It’s often difficult for a second act to follow a legend, and that’s just what the C4 S4 had to do when it launched for U.S. customers in 1992. The Type 44 was already a fan favorite before the 20V version appeared here briefly for the 1991 model year, with wider flared track, bigger brakes, and more power. To answer fans, Audi introduced an even more potent version with the S4; even bigger wheels, lower suspension, and a few more horses were encased in a thoroughly modern shape, yet one that was easily recognizable to fans of the brand. With a reputation for smooth power delivery and still the market cornered on all-wheel drive performance luxury vehicles, Audi’s new S4 sold out almost immediately in a period when the European makes had difficulty moving their expensive wares.
But the Type 44 still held one advantage over its replacement; an optional fifth door. While the Avant version of the new 100 was available immediately, there was no range-topping S4 wagon brought here. That was finally remedied with the relaunch of the now renamed S6 Avant for 1995. With smoothed out bumpers, revised passenger mirror, rolling changes such as new Speedline Avus 6-spoke wheels replaced the Fuchs that the S4 wore, and headrests became closed. There were more changes with the ‘95.5’ model; the infrared remote locking became radio frequency and the B-pillar receiver disappeared; so, too, did the option to lock the rear differential yourself, as Audi opted to work in an electronic differential lock utilizing the ABS speed sensors rather than a physically locking rear end.
These were really only minor changes to the recipe, which at its roots remained a fan fantasy. The traditional inline-5 that had hung out of the nose of the high-end Audis was still there, with its dual-cam head augmented by electronic fuel injection and electronic boost control. The turbo spun up quickly and had an overboost function, giving drivers 227 horsepower and 258 lb.ft of torque to be mastered solely by a manual transmission with Torsen center differential. Form-fitting electric sport seats kept front passengers firmly planted in place through the prodigious grip generated by the meaty 225 section tires. Combined with the prodigious space the Avant offered families and the ability of these cars to eat up highway miles with aplomb regardless of weather, not to mention the incredible tuning potential of the AAN 20V turbo, they’ve become highly sought steeds with a very limited pool of around 300 originally imported:
If Sunday’s A4 represented the new wave of Audi products, the C4 S6 was the end of the decade and a half dominance of the turbocharged inline-5 in the brand’s marketing. True, it continued on in other parts of the world a bit longer, but the writing was on the wall and the 1995 model year was the last in the American market. There’d be a big gap until the next S model launched in the U.S., which helped to solidify the legendary status of these stealthy super-sedans. Since there was no immediate replacement for half a decade, the S6 maintained its top-trump status among four-ring fans for longer than it probably would have been expected to.
The result of that was that they retained a strong fan base of owners and many more who wished, but could not afford, to grab one. As soon as they were out of warranty (if not before, in some cases), the wick began to be turned up – and those that know the AAN know that there’s a lot of wick there to burn. In recent years, the wave of electronic fuel injection tuning and aftermarket support has not waned but grown for these cars; like German Supra Turbos, they’re the evergreen forced-induction chassis you just never tire of seeing. Today’s example is no exception to the rule, and with 500 horsepower and a host of high-dollar upgrades, it’s ready to embarrass much newer metal.
Yesterday on our Facebook page, I asked whether Craig’s 500E was more desirable than the S4 I wrote up earlier in the day. The response was pretty overwhelmingly in favor of the W124, even though the S4 undoubtedly represented a better condition car for less money. Well, the C4 isn’t going to give up without a fight, because there was one pretty serious trump card that the platform offered compared to its Stuttgart-based rival; you could get a wagon:
Though they may not generate the gasps and pleasure groans of the RS models Craig and Andrew wrote up last week among enthusiasts outside of the brand, classic Audi fans in the U.S. still regard the original S4 and S6 one of the best models produced by the company. Indeed the S6 Avant has gained notoriety as a “Holy Grail” for fans of the marque here, as it offered the ultimate development of the C4 chassis and inline-5 coupled to analogue all-wheel drive offered in this market. Only a few hundred of these wagons made it here, increasing the mystique and desirability of the package. Both of today’s examples are presented in the defacto signature color of the C4, Emerald Green Mica (Smaragdgruen Pearl) with Ecru leather and both have been turned up a notch from stock. The first example has all the wizz-bang completed, while the second has been maintained and is ready for further upgrades. Which is the one you’d like?
