A3 Mods
Again, all of the mods listed above are for the 8V A3 2.0T engine. If you are looking for any mods for a specific engine or generation, reach out in the comments and we’ll assist you! Although we don’t have exact hp numbers with all of the above mods attached, you can expect at least a 70hp jump. If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck with just a few mods, we would suggest a tune, intake, and downpipe. Happy modding and let us know what you have done to your A3!
If you want to read more Audi content, here’s a post on The 5 Best Audi A4 B9 Performance Mods.