New Shoes for Armin’s Audi S3, “Ella”
Approaching 12,000 miles on the odometer, Armin’s Audi S3 gets some new kicks with help from some old friends.
by Armin H. Ausejo by Armin H. Ausejo
Not long after introducing Ella as part of the NWMotiv family, I was already on a quest to find the perfect set of wheels for my 2015 Audi S3. I fully admit to being a wheel snob and I’m definitely not the type of person to do what everyone else is doing. I strive to be different and stand out in just about everything that I do; standing out with my cars over the years has definitely been no different. Maybe I should do something custom? Or maybe I should go with something tried and true? I searched far and wide, seeking advice from various friends and vendors, but nothing really struck me as being “the one.” After seeing a good number of fellow S3 owners getting new wheels, I decided it was time to just make a decision. Thanks to a bit of a kick in the ass from my fellow NWMotiv and Project One teammate Alan “Bringing The Thunder” Whitright, I was pointed back into the direction whence I came.
Alan is just as much a wheel snob as I am, and he happened upon a very unique finish of wheels when he attended SEMA 2013. Called “Dark Prism,” this wheel finish looked like an ordinary gunmetal grey from afar, but looking at the wheels from different lit angles, a rainbow of colors could be seen. Think of it as being similar to our NWMotiv “Oil Chrome” decals, but painted on a wheel under a clearcoat. It was a very limited finish offered only on certain wheels from one manufacturer, which happened to be one that I’ve been loyal to for over 12 years: Rays Engineering. Alan then pointed me in the direction of the Volk Racing G25, which was one of only two wheels offered by Rays Engineering that had a Dark Prism option. Looking into it more, they had a perfect fitment for my Audi S3: 19×8.5 +38. This would mean I could remove my spacers and the wheel would fit almost perfectly square (gulp) flush with fenders.
Immediately, I knew who I needed to contact. I shot an email off to my old friend, Steve Lim at Mackin Industries, the official importer of all Rays Engineering wheels in North America. Steve has always been a pleasure to work with, and before I knew it, I had a new set of wheels on order. I’ve been no stranger to Volk Racing’s wheel quality, having Volks on almost every car that I’ve owned, and I’m also no stranger to the wait time either. Ordered in early April, Steve finally let me know my wheels had arrived in the country during the first week of August. As you can see above, the Dark Prism color is like nothing else, and after putting the wheel on my bathroom scale, I’m was very happy to see that this one-piece forged monoblock wheel weighs only 18 pounds at 19×8.5. The only way I could be happier would be to get them mounted on the car as soon as possible!
Who else would I turn to, but Dion Spina at Achtuning? I knew for sure that the proper and functional tire size for my wheels was 245/35/19, so after going through a few different options, we decided on a set of Hankook Ventus V12 evo2. The max performance summer tires came highly recommended and were a great balance between price and performance. My appointment to get the wheels and tires mounted came soon enough, and as luck would have it, Western Washington would get hit with pouring rain and thunderstorms on the very same day. This made no difference to me (NWMotiv is #MadeInTheRain after all), and while I took a quick snap as the rain drenched me, I knew I had to wait a couple days for the sun to come out again before I could take some proper photos. In the meantime, the new Hankooks were a night and day difference compared to the stock Continental rubber. Not only did they grip better (even in the rain), but they weren’t anywhere near as noisy or felt as harsh over bumps. I already liked the ride and handling before, but with the new tires, it takes things to a whole different level of performance, especially for a daily driver.
I really could not be happier with this wheel and tire setup. The 245/35/19s are nice and square, truly complimenting the drop from the H&R Sport Springs without any need for spacers. The car handles better and feels more sure-footed, especially when going over bumps and uneven ground. Finally, the wheel color really sets the car off, being subtle enough not to be totally loud and in your face, but definitely noticeable and different from everything else. Many thanks again to Alan, Steve, and Dion for all of their help during the decision-making and purchasing processes. I already have my next mod on order, but it seems to be having some delays in shipping, so time will tell if and when it shows up.