/ Words Davy Lewis / Photography AJ Walker
More power than an original Ferrari Enzo - MRC Tuning's original stealth bomber!
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS MRC TUNING S2
This stealthy looking S2 was the catalyst that led to #MRC-Tuning
being born, and now it’s been fully refreshed – with a monstrous 712ps (702bhp)
Always remember where you came from – that’s a phrase that you hear a lot in these celebrity obsessed times. From Hollywood stars that started out as waiters, to world champion boxers that used to clean cars for a living – it’s amazing how far you can come in life. But staying true to your roots isn’t easy. The pressures of success can change people – and not always for the better.
Having worked on performance car magazines for over 16 years, I’ve seen this happen many times over. Tuning enthusiasts grow into a commercial entity and become a bit ‘corporate’. They lose touch with the very people they should be appealing to. Which is a shame.
One company that has managed to grow, and stay in touch with the real Audi fans, is MRC Tuning.
Set up in 2005, MRC is the collaboration of S2 enthusiasts, Doug Bennett and Mihnea Cottet. As a regular on the well-respected S2forum.com, Doug reached a point where no one in the UK could modify his S2 to the level he wanted, so he decided to do it himself and get Mihnea over from Europe to tune it.
The 1995 Coupe, which he purchased in 2002, had already been converted to RS2 spec and was running around 330ps. With further work from Doug, it got to a K27 turbo level of tune, and offered a good balance of power and drivability. However, as is often the case with these things, once a business takes off, a tuner’s own car tends to get left behind.
And MRC Tuning has certainly taken off. These guys are now one of the world’s most respected performance Audi specialists, with a huge flow of S and RS models going through their Banbury workshop. Always at the cutting edge of Audi tuning, MRC has created the UK’s first 1000bhp RS6 C6; cracked the 200mph barrier in a B5 widebody and an R8 turbo at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground; and they continue to the lead the way with everything from B5 RS4s, through to the very latest RS6s.
Over the last 11 years, Doug has been fortunate enough to indulge his passion for fast Audis. His S4 widebody, R8 turbo and RS6 C6 have all been featured in #AudiTuner
and reinforce the fact that he’s an Audi enthusiast first and foremost. However, one car will always remain extra special.
“It’s the car I’ve owned the longest and will never get rid of,” confirms Doug. “It always gives me a buzz – from the old school lag of nothing – then bang – all the power and torque in a small power band,” he smiles.
Although the S2 was well cared for, it didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that befits an MRC staff car. So, when team member, Stuart Fourie, offered to carry out the custom fabrication necessary to take it to the next level, Doug didn’t hesitate. The S2 was officially ‘reborn’ in 2014, but it was only relatively recently that all of the finishing touches have been completed ready for a feature.
To the man in the street, it may look nothing special – just another mid-90s Audi. But those in the know will appreciate the latent violence that simmers just below the surface of this unassuming Coupe.
The current engine spec is a master class in how to achieve reliable, big power and, more importantly, immense torque, from the venerable 2.2-litre ABY lump. At 2bar of boost, this 20v turbo delivers a sledgehammer blow of 712ps and 717Nm – more than a Ferrari Enzo.
However, don’t confuse this with the linear and relentless surge of torque that you get with a modern RS6 running similar power. In the S2, it’s much more aggressive, with the power coming in with a bang. There’s nothing progressive about this thing. It has a very old school feel – an almost Group B savagery – that is guaranteed to shock the unprepared. In fact, at last year’s AudiTuner Expo, Stuart brought the car along to display, and his mate, who was riding shotgun, recalled how he’d almost been sick when the boost kicked in on the journey to Donington. This sort of animal is, of course, not for everyone. But when you spend each and every day tuning and testing some of the most powerful Audis in the world, you need something a bit special to get your own kicks.
The engine itself is a work of art. Dominated by the big external wastegate and GTX3582 turbo, it looks as if it just came out of some special projects division at Renn Sport. Everything, from the black crackle finish on the cam cover and inlet manifold, through to the shiny alloy goodies (even the clips and hoses look immaculate), it’s clear to see a hell of a lot of care has gone into this engine bay.
The prodigious power is transferred via a B5 S4 6-speed gearbox, which is mated to a strong, 6-puck Sachs clutch and solid flywheel. It’s a tried and testing combination, that’s able to handle the immense force created with such a powerful 20v turbo. Talking of which, it doesn’t half sound good.
