Seasoned modifier Aaron McMahon has a new ride on the scene – a tuned Audi RS5. Resplendent in Military Green, it’s already torn down to Austria and blown Wörthersee apart, and now it’s on the hunt for fresh conquests…
Feature taken from Performance Audi. Words Dan Bevis Photos Mike Crawat
Some people have a natural affinity for modifying. We’re all into it, that goes without saying, but there’s a certain rarefied strand of DNA that exists within a chosen few individuals which means that they’ve got a good eye for a quality mod, the tenacity to carry it through to completion, and the eagerness to keep pushing on past what other people might see as perfection and a job done.
In the case of Aaron McMahon, this all manifests itself within the new-wave VAG stable; this Belfast-based enthusiast already has a string This one, however, is the big one. The crowning glory of his automotive adventures thus far, the RS5 is a mighty base to begin with when you’re tackling a project. After all, it’s a pretty bloody incredible thing in standard factory spec: you get a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 kicking out 444bhp, an 8-speed ZF ’box mated to the revered quattro system, and a frankly unnecessary 174mph speed limiter, which is surely just Audi themselves showing off. All the RS options are in place, from the sporty diff to the tuned suspension, plus there’s the option of Dynamic Ride Control and oodles of carbon fibre bits… how can this possibly be improved upon?
Ah, but Aaron has form here. He’s been doing this stuff since day one. “I’ve always had a passion for cars and modifying, from a very young age,” he assures us. “When I was sixteen I got my first car, a SEAT Léon which I slightly modified, and this was followed by a Mk5 Golf which was the car that introduced me to air-ride! Having sold both of these I upgraded to a Volkswagen CC, which ended up on 20” Rotiform splits and a full four-way hydraulic setup as well as a bunch of other custom mods. I attended a couple of indoor shows with the CC, but at this stage I was still only new to the whole modifying world…”
He was certainly building a head of steam though, there’s no denying that. Next in Aaron’s constantly shifting crosshairs was a brand new Mk7 Golf R; he was only planning a few minor mods to begin with, but we all know how that goes… fast-forward a couple of weeks and it was already exponentially changing; in the end, it was wearing a full C7 RS6 front brake setup with huge 395mm waved discs, along with 365mm RS7 waved rears. Also involved were a set of 20” Signature three-piece wheels, H&R Ultra Low coilovers, full custom retrim, a whole world of carbon fibre, and the thick end of 400bhp. So you’re starting to get an idea of Aaron’s modus operandi, right? This dude goes in all-guns-blazing, no half measures, and gets the job done.
“I just love the idea of completely revamping cars into something custom,” he grins. “After visiting and enjoying many shows in the Mk7 R, including Wörthersee, I decided it was again time to upgrade. There’d been another few cars on my mind, like an F80 M3, but after seeing the B9 RS5 I just fell in love with the shape! I started inquiring at the local Audi garage – Belfast Audi – and, after deciding on the full spec I wanted, I placed the order. I’ll be honest, it was the longest wait of my life – but it was well worth it.”
The spec he’s gone for is really quite impressive; as well as ticking the box for the Dynamic Ride Control, this RS5 is packing about £15k of factory options, including the full interior and exterior carbon fibre packs. An incredible package… but of course, this was just the beginning for Aaron. A man clearly unafraid of cocking a snook at his warranty in favour of killing the scene with yet another big-spec build.
“Again, much like with the Golf, my initial plan was to just do a few minor mods, nothing too crazy,” he says, fooling precisely no-one. “However, I was soon approached by Plush Automotive, who were interested in developing an air-ride system for the new RS5 platform and wanted to use my car as a prototype.” This was rather an involved process, as you’d expect of a fresh system being developed for a new-to-market car, and the RS5 ended up being over in England for around five months as the setup was finessed. What resulted was an air install featuring custom Bilstein shocks, AccuAir e-Level management, and integration of the Dynamic Ride Control system, which gets the car sitting pretty as well as working hand-in-hand with Audi’s own tech.
“The mods didn’t stop here,” he smirks. Of course not. By this point, we wouldn’t expect anything less. “I bought a set of 21” Rotiform OZT three-piece wheels, and had them rebuilt with all new barrels and hardware and refinished by the famous Wheel Unique – the best company about. I also added a custom valved cat-back exhaust system to really help that V6 find its voice.” Following this, Aaron turned his attention to the exterior; while the OEM carbon pack added plenty of accents in the lightweight weave, he wanted more – so into the mix were stirred a carbon front grille, ducktail spoiler, rear diffuser extensions, side extensions with spats, and a front splitter (which has now been smashed to bits on the autobahn – collateral damage, it’s all just battle scars). The clever Matrix LED headlights were also gutted by EM Tuning and de-chromed, then modded to incorporate changeable demon eyes and DRLs.
“These lights attract serious attention,” he says. “And as if the Nardo Grey paint I’d specced wasn’t cool enough, I decided to change it up again, bite the bullet and get a full wrap in 3M Matte Military Green. I’m extremely happy with the colour choice, and the quality of the work completed by VSM Graphics is top class! It’s my favourite mod on the whole car.”
It certainly takes a lot of chutzpah to go balls-to-the-wall on a brand new, high-end ride. But we’re now well aware that Aaron is very much of the mindset that you only live once, life is for living, and the brief flicker of time we have on this earth is way too short to drive boring cars. And we also know that he doesn’t just build his hot VAG to look pretty, he’s got high-octane fuel in his blood and there’s a reason for all this horsepower. Besides, the natural home for an RS Audi is on a derestricted section of the autobahn, isn’t it? Road trips are baked right into cars like this.
“I drove the Audi down to Wörthersee 2019, and to be honest with the standard of cars out there I was shocked at the amount of heads it turned – it was a big hit,” he smiles. This is testament to his vision as much as the quality of the build; the second-gen RS5 still isn’t a particularly common sight on the road, let alone one that’s been so extravagantly reimagined. “I have a few further mods planned for the car, including more graphics, more carbon, and some engine mods, but other than that I just plan to enjoy it from now on.”
You can read the subtext there, naturally. The enjoyment here comes as much from the modifying as the driving. And when this stuff’s in your blood, when you’re naturally compelled to do it by forces far stronger than logic or reason, there’s really only two ways this will go: reinvention, or rebirth. Either way, Aaron’s someone we ought to be keeping an eye on.
TECH SPEC TUNED AUDI RS5
Engine & transmission:
EA839 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, custom valved cat-back exhaust system, ZF 8-speed auto, quattro.
21” Rotiform OZT three-piece wheels with textured black faces, wet gloss lips and black chrome hardware, 265/20 Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, ABP (Air By Plush) suspension with bespoke Bilstein shocks, AccuAir e-Level and DRC.
Wrapped in 3M Matte Military Green (original colour: Nardo Grey), black decals and badges, carbon fibre front grille, custom carbon front splitter, side extensions with spats, rear diffuser add-ons and ducktail spoiler, OEM exterior carbon pack option, Matrix headlights de-chromed inside – customised with changeable demon eyes and DRLs.
OEM interior carbon pack option, steering wheel finished in carbon and Alcantara with red stitching, carbon seat side inserts, red seatbelts, custom Plush boot build.