Double Take: 2002 Audi S6 Avant

Amongst unappreciated Audis, the C5 S6 seems to be pretty high on the snub list for enthusiasts. Complaints that they were overly complicated and underwhelming were understandable in some regards as the C5 S6 only came in Avant and automatic form to the U.S.. Indeed, at the same time as the S6 was offered, you could get a twin-turbocharged Allroad 6-speed for a bit less money than the S6. Since it was effectively the same car with a manual and height-adjustable suspension, one would wonder why Audi would offer the S6 at all. However, compared to some other Audis of the same vintage, the S6 holds some advantages. To lighten the porky C5 up slightly, the S6 featured some aluminum body bits up front. Unlike the previous turbocharged inline-5, power came from a capable V8 – rated at 340 horsepower, it was effectively the same motor shared with the S8 and nearly 100 horsepower more than the V6. The S6 also got a special and unique version of the Ronal-made Avus wheel at 17″x8″, instead of the 17″x7.5″ on the B5 S4. Inside the S6 was much the same as the rest of the C5 lineup, though sport seats were standard as with the S8. However, for second or third-hand owners, the big advantages to the S6 are the steel suspension in place of the air-controlled suspension the Allroad featured – a complicated system that has proven failure prone. Additionally, the belt-driven V8 doesn’t have the same guide issues of the chain-driven later V8s in the S4 V8. True, you are still subjected to the transmission woes of this generation Audis – but properly cared for, even the weak-spot transmissions can go for some time. Today I have two examples of the S6 Avant; which is the one to buy?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

2003 Audi S6 Avant

I stopped by my long-time mechanic’s just the other day to discuss some suspension repairs to the Subaru. This particular mechanic – Duarte de Costa at D&F Motorsports in Providence, Rhode Island – has been serving our family now for the best part of twenty years. He even came to my wedding. As our editor Paul said, “That’s when you know you’re into a guy deep!” To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that there was a family car there – Duarte bought my parent’s Allroad when they had enough of the repairs. But also on the lift was my father’s 1989 Porsche 944 Turbo with a headgasket failure. Parked sadly underneath it, though, was the Allroad, complete with collapsed suspension once again. By my count, it’s the fifth time in ten years that the suspension has had to be serviced. But it’s not alone; drive around Providence and you’ll see any number of Allroads bouncing around on blown airbags. It’s become so rare to see a nice one around here, you almost forget that they’re really pretty good looking cars. What’s inescapable for many, though, are the expensive repairs to keep the twin-turbocharged V6 and the active air suspension going. What’s the solution for a good looking Allroad then? Ditch both of those things and get the even more potent S6 Avant:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

10K Friday Family Truckster Edition

I got to laughing the other day during a National Lampoon marathon on television when the memorable “Family Truckster” came onto the screen. The inclusion of that heavily ornamented and modified car in the movie was truly a stroke of genius, but once again a sad reminder that many of the wagons that previously were available to us are gone, replaced by crossovers, “GT”s, or SUV/SAV vehicles. Of course, because of this you don’t have to go back very far in time to find great deals on the last generation of premium 5-doors. Today, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up a set of all-wheel drive sporty wagons to consider – which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate 4Matic on eBay

Twin Turbo Terrors – Audi RS6 Roundup

The other day I wrote up two M5s, questioning whether the E34 was a smart decision when the E39 offered more performance and luxury at a lower price point. That’s not the end of the story, though, because the car that created a sensation and helped to once again redefine the category has dropped to historic lows in value. The Audi RS6 wasn’t the first car to offer a V8 in the mid-sized luxury segment, but as with the original Quattro they upped the game by offering not only a V8, but twin turbochargers and all-wheel drive to the mix. The result was a hunkered down Autobahn warrior with 450 horsepower on tap. It was immediately the top dog, and being turbocharged it was capable of even more outrageous levels of power. As with its AMG and M counterparts, it was also quite expensive as the newest piece of kit in 2003; at nearly $90,000, not many could afford the super sedan. But now a little over a decade on, the Audi RS6 has predictably gone through a few generations of ownership and has dropped substantially in value. In part, that’s because the Audis of this generation have some known faults and keeping the twin-turbocharged V8 running in top condition can be an expensive proposition. But if you want to go fast and have one seriously menacing luxury car on the road, it’s hard to argue that anything can do it better for less money today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 on eBay

2002 Audi S6 Avant

Recently I’ve several times bemoaned the death of the fast Audi Avant on U.S. shores; one of the culprits that helped to hasten that demise was unfortunately this car. It’s not really that it’s consumer’s fault that this occurred; after all, Audi did offer a manual, twin turbocharged fast version of the Allroad alongside the S6 that made the lack of inclusion of a manual an odd choice. Plus, out of the box, the Allroad arguably had more bling with the air suspension and nifty color contrasting trim that was all the rage amongst wagon manufacturers in the late 90s/early 2000s. We’ll blame Volvo for starting that popular trend, though. Regardless, the Allroad was substantially more successful in regards to market share than the S6 Avant; no surprise, then, that it was killed off to the U.S. market after a shockingly short run with not many sold. A decade on, though, the S6 offers a rare opportunity to get into a fast Audi wagon on a budget. Many of the pitfalls of the Allroad and other period Audi wagons didn’t appear in the S6; the neat but fragile air suspension was replaced by steel springs, and unlike the Allroad and A6 4.2s, the engine in the S6 was a cambelt driven V8. Long term, they’ve proven to be more reliable than the rest of the 2000s Audi V8s that have chains instead. The S6 got some unique features too, such as the grill, 8″ wheels and door blades that gave it a slightly more stately and classic appearance than the rest of the A6 lineup. The result is that you can grab one of these fast and unappreciated Audis for a song today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

