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. And like ‘Q-Ships’ from the past, outside of a few extra exhaust ports and slightly flashier badging, most people would be hard-pressed to differentiate this serious performance package from the normal A4 wrapper. But that doesn’t mean that this car has to be boring, and you could select a few beautiful exterior colors such as this Volcano Red Metallic example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 Audi S4 on Audizine

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2011 Audi S5 Exclusive

I’ll be the first admit that I’ve never really liked the S5. It felt as though Audi could have done better and didn’t. It’s always looked fat, flat and uninspired to me, and that’s not helped by the engine selections or the color pallet. When it first emerged it immediately seemed to me that it was a direct copy of the E92 BMW, but with much less exciting engines. Don’t get me wrong – the E92 isn’t my favorite BMW design, either. But it somehow managed to have more presence than the A5/S5 duo in pretty much any iteration – especially so when it came to the vibrant M3. It was almost primed to take on the E46 M3, but when the 414 horsepower V8-laden E9x emerged, the S5 was immediately second fiddle. It’s sole trump card over the M3 was that they came standard with all-wheel drive. That’s about it.

So what’s one doing here? Well, occasionally in the sea of gray, dark gray, light gray, black, dark black, silver, light silver or white S5s, a really pretty one emerges for sale. Case in point: this Audi Exclusive Glut Orange example. Suddenly the S5 makes a lot more sense – why didn’t they sell them ALL in this color?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 Audi S5 Exclusive on eBay

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Nogoff 2: 2014 Audi S4 v. 2015 Audi S4

A good friend of mine rolled up for a visit yesterday in her B8 Audi S4. So much attention has been focused on the launch of the turbocharged M3/M4 that it’s easy to forget that the S4 is still a very good choice in the sport sedan market. If you believe that all Audis drive the same with terminal understeer, you haven’t been behind the wheel of the most recent generations from the four rings, whose clever computers, suspension and differentials have left them turning as well as they go. And they look as good as they go too, with signature top-tier interiors and lovely details. Audi recently offered a brief run of classic Nogaro Blue Pearl Effect on the S4 too, with a special edition that bathed the S4 in the purpley-blue. Today I have two such colored examples to look at – which is the one you’d nog off to?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 Audi S4 on eBay

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2010 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Avant

I’ll spare readers my usual rant about how I don’t like SUVs. But what I don’t like even more than SUVs is when their popularity precludes me from buying a car in the US that I normally would want, such as the Audi S4 Avant. Audi hasn’t offered a non-Allroad style Avant since 2012, which is a shame, given how attractive the B8 A4 Avant was. At least the US got a few years production sent over here, though. This 2010 A4 Avant 2.0T finished in Deep Sea Blue Pearl has got me pining for the days of when Audi understood its traditional customer. The all-wheel drive Avant driving customer.

Click for details: 2010 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Avant on Hemmings Motor News

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Wagon Week: 2010 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant

When Audi launched the A4 Avant with the B5 series, it was a bit of a trump card for the small wagon enthusiast. True, the Volkswagen Passat had been available in 5-door form for a few generations, and it VR6 form it was quite entertaining. However, quality of the pre-B5 chassis Passats wasn’t the best, and all-wheel drive had only been available with the Quantum for a few short years in the late 1980s. Audi had offered its unique large Avant platform in both 5000/200 and S6 form, but they were pretty expensive relative to the small cars the company offered. The A4 Avant continued on for through the B7 chassis we saw yesterday; a serious improvement in looks over the rather plain looking B6. When the B8 launched, initially I thought “There goes Audi again, following the formula of making everything bigger”. The B8 was a LOT bigger than the original A4 had been; in fact, park one next to an original A6, and the B8 A4 is dimensionally it was only slightly smaller. There was one key difference, though. Sure, the A4 had been stretched in every direction – but most importantly, you’d find that the wheel base was now the best part of a foot longer than the early Audi platforms. Visually that shortened the notoriously long overhangs of the Audis and offered more legroom to the occupants. Anyone who has ever been in the back of a B5 A4 would certainly appreciate that. Amazingly, too, the new A4 was lighter, and thanks to revised suspension geometry, new and more advanced computers and a torque-laden 2.0 turbo motor, it felt and drove considerably better than any of the previous generations had, too. It even looked really good in my mind. It was an instant success as previous generations had been, making one wonder even more why it went away:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Avant on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1996 Alpina B8 4.0

