words and photos: Gene Pascua
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q1_2022 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
Go low. It’ll be easy and straightforward. But I’d be like everyone else. I wanted to be Dffrent. I did the opposite and raised the bar. Literally raised it, exactly 3.25-inches.
This journey began three years after I purchased my 2015 A4 allroad. I never really had anything planned, not until I joined the NorCal B8 Club, later rebranded Audi Gruppe of Silicon Valley. It wasn’t until then that I wanted to modify my allroad, but did I want to go the same direction as everyone else?
I wanted struggle and the challenge. I went back to my roots; my off-road days growing up. I wanted to do off-road again and get dirty but could I do it with an allroad? I absorbed inspiration from vehicles in Dakar Rallies and modern-day overland builds. This was the direction but it hadn’t been done with the new generation of allroads.
I began off-roading on fire trails, beaches, dunes, and technical trails to see how the stock allroad fared. It did pretty well besides a few dings. The factory ride height is around 7-inches which wasn’t enough. I researched various suspensions, off-road builds, people’s experiences, and issues to seek a solution.
I began with the engine and went with APR’s Stage 2 E85 fuel setup. With the help of James Osborn from #BecauseBags, I made contact with APR who supplied a tune plus downpipes and intake. Now the allroad dynoed 330 hp and 365 lb-ft with E85 on stock wheels.
There was no off -the-shelf type lift suspension for the allroad, so I had to build a custom solution. I approached off-road shops in the Bay Area and no one wanted to touch it. Finally, Max at CA-Tuned’s off-road division agreed to take a look. He gave me suggestions for what was needed. Spacers in the front, lift springs in the rear, and extended strut towers. I had several other shops fabricate the components for me and 034 Motorsport supplied adjustable control arms. I was finally lifted.
It would take several months after the lift to get it dialed and stabilized. That first iteration gave me 2.5-inches more but was unstable to drive. From this time on I began work on my own suspension, learning on my own and from others. I got comfortable working on the components and finally got it dialed in at 1.7-inches of lift. The tires eventually gave me an extra 1.5-inches.
I’m creative and I’m picky as hell when it comes to design and aesthetic. Wheels will always set the look and direction for any vehicle. I’ve always liked Rotiform wheel designs and one particular design caught my eye. Their CCV-OR was exactly the look I wanted. With word getting around about my build, I was directed to JJ at Rotiform and Agron at Driver Supply. I had no knowledge of wheel specs and measurements so it was another challenge figuring that out myself.
Next came tires, specifically Toyo’s 235/65R17’s 4ply AT2 and later AT3s for off-road CUVs before they hit the market to be featured in one of their commercials.
During the period of waiting for the wheels, I began formulating a strategy to sustain this build entirely on sponsorships. The suspension alone has already maxed out my budget. Coming from a creative production and advertising design background, I had the knowledge of design proposal requests from marketing agencies I’ve worked for. I applied and translated that to the automotive industry and built my own media sponsorship deck to pitch to brands and products I wanted to collaborate with. By the time I received the wheels, I’d sent proposals to thirteen brands.
Three years later, I’ve been in many digital magazine features and mentions, featured in a Toyo commercial and as the first Audi in Tread Magazine that is predominantly trail rigs. It’s a snowball effect when you do it right, follow through with promises, and earn trust with brands. Sponsorships aren’t given out like candy and it takes a lot of work to accomplish and market your vision. There will be hits and misses; sometimes your build will not align with their brand and vision to appeal to their audiences. That is a whole different world if you aren’t a known builder but that is a story for another time.
As of now. the allroad is outfitted with Frontrunner Slimline II roof rack and outdoor accessories, GoFSR Evolution49 rooftop tent, Thule 8.5-foot awning, Dometic CFX3 55IM interior fridge, custom hatch rack by ThreeFive Customs, hatch rack panels and shovel by Agency 6, WeBoost cell antenna, H3R Performance exterior extinguisher, Pelican BX cargo cases, Borla touring exhaust, dual Odyssey Battery system powered by RedArc USA, and 10 Rigid Industries lights controlled by a SwitchPros controller. The allroad’s paint is protected by KPMF Stealth Tundra wrap that was installed by SS Customs. The majority of the build is 90 percent sponsored.
I am already in the process of my third suspension evolution, negotiating with a suspension brand to have a more stable and cohesive suspension kit. Although I am already due for a refresh, “Dffrent Allroad 2.0”, since things can get stale pretty quick if a project takes too long. Then again when are you ever finished with a build? It can be never-ending.
The one brand I still try to chip away at for recognition is Audi, and I’m still hoping they’ll be inspired and build an Overland Audi. One can dream.
The one take away from this unexpected rabbit hole of a journey is the people you meet along the way. Some have become close friends and I am thankful for that. There will always be more adventures in the future, people to meet, and quite possibly see the allroad on a streaming service under a show called Rogue Element. I hope my build inspires you to get lost out there in the wilderness. Go get dirty.