Almost S: 2001 and 2003 Audi A6 4.2 quattros

After the legendary run of turbocharged inline-5 motors ended for U.S. customers in 1995, Audi would not deliver another S6 to these shores until 2002. When it arrived, it came in only one form – the popular Avant package. While many rejoiced that this was at the very least an option, it was still pretty expensive and not everyone loves the fast five doors (crazy though it may seem!). But Audi came very close to offering S performance in the special package which was the A6 4.2 quattro. There were many variants of the C5, and ostensibly the 6-speed manual 2.7T was the “sport” option for the chassis. But the top of the heap 4.2 40V offered you the ART/AWN V8’s torque and 300 horsepower with instant throttle response starting in 2000. Underneath the 4.2 carried a special aluminum subframe. Additionally, the all-aluminum engine was joined by specially flared fenders and hood in aluminum, “door blades” that would later be seen on S models, plus optional 17″ x 8″ Speedline (later changed to forged and polished “Fat Fives”) wheels and upgraded brakes and pads. Suspension was lowered and stiffened with the 1BE sport springs and struts in the optional Sport Package; a 20mm drop was accompanied by 30% stiffer springs, 40% stiffer shocks and larger sway bars. The combination gave a menacing appearance to the C5 that wasn’t really present in the narrow-body 2.7T. Today, the argument over which is the better chassis still rages in multiple fora, and while tuners usually love the twin turbo manual option, many others prefer the velvet hammer 4.2 which really was a defacto S6 sedan Audi never brought here:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A6 4.2 quattro on eBay

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Double Take: 2001 Audi A6 4.2 quattro

For the C5 chassis, there was a major change in that the popular S6 sedan was discontinued in the United States. In its place, you got to choose from a few options; if you had to have a S6, Audi would oblige but only in wagon form in 2002/2003 with the S6 Avant. If you had to have a S sedan, your option was to wait until the 2003 twin turbo RS6 launched and pay a serious premium over a standard A6. But Audi had two spiritual successors to the C4 S6. First, you could get the twin turbocharged 2.7T V6 in the A6 sedan and it could be had with a 6-speed manual. A little heavier than the C4 but with a bit more power, performance was very close to the legendary turbo 5. But few remember that there was a 4.2 V8 option on the C4 S6 in Europe as well, and you could even specify your S6 with (gasp!) an automatic transmission. Audi recreated this package as well in the new C5 A6 4.2 quattro, and to make it a bit more special it was given some S6 details. The 4.2, for example, sported lighter aluminum fenders and hood, along with an aluminum front subframe to match it’s alloy V8. A full 1.4″ longer and with 3.5″ of additional track over the standard A6, the 4.2 also gained the door blades that would later be seen on the S cars. It was the defacto S6 sedan that was never offered, though the 300 horsepower V8 was down on power to the S6 motor and only 2/3s the power of the later twin-turbo RS6. Despite the special aspects the A6 4.2 doesn’t seem to enjoy as much as cult following as either the S6 Avant or the A6 2.7T 6-speed. I’ve rounded up two 4.2s to consider today; one with a manual swap and another with quite low mileage. Which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi A6 4.2 quattro on eBay

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