Certain cars have a few known issues or subjective desires when considering their value. Talk about a 500E and the wiring harness comes up. Mention a 996 non-turbo and instantly people start shouting “IMS” even if they don’t know what it means or what it does. And every time I mention anything about an E46 M3 the first question is instantly SMG related. Those are certainly all important and relevant factors in determining the value of their respective models. But when it comes to the S6 Avant, for me the first question when determining value is “Does it run?”. And the answer, which is almost invariably yes, almost certainly affirms the value. As with their 200 20V quattro grandfather I looked at last night, the S6 Avant has a cult following and of the few hundred that were imported most are well used by this point. But they were well built cars that shrug off improbably high mileage such that the expectation when looking at one is that the odometer probably reads north of 200,000. Properly maintained and modified, they are a package without peer:
Why does Audi no longer offer this package? They’ve got the technology, certainly, with a stellar inline-5 in the new 2.5 liter turbocharged unit featured in the RS3 (and previously in the TT RS). They even still offer a manual in the S4, and though the company refuses to bring it here in anything other than allroad form they still make an Avant version. So why not combine them? They’d make an instant fan favorite, as all of the S4 and S6 Avants have been highly sought both when new and as second or third hand used cars. In the likely absence of that ever occurring, today’s example is a great representation of what many consider to be the highlight of the both Audi’s engineering and the most desirable package outside of perhaps the original Quattro:
In yesterday’s S4 post, I covered many of the special items that made the ’92 model unique for the U.S. market; in fact, I said that in many ways it was the most highly sought of the C4 models. Well, that probably was a bit of overstatement in at least one regard, because while it may be true for sedans for many the Avant model from 1995 was much more special. 1994 to 1995 saw some major changes for the C4; the most obvious being the model designation change from S4 (1991-1994) to S6 (1995-1997). European models had some additional drivetrain options that weren’t available in the U.S., and indeed the Avant had previously been available in S4 form, but the 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5 carried over largely unchanged into 1995. The big news was the addition of the Avant to the U.S. lineup; at the time, as expensive as an Audi got here. There was also the obvious external refresh; smooth body-colored bumpers and wider side trims eliminated the rubberized black moldings. The hood and lights were lightly re-sculpted too, along with the change (rolling, for some models) from the Fuchs-made 5-spoke alloys to the Speedline-made 6-spoke Avus wheels which would be the signature S-wheel for the next decade. Gone were two staples of the Audi lineup from the 1980s – Procon 10, the seatbelt pre-tensioning safety system Audi highly marketed in the late 1990s disappeared with little fanfare, but also, perhaps more strikingly, S cars would no longer be branded with “quattro” badges – a change that would carry on nearly until today’s models, where models like the RS7 re-introduced it in the grill. Inside minor changes were introduced; a revised dashboard, shift knob, along with the introduction of the most notable change (once again, rolling) to a 3-spoke sport steering wheel. It was a tremendous amount of minor changes that in sum resulted in a slightly different feel for the S6; slightly more polished and grown up, carrying the new design language for Audi that would remain for the next decade. Audi wasn’t done, though, because in “1995.5” Audi once again changed several items on the then-still-new S6. This included a major change moving forward – the elimination of driver control of the rear differential, a hallmark of Audis since the introduction of the original Quattro. Audi opted for an “electronic differential lock”, which in reality was a system which utilized the ABS system to detect wheelspin and apply the brakes. This major change resulted in some minor interior tweaks, such as moving the cigarette lighter, and there were additional revisions to the radio. The transmission’s traditional weak first gear was also addressed, as well as adding infrared locking and some other minor trim changes. All of these changes – some of them running changes – give the limited production S6s, and especially the Avants, a bit of a bespoke feel. With numbers produced only in the hundreds, these are special and coveted cars that are very capable – and highly sought:
