Audi A4-off Double Take: 1996 A4 2.8 v. 2000 A4 2.8 quattro Avant

Following up on the A8 3.7 front-driver oddity I posted last week, today I’m going to look at a few of the cars that put Audi back on the map. 1996 was the year Audi brought the brand-new A4 model in to replace the aging B4 90. So successful was the A4, and so ubiquitous in the small German executive market today that you’d assume the early examples were far more prolific than they were, in reality.

Still, the A4 is credited with saving the company, at the very least for the U.S. market share. Is it true? Take this into consideration; Audi sold 18,960 A4s from the launch in late 1995 until the end of 1996. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Toyota, after all sells about 400,000 Camrys every year for the last half-decade – and that’s in a market that very much no longer values the sedan. But in 1995, Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars including those early A4s. Go back a year, and the number was substantially lower; 12,575. Entering into the 2000 model year, Audi crested 100,000 A4s sold in the U.S. market. The proof was in the pudding. By the time the new C5 A6 launched, Audi’s sales had crested 65,000 units a year and they haven’t looked back. 1994’s sale figures represented 0.08 of the marketplace; today, Audi sells a still modest but sustainable 1.3%.

But while Audi and “quattro” are synonymous, like the A8 I looked at, a fair chunk of the early A4s avoided the extra cost of all-wheel drive and came configured as FronTrak models. About 7,000 of those nearly 19,000 1996 A4s were so ordered. The prolific nature of these cars, coupled with typical low Audi residual value, has meant that they’re hard to find in clean condition. So today I have two; one from the beginning and one from the end of the run. While both are white, it’s just about there where the similarities end:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Audi A4 2.8 on eBay

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What’s the R Value? 2001 Audi S4 Avant v. RS4 Avant

If you follow these pages, neither the names RS4 or Avant should be particularly new to you. Audi’s B5 generation fast wagon wasn’t the first to wear the RS badge, but it was the first fully quattro GmbH RS car. In the spirit of the RS2 built in conjunction with Porsche and the S6 plus which moved production in house to the quattro GmbH subsidiary, Audi utilized the VAG group acquisition of Cosworth to up the boost on the twin-turbocharged V6 to produce the best part of 400 horsepower. But while the RS2 and S6 plus had rather discrete changes outside to signify how special they were, the RS4 added vents, slats, big flares and giant wheels to back up the added performance. It was the change that launched a thousand dreams, as countless B5 S4 owners attempted to recreate the package that wasn’t brought to the U.S.. A few have made it here through back channels and we’ve written up previously the huge premium they command over regular S4s, but the newer generations of performance cars have dimmed the concentration on the older wonder Audis. Still, even today the RS4 is a pretty potent performance machine and getting closer to being legally importable to the U.S.. But of course our neighbors to the north have more lax importations laws, so RS4s are making their way into Canada as we speak. Additionally, really good examples of the regular S4 Avants are drying up as well. Today, I have an interesting comparison – a just imported, low mileage RS4 Avant versus a fully upgraded, low mileage S4 Avant – likely one of the nicest in the U.S.. What’s the difference in value today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi RS4 Avant on Autotrader Canada

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Wagon Week 10K Friday: Audimatic S For The People

It’s been a while since I wrote up a 10K Friday article; they take some time both in determining the thread, finding the car and then writing them all up. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of inspiration though, and Wagon Week was just that for me. While we’ve covered many of the most popular fast and practical wagons this week, again I’m going to do a bit of an unusual comparison to cover some unloved models that are potential deals: automatic Audi S Avants. So, in today’s comparison we have a B5 S4, a B6 S4, a C5 S4 and to compare values a C4 S6 (the only row-your-own here). Which is the right choice for a fast Audi wagon?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Audi S4 Avant on Craigslist

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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

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Avant-garde: 1995 Audi S6 Avant Roundup

In the U.S., few Audi models have quite such a devoted following as the 1995 S6 Avant. Not many were imported, and those that were generally have been snapped up by enthusiasts and had miles piled on to them. Some have succumbed to accidents or been organ donors, leaving even fewer on the road 20 years later. However, we have 4 today available – amazingly all in different colors. Which would be the one you would choose? Let’s start with an Emerald Green Mica example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 Avant on eBay

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1995 Audi S6 Avant

About a month ago Paul wrote up an Emerald 1995 S6 Avant with reasonable mileage at a reasonable price. Unfortunately for fans of non-dated colors, it seems that most of the S6 Avants came in this shade, and unless it was really well cared for it never makes the car stand out. Today, however, there is a bit of a shining star – this particular S6 is offered in Casablanca White, a very rare option to see. Not much is shown of the interior but the exterior sure looks clean:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Audi S6 Avant on Cars.com

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