In recent posts I covered both the importance of the B5 chassis and its development into nuclear-grade weaponry in the RS4. In the midst was the substantially more tame yet still quite exciting S4 Avant.
Audi brought the S4 Avant to the United States for the first time in 2001. It joined the sedan lineup and offered a follow-up to the large chassis S6 Avant from 1995. Instead of the traditional inline-5 motivation, though, Audi had developed a new 2.7 liter version of its V6. With a K03 turbocharger strapped to each side, the APB produced 250 horsepower at 5800 rpms and 258 lb.ft of torque at only 1850 revs. Like all the B5s, Audi’s new generation of ‘quattro’ used a T2 Torsen center differential and relied upon an electronic rear differential utilizing the ABS sensors. The B5 chassis used the same technology on the front differential as well and was capable of independently braking each front wheel to try to sort the car out through its dynamic stability program.
But the real fun was that it was available as an Avant and with a 6-speed manual. Just over 1,500 were claimed imported between 2001 and 2002’s model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. Light Silver Metallic was by far the most popular color ordered, and this particular Avant is one of 358 LSM manuals brought in for the 2001 model year:
Here we are a week after looking at the 1990 Alpina B10 BiTurbo, and by chance, we get to look at a second BiTurbo. Last week’s was seriously suspect; there were alarm bells throughout, as major chassis issues and incongruous details were capped by a seller clearly looking to deceive the market. At first glance, there’s some cause for concern here, too, as we’ll see in a moment. Is this the case of another crestfallen hero, or does this super sedan hold true to its heritage?
So the last few listings for Alpinas have been….well, quite disappointing to say the least. Most recently was the “B12 5.0”, a car which was cleverly listed to avoid the discussion about its actual provenance. It worked, as the ’88 750iL sold for $23,600:
Another Almost Alpina Alumnus: 1988 BMW 750iL “Alpina B12 5.0”
Before that I looked at two E30s, both of which had some questions about their history and authenticity, though they both looked the part:
Tuner Tuesday E30 Showdown: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5 v. 1987 Hartge H26
Then there was the other C2 2.5, which I was able to confirm after a long time was another assembly of parts rather than an original build:
Mystery Solved?: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5
Not a great record, eh? But all of these auctions went to show that it was very important when checking out these cars to make sure that they had a well-documented history confirming their authenticity. So the other day when a B10 BiTurbo – one of the most sought Alpina models out there – was narrowed into my search criteria, I knew it was worth a look. And at first glance, it all seemed to be right. Did a scrutinizing hold up that belief, or is this another case of ‘can’t judge a book’?
The C5 Audi Allroad, a car that can’t be talked about without someone bringing up the photo of MacGyver being thwarted by one. Now a punching bag by many in the automotive world, I personally don’t think it is worse than any other German car that is over 10 years old. Yes, a twin-turbo V6 and air suspension do make things a little more complicated, but if you stay on top of potential issues, I don’t see the a giant problem with owning one of these. Fortunately, the owner selling this 2001 outside of Cleveland gave this green machine all the love it needs — and maybe even a little more.
While the C6 RS6 Avant and B7 RS4 Avant have been nice to dream about, the reality is that both are pretty unlikely in the near future to be making the trip ‘across the pond’ anytime soon. So let’s consider something which both could, and might.
The B5 RS4 was a legend right when it launched, but for some reason it seems overlooked in the marketplace today. Not as exotic as the RS2, nor as fast as the newer crew of turbocharged Audis, the B5 generation somehow feels lost. It doesn’t help that it was insanely popular to mimic the model’s gaping grills and signature widened flares here, nor that the RS4 engine upgrades are fairly common among enthusiasts. But when you see a real RS4, it’s easy to see why this car was so highly regarded at the time.
First, it’s a very sharp looking car. Nogaro Blue was the defining color for fast Audis in this period, but boy does Imola Yellow stand out. The stance, wheels, flares and bumper covers along with more pronounced exhaust all pull together to make the RS4 feel much more special than a normal S4 Avant. And with 375 horsepower on tap from the Cosworth-developed version of the 2.7 liter twin-turbo V6, it’s not exactly like the B5 RS4 was pokey. In fact, the power-to-weight and performance is nearly identical to the later B7 RS4.
You want power? When Cosworth slapped a few turbos onto Audi’s venerable 4.2 liter V8 for the C5 RS6, that’s what you got. 450 stampeding horsepower and 428 lb ft. of torque meant that in the early 2000s it was the model to beat. But AMG and BMW M quickly caught up and surged past the C5’s power output – even when Audi upped it with the “Plus” model to 469 hp.
The launch of a new RS6 based upon the C6 platform allowed Audi some room to expand the model’s engine output by literally expanding the engine: now 10 cylinders displaced 5.0 liters. Straddled by two turbochargers again, the second generation RS6’s power output leapt into a new league, with an almost unfathomable 571 horsepower and 479 ft. of torque. The C6 is a heavy car, but it was capable of 911-scaring 0-60 runs and could top 170 mph with ease.