A stock 5-pot is a very sonorous thing to behold, but this is on an entirely different level. It’s part jet fighter, part Group B rally car – you really need to hear it being driven in anger to appreciate it. It chuffs and snorts in a real old school fashion – there’s no modern Audi noise suppression here – and it’s all the better for it.
The whole car has a very raw feel to it. In this digital world where everything from the weight of the steering, to the firmness of the dampers, the speed of the gear changes to the sensitivity of the throttle can all be controlled by a computer; this is a very analogue beast. You get in, turn on the ignition, put it into gear – and drive the bugger.
Aside from the specialist fabrication work to the exhaust, intercooler, catch can and breathers (all thanks to the talented Stuart), the rest of this S2 is dripping with tuning goodies, but as with all MRC projects, everything is fitted with performance in mind first and foremost. The chassis, in particular, has received lots of attention to ensure the power can be controlled and corners attacked with aplomb. From the #AP-Racing
6-pots nestled behind the gorgeous BBS CH alloys (which look like they were made for the S2), to the H&R coilovers and uprated ARBs, this thing is ready to rock whenever you need it to. Not wishing to spoil the fantastic 90s styling of this curvaceous Coupe, Doug has been careful to add only OEM parts to give it a little lift. The front end has been treated to genuine RS2 door mirrors, plus grille and front bumper, which look both more aggressive and affords better airflow to the hard worked engine. The rear end simply wears a neat alloy MRC badge – there’s not even a clue that this is an S-model Audi.
Inside, you’ll find a set of factory optional RS2 leather seats. They have the creases and patina you’d expect from a car made in 1995, but they’re all the better for it. In fact, the whole of the cabin has that certain feel and even smell of a mid-90s performance Audi. It feels very solid and has real character – something that’s arguably missing on the latest crop of S and RS models. It’s part of the reason that S2s, along with RS2s, B5 S/RS4s and C5 RS6s are still so well loved by enthusiasts.
So there we have it. This is kind of Doug’s life’s work. He’s owned the car since 2002 and it’s the one he’ll never let go. Considering the amount of unbelievably quick and desirable Audis this man has access to, it speaks volumes about what this S2 means to him. From humble beginnings – the car that started it all.
Top: You’d never guess it had over 700bhp. Below: Doug’s other ‘toy’ see the RS2 next issue.
Engine 2.2 ABY overbored, uprated rods and REC pistons, ported head with oversized valves and lightweight valvetrain, #Wagner
inlet manifold (modified for throttle body to fit at 90deg), 850cc #Siemens
injectors, High Octane tubular exhaust manifold, #Garrett-GTX3582R-turbo
turbo, HKS wastegate, stock ECU with 4bar map sensor, #Bosch-413
fuel pump, custom intercooler, full custom exhaust, custom catch can and breathers through brace bar, #MRC-Tuning-Stage-3
Power 712ps and 717Nm at 2bar / 627ps and 685Nm at 1.65bar
Transmission Audi S4 B5 gearbox, #Sachs
6-puck clutch with solid flywheel
6-pot calipers with Phaeton discs
Rear: VRS Porsche 4-pots and Brembo handbrake calipers
coilovers, RS2 front #ARB
, Whiteline rear ARB, #Powerflex
Wheels 19in #BBS-CH
with 235/35 Yokohama tyres
Interior Factory optional RS2 #Recaro
seats, RS2 steering wheel, boost and EGT gauges, RS4 Alcantara gearknob, RS2 dash and aux gauges
Exterior RS2 front bumper, RS2 wing mirrors, RS2 grille, MRC badge
Contacts and thanks MRC Tuning www.mrctuning.com, Stuart, Chris and Mihnea for helping look after it over the years, S2forum.com, Dhyllan at Automotive Addiction for the wheel refurbishment
Top: RS2 seats were a factory option Above: Gauges in custom vent housing.
Above: Interior is solid and has that special 90s feel to it.
“It’s part jet fighter, part Group B rally car – you really need to hear it driven in anger...”
GTX3582 turbo supplies ample boost. Catch can and breathers are bespoke items. Custom MRC Tuning intercooler.
Left: AP Racing 6-pots and 19in #BBS
alloys – perfect Main pic: Not even an S2 badge to give the game away...
“It’s the car I’ve owned the longest and will never get rid of”