Feature Listing: 2015 Audi S4

Just the other day, an old car friend of mine contacted our group of enthusiasts with an interesting challenge. He currently owns a Nissan 370Z, and while he really likes the car he’s got a family and needs something a bit more practical. So he queried the group; what car should he get in the $40,000 range that was special, fast, had 4-doors and a manual transmission?

Several thoughts came to mind, and I’m sure that everyone’s head is already spinning like mine did. While immediately several went to BMW M products like the E39 M5, I had an alternate suggestion which also considered where my friend lives – New Hampshire. ‘What about the Audi S4?’ I suggested. He admitted had hadn’t thought of one, in part because he previously owned a S4 – in his case a B5 – and didn’t love the driving experience.

Well, since the S4 has come a long way since the 1990s in power, technology, size and driving experience. And what has emerged is a very impressive all-arounder which flies under the radar. The supercharged V6 in the B8 gave a healthy 333 horsepower an Russian steppe-flat torque curve with 325 lb.ft available from 3,000 rpms straight through 5,250. This power could be channeled through two increasing rare options to find in electronics-heavy cars – a manual gearbox and a sport differential. Okay, 333 horsepower doesn’t sound outlandish in today’s world. But as with fast Audis of the past, the B8 and 8.5 made efficient use of that power and putting it down on the ground, making them capable of 4.4 second 0-60 sprints and a 13 second quarter-mile. This is a car which punches above its weight class, capable of embarrassing unsuspecting muscle cars.

Yet it retains its luxury-oriented character and go-anywhere all-wheel drive options, along with the practicality of offering 4-doors.…

Double Take: Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant

Last week I wrote up a 2007 A6 3.2 quattro Avant S-Line, the end of a dying breed of luxury wagons from German manufacturers. But before they fully dismissed the large wagon from U.S. shores, Audi went out with a bang when it refreshed the A6 in 2009. Minor updates to styling once again brought the A6 in line with the new design language from Audi, but the real change was under the skin. As they had with the previous models, in an attempt to save some weight from the large Audis the company utilized aluminum throughout; the 3.0Ts featured aluminum hood and fenders like the previous generation S6 had. Additionally, just like the 3.2 had been, the new 3.0T was an aluminum block; the decrease in displacement was more than made up for with a literal boost from the supercharger. With a full 20% power increase to 300 horsepower and 310 lb.ft of torque at a low 2,500 rpm, the new 3.0T was a much better performer than the 3.2 FSi V6 had been and was, briefly, a defacto S-Avant that was missing from the lineup. On top of that, the new supercharged layout meant power increases are much easier to attain; as Chris Harris demonstrated with his stunning S4 v. RS4 comparison. Audi also moved away from its “S-Line” designations towards the new strata of Premium, Premium Plus ($1,400), and Prestige ($3,200) levels which added levels of electronic wizardry and small detail difference. That was on top of the raised base price, now $60,200 in 2010. If you though the 3.2 was rare, the 3.0T is downright hard to find even though they’re nearly new.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Avant on Cargurus

2010 Audi S4

The Audi S4, now in its 6th iteration, has been a perennial performance favorite of those who like the understated looks coupled with all-weather performance. And since the original, the S4 has offered a unique tuning platform; while the B6 and B7 were difficult to extract extra performance out of, the other generations have offered forced induction out of the box that allows for generous tuning potential for a real sleeper supercar slayer. 1,000 horsepower isn’t unheard of out of the legendary inline-5, but power numbers exceeding 400 seem to be almost commonplace for the C4 and B5 S4s. So when Audi launched the supercharged V6 model in 2009, the return to a smaller displacement forced induction powerplant immediately had me thinking that it wouldn’t be long until tuned versions appeared. The trick in buying a S4, though, is and always has been managing to find an unmodified one that is well cared for but also affordable. After all, for under $10,000 you can run out and grab any one of the first three generations – however, the less you spend up front, the more likely you’ll be dishing out of pocket in the future it seems. But as we get towards the newer generation of B8 you can get a car that is still quite new for a substantial discount over the original purchase price without (generally) the fears of abuse, neglect and immediate repairs that need to be undertaken. Compare this 2010 B8 S4 to a brand new 2015 model, and you’ll notice slight changes with the facelift; more attractive lights and some other minor changes, for example. However, with only 55,000 maintained miles on the clock, if you can get past the un-refreshed looks of the early B8 you’ve got a car that is nearly identical to new ones at the dealer but is only about 50% of the price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Audi S4 on eBay