What’s amazing is that Audi’s replacement for this car, the C7, moved to the new twin-turbo V8 4.0T motor. More power right? Well, not so fast; it actually produces about 11 horsepower less than the peak performance of the V10, though I’ll grant that the additional gears and greater torque mean it’s a functionally quicker car (as if it needed to be). Well, quicker than a stock one, at least, because this particular RS6 Avant has been ‘slightly’ upgraded to north of 700 horsepower.
While BMW’s M5 has been the benchmark for performance sedans since its inception in 1985, there have been plenty of challengers along the way that have really pushed the limits of sedans to new levels. The Lotus Carlton, for example, completely changed what going fast with 4-doors meant in the early 1990s. With twin turbochargers slapped on an otherwise unassuming inline-6, the bespoilered and wide-wheeled Opel packed 377 horsepower and could hit 180 m.p.h. flat out in 1990.
That meant the next generation of super-sedans would have to up their game, and constant brinkmanship ensued; the 3.8 upgrade to the E34 M5 hit 335 horsepower. The 500E packed 322, and Audi’s C4 S6 Plus matched that amount. They were still short of the Lotus, though, and playing catch up. Moving into the late 90s, power levels started to go crazy.
The C5 S6 launched in 1999, now with 335 horsepower. The same year, Mercedes-Benz entered with the E55 AMG at 349 horsepower. But both paled in comparison to the new E39 M5 with 400 horsepower – the undisputed king of super-sedans at the time. That would change in 2002 when Audi’s quattro GmbH launched its newest creation. With help from Cosworth Technologies, the new RS6 sported two turbos on the 4.2 liter V8 seen in the S6. The result was an impressive 450 horsepower driven through all four wheels. Giant wheels filled massive flares, at the front huge gulping intakes fed the intercoolers, and special exhaust and gills popped up everywhere. It was the new super-hero sedan and the result was…well, fast. The limited nature and performance potential of these RS6s have meant they’ve retained greater value than the normal C5 range, though they’ve been in steady decline. Today, we get to test the market on a well used example – where do these C5s sit today?
While I’ve recently covered quite a string of impressive Alpina models, the reality is that all of them leave me a bit wanting. It’s not that they aren’t lovely, or full of incredible and beautiful detail. It’s not that they’re in bad condition, misused or abused. It’s not salvage titles, accident history or even poorly presented advertisement. No, for me, it’s what you get for your money. I understand the nature of exclusivity and certainly the Alpinas offer that. They, for the most part, also back up that exclusivity with well-engineered increased performance, so while the appearance package helps to set them apart, few Alpinas are posers. But when the asking prices for aftermarket E30s are $50,000, $60,000 – even $90,000 dollars, for you not to question the sanity of the market would be seriously worrysome. That’s especially true since you can get Alpina’s arguably most impressive product from the same period for less:
What would you do with over 700 ft lb of torque? Well, if it were me, I’d make sure to unnerve the neighbors a bit as I started out my morning commute. Fortunately, for them, I work from home. Yes, that’s just how much power these CL65 AMG coupes pack under the hood, with a healthy 604 horsepower to go along with those torques. If the CL55 AMG with its 5.5 liter supercharged V8 was not enough, Mercedes decided to go one step further and strap two turbochargers on a 6.0 liter V12 and unleash what has to be one of the most serious luxury coupes to ever hit the market. Set apart by those gun metal gray alloy wheels, this 2006 CL65 AMG for sale in North Carolina has yet to cross the 40,000 mile mark and gives those power hungry enthusiasts among us a crack at a barely broken in über-coupe.
For me, the great appeal of the early ’00s era super sedans has always been their relatively restrained styling. Unlike contemporary offerings from M, AMG and quattro GmbH, which are nakedly aggressive and loud, the cars from this period don’t look too different from the underlying models on which they were based. The RS6 is a good example. The C5 platform A6 underpinning the car typifies Audi styling of the time: good looking and functional but a bit staid. I’d be willing to admit that some of the Bauhaus-esque curves and lines give it a little edginess, especially when when viewed from the rear quarter panel, but you have to squint hard to see them. Indeed, Regular Car Review Guy has a bit about the styling of the A4 of the same era being “the future by way of the past,” and I think that the same could equally be said about the A6. This conservatism continues into the RS6, but the deeper front spoiler, flared fenders, 18″ wheels and double exhaust make for a far more muscular look and hint at the extraordinary power that lies beneath. While enthusiasts will know what it is, most other people will mistake it for an ordinary executive saloon. And that’s a good thing. There’s something seriously cool about a car that blends into the crowd, but is nonetheless capable of cracking nearly 200 MPH on the autobahn.