10K Friday Family Truckster Edition: E500 Wagon v. 530xi Touring v. Passat 1.8T 4Motion Variant v. S6 v. Touareg v. Cayenne S

Family life – it’s a mixed blessing. I could never have imagined the unintended consequences expanding my family by 50%; in terms of space consumed, physics and logic told me that there was no way that the amount of space required with a small child would increase any more than…say, 50%. Yet, the reality of adding to my family is that the amount of space required for even what seems like the most miniscule trip increases disproportionately to the size of the package that arrives. Babies are a bit like those magic sponges in a capsule I got when I was a kid; once they hit air, they expand to 200-300% the size they were. So, long story short, when you have a family you likely need more space.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a general backing away from wagons towards the bane of most enthusiast’s existence, the S.U.V. and the “crossover” – many of which are really just tall wagons. So what are the options if you want to maintain an enthusiast’s lifestyle whilst still surviving the onslaught of baby-themed items? Well, for around $10,000 you can get some pretty diverse rides – so let’s see what’s the one you’d choose:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 4Matic Wagon on eBay

Feature Listing: 2003 Audi RS6

Up until the early 2000s, Audi always did things a little differently than its countrymen. Critics and enthusiasts have sometimes criticized the designs for not being optimal, overly complicated or ill-timed. But get into a RS car – any RS car – and it’s hard not to be completely thrilled. Audi certainly pulled out the stops for it’s top of the line, quattro GmbH assembled super-sedans and avants; the great details abound. Subtly flared fenders, special bumpers, larger wheels and massive brakes, lowered ride height and signature twin exhaust became the blueprint for the RS4 and RS5 to follow and hinted at the new bar that Audi set, but under the hood lurked something special in the RS6. Like the S6 the power was derived from a V8, but in the RS6 two turbochargers boosted performance to 440 horsepower with torque to match. The power was seamless and unabated; more a freight train that never let up than a rush of power. This car is deceptively fast, so quiet and unassuming it really was the ultimate Q-ship of its time. I was lucky enough to push one of these cars to its limit when new around Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, and while it’s no lightweight sports car, the amount of speed and grip it generates is otherworldly, and it can easily keep up with many cars that should be quicker. Inside you were bathed in luxury; soft touch plastics, warm colors on the dashboard, excellent seats that managed to both be supportive and comfortable. There were small details too that helped to make the RS6 feel even more exclusive; the Alcantara headliner, alternating color piping on the leather, rich wood accents and carbon fiber details that were sprinkled in just the right proportions to make this car the ultimate Autobahn weapon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi RS6 at Sun Valley Auto Club

Kompressed: 2002 Audi S6 Avant Supercharged

The C5 Audi S6 was a little soft, you say? Not this one. While enthusiasts may have been disappointed that the C5 Audi S6 was available in tiptronic automatic only in the U.S., it was also only available in Avant form here, something that fans could at least celebrate. Mated to the excellent 4.2 V8, it was a solid choice for fast, comfortable performance for a family. But for some folks that just wasn’t enough, and we thank them for that. From the few that have undergone the manual swap, there are some row-your-own S6s floating around for sale from time to time. While this particular car doesn’t have that option, what it does carry is a PES supercharger pushing a few pounds of boost into that awesome V8. The result is near RS6 levels of performance in a sleeper package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S6 on Audifans.com

2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-speed

In general, the C5 Audi S6 gets overlooked by enthusiasts who dismiss it as a soft, automatic-only fragile replacement for the legendary C4 S6. That’s a shame, because the C5 is a solid car and performer and one that the owners who have experienced them seem to love. What those who aren’t in the know seem to want is a 6-speed manual variant of the S6, though few have undertaken the swap. We have seen a few though, most recently a 6-speed converted S6 that was questionably modified but sported the all-important manual. No one jumped on that car despite the seemingly reversible modifications, so perhaps today’s more original example will make some converts?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Audi S6 Avant 6-Speed on Craigslist.org

Afternoon Accessories: Audi A4/A6 polished aluminum 15×6 wheels

For some reason, every once in a while I see a wheel that I just really love. It doesn’t need to be the biggest, widest wheel available, and I’m not always sure why aesthetically some appeal to me and others don’t. Take, for example, today’s A4/A6 polished aluminum wheels – on the surface, a very similar design to the 15×7 wheels that came standard on the A4 1.8T – but those I hate, and these I love. They’re understated and hint at Euro-goodness, and are quite rare to see on these shores. Here’s a set for someone on a budget:

Year: 1996-2001
Model: A4/A6
Diameter: 15″
Width: 6″
Bolt Pattern: 5×112
Offset: ET 45
Condition: Used
Tires: Included
Price: $225 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Audi A4/A6 Polished Aluminum wheels on eBay