ABT recently offered us the chance of a lifetime. A European road trip from their Kempten, Germany factory across alpine roads to the Hungaroring for the DTM. Our trip would allow us to experience four of their finest road cars on the finest alpine roads; the ABT RS6, ABT RSQ3, ABT S3 and ABT S8.
Our trip started with a quick factory tour. ABT’s facility in Kempten is impressive. They work on both race cars and road cars, something we would experience throughout our trip. Unlike many other tuning companies, ABT enjoy a cordial relationship with Audi.
The company work almost entirely on Audi’s. The latest addition to their factory is a state of the art engine test centre. From here, engine modifications are tested to their limits to analyse any weaknesses before undergoing tests on the roads to check durability.
Another interesting point to emphasise is the fact that, whilst the Audi factory warranty is broken when ABT tuning is applied, ABT do offer a similar warranty for piece of mind. Audi appear to be very impressed by the Kempten company and we are told that a limited edition run of Audi-badged RSQ3’s are soon to leave the headquarters. A direct result of collaboration between ABT and Audi AG.
Other points of interest include a batch of ABT E-Caddy’s, electric powered Volkswagen Caddy’s, currently under construction for Deutsche Post. ABT will also be the only German team to take part in Formula E. So aside from road cars and race cars, the ABT team also lead with electronic components.
After our brief factory tour, we hit the road towards our lunch stop in Garmisch at the Skisprungschanze (an olympic ski-jumping hill). From Garmisch we head down, via Kitzbuhl in Austria towards our overnight stop in Zell am See. A drive of just over 300 km takes us into the heart of the Alps.
The ABT S8 was naturally the choice of car for the Autobahn’s and highway drives. The ABT S8, with 640 hp and a 280 km/h top speed, can keep up with the best of them. It actually felt surprisingly good on the mountain roads too. The biggest draw to this car over the others though is the inherent luxury of the package.
The second day is where the interesting drives start to take place. With ambitious plans, we start the day early. Our first waypoint is the Großglockner High Alpine Road. Rising to heights of 2,576 metres, it is the highest mountain pass in Austria. Built in the 1930’s, the Großglockner High Alpine Road is a simply stunning road with hairpins, steep elevation changes and stunning scenery.
Unfortunately it was pretty wet when we arrived. We felt lucky to have the Quattro drivetrain under the wheels. Our first experience on mountain roads saw us take the wheel of the ABT S3. The ABT S3 gets an extra 70 hp for its 2.5 litre 5-cylinder engine. Total power is therefore 370 hp and 460 Nm of torque.
Due to its size, the ABT S3 Sedan felt perfectly suited to the roads of the Großglockner. The ride quality and handling are good, although ABT have not done much work to the suspension. Choosing instead to add a set of their own design wheels. You can tell the ABT S3 apart from any other S3 by the characteristic fender vents, other than that, the modifications to this car are subtle.
We also got some time behind the wheel of the Audi RSQ3. For an SUV, the ABT RSQ3 is certainly very impressive. The standard Audi RSQ3 isn’t the most dynamic of driving machines. When we last drove it, the driving position seemed to ruin the experience a little and we felt it could do with more power.
While ABT have to make do with the driving position, the ABT suspension system really sharpens the handling and the added power makes a real difference. It made the RSQ3 a real exciting car to drive along the alpine passes. The 2.5 litre 5-cylinder engine gets a 100 hp power boost up to 410 hp with torque rising 110 Nm to 530 Nm. The ABT suspension system essentially lowers the ride height, adding a dynamic feel to the car. This car is also fitted with a new exhaust and a set of exterior modifications.
We didn’t stick around too long on the Großglockner as we needed to put some serious milage on the cars! Our next waypoint was the Austrian city of Vienna. Travelling along the highway, we used the opportunity to shoot some photos of the cars travelling in convoy.
Travelling in convoy was a fantastic experience, the cars got a lot of attention, especially in Hungary! We got thumbs up from so many drivers, leaving an impression with the ABT liveries and the insane sounds. We even picked up a number of other drivers along the way, expanding our ABT-Audi convoy!
We eventually left the highway, arriving late at our final destination, Budapest. Our road trip and visit to the city coincides with the Hungaroring DTM round. Having travelled over 600 km to get to Budapest, we were pretty tired. We took to our beds almost immediately, anxious to find out how ABT drivers would manage for the following day’s race.
DTM, as with all forms of professional racing, is challenging. The car ABT use is loosely based upon the Audi RS5, although the only component that remains unmodified is the Audi logo affixed to the front. The car costs close to 1.3 million euros to build.
The driver has very little to change from the inside of the car. The brake balance is the only option the driver needs to think about behind the steering wheel. The car doesn’t use any electronic aids either. To further complicate the DTM experience, drivers are only able to see the road surface 25 metres ahead to the front nose.
DTM drivers are real athletes. Endurance is key to racing an ABT DTM car. Temperatures behind the wheel can reach as much as 70 degrees. To compensate for the loss of fluids, each driver is allowed one litre of water to drink during race although he loses around three litres of sweat.
We saw four ABT cars compete at the Hungaroring. The best of the cars, with Spaniard Miguel Molina at the wheel, qualified third just behind two BMW’s. The race saw Molina manage to improve up to second while ABT cars also came in fourth, fifth and ninth. An outstanding result which bought the fight to BMW.
Once the race had finished we took a quick ride in the ABT RS6. First unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show 2014, the RS6 is easily the most impressive of the cars that formed our convoy. It also attracts the most attention, mainly due to the combination of insane speed, eye catching design and incredible sound. It literally terrorised the streets of Budapest!
The ABT RS6 gets ABT’s Power S update. Its 4.0 litre V8 engine rises from 560 hp up to 700 hp thanks to some electronic wizardry and a new exhaust system. The quoted zero to 100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds feels accurate. If that doesn’t excite you, the 320 km/h time probably will.
ABT revealed during our drive that they have over 200 orders for their RS6 kits, all with various levels of tuning. We’re not surprised, we absolutely loved it!
After the success of the weekend’s racing, it was time to head back towards Kempten once again. We would like to thank ABT for a fantastic weekend with some incredible cars!