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Road Test: MTM A1 Nardo Edition
MTM surprised the world this year with their record breaking MTM A1 Nardo Edition. At the Nardo highspeed circuit in Southern-Italy it set a top speed record of an unbelievable 324km/h. MTM invited us to join them in Germany for two days and hit the road with the unique MTM A1 Nardo Edition.
The first thing you will notice when you see the MTM A1 Nardo Edition parked outside the MTM Headquarters is the distincive MTM livery that we saw on some of their latest creations including the MTM RS6 Clubsport that we drove in Monte-Carlo in May. But apart from the livery this car is still undeniable recognizable as an A1. When you open the bonnet its a completely different story, the regular engine has been swapped with a 2.5 liter five-cylinder engine from the TT-RS. This engine in stock condition produces a very cool 340hp. But this wasn’t enough to take the record at Nardo so the MTM engineers, under supervision of company founder and CEO Roland Mayer, have lifted the output of the five-cylinder turbocharged engine to a whopping 500hp.
Taking the engine from the TT-RS and lifting it into the Audi A1 was just the beginning of this engineering challenge. The Audi A1 remains front-wheel drive which means the front wheels and the drivetrain had to cope with 500hp and 600Nm of torque. To help, MTM mounted a limited slip differential and six-speed manual gearbox.
Another essential aspect to make the MTM A1 Nardo Edition work is grip, no tyre on the market in the size required for the A1 would offer the levels of grip required by MTM. So MTM got in touch with Michelin who developed special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres for the MTM A1 Nardo Edition in the dimension 235/30 x 19 inch. These tyres have proven to be vital for the success of the MTM A1 Nardo Edition at this years Nardo highspeed test.
Inside the MTM A1 Nardo Edition the rear seats are replaced with a flat open space to reduce weight and the standard Audi seats have been replaced with lightweight carbon fiber Recaro sport seats. Features like the air conditioning, navigation and entertainment system have remained untouched. The weight of the MTM A1 Nardo Edition comes in at around 1,300kg compared to 1,150kg for the normal A1 with a 1.4 liter TFSI engine.
As soon as you fire up the engine with the start button, the MTM A1 Nardo Edition treats you to the full bodied sound of the five-cylinder enhanced by the MTM sport exhaust. The exhaust tips are finished in a striking orange colour and carry the MTM logo on them. Leaving the town of Wetstetten, the home of MTM, we headed for the Audi Forum in nearby Ingolstadt to draw a comparison. On the way to Audi we were surprised by the tremendous grip of the front wheel drive 500hp A1. It has to be said the roads are dry and conditions perfect but even in first and second gear under hard acceleration the tyres just rip up the asphalt and the traction control light blinks only now and then in first gear. 0-100km/h can be done in just 4.5 seconds, which is a huge leap forward from the 8,9 seconds it takes a normal A1 to reach 100km/h from standstill.
When we arrived at the Audi Forum we were greeted by the full range of current RS and R models, from the TT-RS and RS6 to the R8 V10 Spyder. We park the MTM A1 Nardo Edition next to the R8 V10 Spyder and it doesn’t take long before a crowd gathers around the little MTM rocket. Nearly everybody seemed to know the MTM A1 Nardo Edition and its record breaking top speed. After half an hour of chit-chat and answering questions about the car we had to make our way through the crowd and continue our road test.
Our next stop was a small town located near the A9 autobahn between Nuremberg and Munich. The perfect opportunity to experience what the car was made for. In Bavaria it generally doesn’t take long to see another sports car on the road and only minutes after we entered the A9 towards Munich we were overtaken by a Porsche 911 Carrera S, the sports car benchmark from Zuffenhausen. We go in pursuit and within moments we are on the 911s tail. The Porsche driver, clearly surprised by the A1 in his rear view mirror, puts his foot down at a clear bit of the three lane autobahn in an attempt to loose us but without luck. At the next clear stretch he lets us pass with a look on his face that balances respect and confusion. He tries to pursue, but the MTM A1 is simply too quick for this 911. When the needle on our speedometer approaches the 300km/h we can only recognize the 911 in mirror by its xenon lights.
While our photographer is shooting the MTM A1 Nardo Edition at our photo shoot location we think back about what just happened and conclude that this has to be the reason to buy an MTM A1 Nardo Edition. MTM transformed it from an ordinary city car to an Autobahn warrior that surprises and defeats nearly everything it comes up against. On the way back to the MTM headquarters we follow B-roads through open fields and over green hills, again the A1 feels right at home on the fast and smooth surface of the German roads.
The MTM A1 Nardo Edition is no longer a dull city car but a true autobahn racer with its 500hp. The front wheel drive systems offers tremendous grip in dry conditions thanks to its limited slip diff and special Michelin tyres. Most importantly the MTM A1 Nardo Edition offers amazing performance, great sound and lots of fun. The only down sides would be the price of about 100,000 Euros (excluding taxes) and its limited use in bad weather conditions. But to counter the latter MTM is working on a 4WD A1 Nardo Edition with similar output. Both the two wheel and four wheel drive versions are limited to ten pieces world wide.
[Photography by Simon Muhm]