Audi fans are an interesting bunch. To be fair, I think that most devoted followers of a specific brand in any circumstance are an interesting bunch, but knowing the Audi folks a bit I’m closer to the understanding. What I find interesting is that there’s such a schism between the model fans and who they attract. Each has a devoted following, and each of those groups is a microcosm in and of itself. Take my model group, for example – the Type 85. In that model group, there are the three major notables: the 4000 quattro, the Coupe GT, and of course the Quattro. Then within each of those subsets, there are further fan specializations; 84 4000S quattro versus the 85-87; early GT versus 85-87 and then the “87.5” crew; and of course each one of the model years of the Quattro has its followers. As with the GT, Audi fans have come to naming half model years to differentiate the upgrades; 87.5 GTs received a revised engine and brakes along with some other minor details, but then there are “95.5” S6s and “2001.5” S4s; heck, there are even “2005.5” S4s. Fans become semi-obsessed with differentiating each of the subset models and what makes them special. Today, though, seeing any of these cars in great shape is special to me – and these three each have their special fan base. Thanks to our reader John, here’s a roundup of three fan favorites that are sure to make some smile:
If you’re a big fan of the Audi S6 Avant, and you see a good one, buy it. These rare wagons were used and used well by their owners, and today few remain in top shape. Many more appear in the condition of today’s car; worn, a bit tired, but underneath the patina they are still one of the best sleeper performance packages out there. Unlike the last example, a clean and super rare Casablanca White example, today’s is shown in the much more common Emerald Green Metallic with black leather – apparently, the prototype of the Goodwood Green example I wrote up earlier this week:
Winter is coming and for some of us around the country, it’s already arrived. Still want your dose of fast but need something that can handle the hazardous road conditions. Try one of these on for size: the Audi S6. Known as the Ur S4 before it got a name change halfway through its production cycle, these relatively mild looking sedans and estates had Audi’s proven 20 valve turbocharged five cylinder under the hood, providing reliable and very tunable power.
Engine: 2.2 liter turbocharged inline-5
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 96,805 mi
Price: Reserve auction
1995.5 URS6 Emerald Green With Ecru Leather interior Pristine Condition Extremely rare with this type of mileage. Clean Carfax, 3 owners, no accidents. Completely stock and all original body panels, european front head lamp lenses, original Audi windshield with factory yellow tint at the top. Car was recently refinished and the paint is flawless. 16″ Fuch wheels in excellent condition. Super rare Yokohama AVS high performance summer Z rated tires all matching and in great shape. This car has no issues, runs and drives great, everything works, and interior is in great shape. Very clean, this was a non-smoker car. Just serviced with all new fluids, brakes, shocks, ball joints, front and rear control arms. Safe and ready to be driven. See Photobucket link for more photos. Photos are very detailed and show thesmall flaws that the car has like a crack in turn the front turn signal, driver mirror glass has a little delamination, and very small crack at the bottom of the front bumper. Overall this car is in incredible shape. Call for more info. 401 440 9067 Thanks, Peter.
This color combination is rather somber for what is supposed to be an outright sporting saloon. Red is probably my favorite colors when it comes to these, but I’m so enamored with the Ur S4/S6 that I’d certainly take this car as is. As compared to their contemporaries, the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz 500E, these fast Audis are still rather affordable, as you can very easily scoop up a good one in the $6,000 to $9,000 range. As time marches on, it’s getting harder to find these with under 100,000 miles in such good shape, so if you’ve considered one of these in the past, now is a good opportunity to get one of these 20 valve wonders.