While Ruf and AMG grab most of the big tuner headlines from Germany, Alpina quietly and competently produced some of the wildest and best executed BMWs ever made. Simply put, Alpina made already good BMWs better – and arguably still do today. One of the most interesting aspects of the company is the close working relationship they have with the factory; a partnership which results in truly special treatment. Take the Alpina B8 for example; any normal tuner might have simply enlarged the inline-6 under the hood of the already potent M3. Or, in the tradition of the 1980s Alpinas, they could have turbocharged the engine. But instead Alpina asked BMW to make them a special V8. And, somewhat surprisingly, BMW did – a new block was designed for Alpina since the normal 4.0 couldn’t be bored out. The result was a 4.6 liter motor which was fit to the B8 4.6 and B10 as well. The motor was so large in the E36 that a special oil pan had to be designed, and neatly a German camera maker had to be employed to design and build a special oil pump to run it. Yet in true Alpina tradition, the fit and finish was factory and accompanied a host of suspension, interior and aerodynamic tweaks. Capped off by special Alpina paint, these B8s are truly special E36s. While the B8 4.6 is the headline grabber, Alpina built a short run of 5…or perhaps 6….4 liter models that were sold in Japan:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Alpina B8 on Bimmerforums

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2009 Audi S5

As depreciation continues to work its wonderful magic, there are a number of excellent cars falling into the sub $30k range which is the cap of what I consider to be reasonable at this point in my life. If you’ve got $30k to spend on a car then then the field is wide open, E90 M3s, 987 Caymans and the B8 S5 are all options. At that price point they’re most likely not the garage queen you dream of but clean, mechanically solid examples with relatively low miles are out there. I think this particular car is one of those examples, and with just under 70k on the clock it looks to have been well cared for. I guess that’s what starting life as a corporate fleet vehicle in California will do for a car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Audi S5 On eBay

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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

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2015 Audi RS5 Cabriolet

Audi’s decision to launch a convertible S4 was interesting to me for a few reasons. First, the concept of a really fast 4-seat convertible is sort of odd to me; I can understand why a roadster would have its appeal, but even then really fast ones are sort of odd. It’s just not very pleasant getting buffeted by the wind at 130 m.p.h. and chopping the roof off tends to make the offending car all bendy. In order to combat that, manufacturers add support and strengthening in the floor – but that makes the car heavier and not handle as well. So, your very fast coupe – or in the case of the S4, sedan – is now a slower, more-ill handling car that musses your hair. On top of that, the idea of Audi’s strength – all wheel drive and adverse conditions – failed to mesh with the intention of most convertibles – sun and fair weather. But the S4 cabriolet pointed towards a future in the S range: Audi’s crack unit quattro GmbH produced them, because they were the only 2-door variant of the S4 at that time. Of course, more recently we’ve seen the introduction of the coupe version of the B chassis, the “A5” and accompanying S5 – but first, Audi went all high performance and made a RS variant of the B7 A4. Great! Then they offered it as a ultra-exclusive, $85,000 2-door, 4 seat convertible. Huh? I mean, the concept of paying 85 large for a trumped up Audi A4 is staggering in and of itself, but then why do it? You already had a S4 convertible. You were about to introduce a new lineup of the “5” series, along with convertibles there – including the replacements for the RS4 – the RS5 coupe and cabriolet. So why do it? Because people with a lot of money bought them, that’s why. And after a staggeringly short amount of time with them, they move on:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2015 Audi RS5 Cabriolet on eBay

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2011 Audi S5

$_57

Auto show season is in full swing, and for the first time in my life I can’t remember being this unenthusiastic about the current lineup of new vehicles. The cars I came across at my local show that I could envision driving daily numbered less than ten. Sure, some may call me old fashioned, but styling across the board seems contrived these days and the amount of technology jammed into cars these days is too much for my tastes. However, there are some bright spots. One of my favorite new cars of recent memory is the Audi A5. This coupe embraces good clean design. Kick it up a notch for the S5 and you’ve got brawn under the hood to match the beauty. Add a wild color you say? Well, this Glut Orange S5 is sure to polarize opinions, but I love it.

Click for more details: 2011 Audi S5 on eBay

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