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. This was actually the second S4 Avant, as Europeans had enjoyed the C4-based creation in the early 90s. Audi’s renaming convention therefore created a successor to the B4-based S2 Avant. 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 model years, with about 600 of those being Tiptronic equipped. This is one of a claimed 80 Imola Yellow 6-speed manual Avants imported for the model year, and for good measure it’s got quite a few upgrades:
Even though for me the B5 chassis A4 was the beginning of the dilution of the Audi brand, I admit I have always had a soft spot for nice examples. And the first A4 had plenty of things to celebrate. First off, it effectively saved and resurrected the brand in the U.S. from near extinction; consider for a moment Audi sold a total of 18,124 cars in 1995, the same year that the A4 was introduced as a 1996. By 1997, Audi sold 16,333 of just the A4 quattro model alone. As a success, that subsequently meant that there were a plethora of options to be had in the new chassis as production opened up. Soon we had the 1.8T turbo model joining the V6, the V6 was soon revised to have 30 valves, there was a light refresh in ’98 as well and another in ’01, the Avant joined the lineup for ’98, and of course we got a new S4 in 2000.
Considering that for some time there had only been one way per a year to get the small chassis in quattro form, this relatively dizzying array of chassis configurations meant that there are still quite a few nice ones out there to be had. Today finding clean examples is getting hard, and they’re heading up in price:
As I mentioned in the last listing, Europe got some really interesting options in the C4 S4/S6 that I’d probably be looking at were I importing one. On top of that, most of the C4 range is relatively cheap compared to both other vintage Audis and the prices they achieve in the US market. For reference, here’s the last example:
1995 Audi S6 Avant Euro-Spec
Now before you get all excited and say that I forgot a very important addition symbol on the end of the title here, this one isn’t a Plus. But, it sure looks like it is! Finished in RS Blue over matching Alcantara, what we have here is a right-hand drive S6 Avant 20V Turbo with a few nice upgrades. We’re still a year away from being legally able to import late C4s like this, but what will it cost?
My first real car was a B5 Audi A4 1.8t, which means everything related to the B5 RS4 was “it.” That was the holy grail and everything the B5 chassis aspired to be. It had all the little special touches and had just enough differences that made it far from just a B5 S4 Avant with more power. Even more, you are waiting until 2025 to even see one in the US outside of a few rare examples that made their way in. This was the car. Even now that these cars are 20 years-old, the want is still there and the prices reflect that. Today’s example, a 2001 finished in Goodwood Green, is checking all the boxes for me. Just four more years, right?
Update 12/26/20: This 200 20V quattro is back up with better photos!
By my account, I seem to have the market cornered on writing up Bamboo Metallic 1991 Audi 200 20V Avants. When today’s example popped up near me in Connecticut, I thought at first that it was the same as the last 200 20V Avant that I looked at in the Constitution State:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
An easy mistake, given that 1) they were both in Connecticut b) they were the same color combination and both have Euro headlights and III) there were only 149 imported, so what are the odds?
But that wasn’t the only Bamboo Avant I’ve looked at:
1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avant
Amazingly, that car also had European headlights, but there were enough differences to tell me that wasn’t today’s car either. So welcome to the third installment of my continuing series that I call ‘1991 Audi 200 20V quattro Avants in Bamboo over Travertine for sale‘. Surely it can’t go to a fourth episode?
The B8 A4 Avant is a pretty good looking car; but here in the US we were only offered the chassis in one figuration; the 2.0T quattro hooked to an automatic. Even when the “Allroad” returned to the lineup, it was really only an appearance package on the standard A4 with taller springs and larger sidewall tires. Considering the plethora of options that had been available on prior Audi wagons, it was an understandable disappointment.
Inspired by this, enthusiasts have sought to remedy the problem by combining the Avant’s platform with its sibling powertrain; this feels like ‘throwback’ tuning at its best! So here we have an ’09 A4 Avant that’s running the gear from a S4. Sweet! The thing is, it’s not quite complete…
To me, if you’re going to go through the effort to get into a B6 and pay a lot of money as you would with the 2004 A4 3.0 quattro Avant Ultrasport I just looked at, why would you not consider the S4 Avant? Not only is it a lot more powerful, you could get them in splashy colors, and with a 6-speed manual to boot. Add in better seats, better looking wheels, and…well, better stuff, there’s only one real reason to not consider the S4 over the A4 – and that’s the engine’s incomprehensible chain system.
But let’s say that the chain repair upgrade was already done, for argument’s sake…
Just like BMW’s E46 ZHP package, which was effectively an M3 without the flares and M engine, Audi, too, had a “Diet S4” in the B6 generation. Dubbed the Ultrasport Package, for $3,000 it included RS-inspired “Celebration” 18″ wheels with summer tires, the lowered 1BE suspension that was part of the normal Sport package, a unique quattro GmbH/Votex body kit, and a nicely wrapped leather steering wheel and shift knob. It also limited your interior option to black, and a fair chunk of them appear in Light Silver Metallic – also a popular choice on the S4. Unlike the 330i, the USP A4’s engine choices weren’t upgraded, but you did at least have two – the AWM 1.8T rated at 170 horsepower, or the AVK 3.0 30V V6 good for 220 horsepower. Both were available with choice of 6-speed manual (*5-speed for the FWD models) or automatic, and the basic 1.8T model was about $10,000 less than the 330i. While there was no convertible/coupe USP to compare to the 330i, Audi maintained its trump card on sporty wagons. Just like the ZHP, today the USP A4s command a strong premium in the used market, especially as Avants:
Friends, the great experiment is finally underway. For generations, US fans have lamented Audi’s all-out refusal to bring its fastest wagons to the US market since 1991. Starting with the first generation S4 Avant and S6 Plus with their thundering (and optional) V8s, through the RS2, RS4, and RS6s, Audi has seemed convinced that it would not be able to sell the top-tier fast wagons here. They’re not alone; BMW has also robbed US enthusiasts of the best wagon offerings as we’ve seen, yet Mercedes-Benz has managed to eek out a market here over the past decade and change and has become the defacto boss of fast five doors, minus an occasional Cadillac interloper.
A few weeks ago, though, I saw the first shipment of fully-wrapped RS6s arrive at the port next to my home. Audi’s no longer playing around, and the full-fat 4.0T cranking out 561 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with a hybrid assistance motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission, it’s no surprise the numbers are staggering. 0-60 is a hair over 3 seconds, and it’ll bury the needle close to 200 mph if deregulated. This isn’t a supercar; this is a five-passenger wagon that weighs in just over 5,000 lbs – with nothing in it! Also staggering? The tech, with touchscreens, virtual cockpit, and torque-vectoring. The tires, measuring 285/30 and 22″ in diameter. The brakes, which are 16.5″ in front and ‘only’ 14.6″ out back. And, the price. Last I heard there was already a wait for these cars, and that’s despite the monster pricetag starting at $110,000. Lucky for you, you don’t have to wait…as long as you’re willing to pay:
Why would anyone even contemplate paying nearly $80,000 for a 26 year old, complicated and turbocharged Audi wagon? Because of the badge that adorns the front – the magical ‘Renn’ added to the S2 badge, along with the legendary name Porsche scripted below. That meant that this relatively unassuming Audi 80 quattro Avant had been produced in Zuffenhausen on the 959 production line rather than Ingolstadt or Neckarsulm and had added a healthy dose of even more “Sport” to the small chassis. Ostensibly, though the Sport Quattro was the first RS vehicle, the RS2 was the first to wear the badge which has become synonymous with Audi’s speed department. For many Audi aficionados, though the RS vehicles have become much faster and more luxurious, just like the with W124 500E and the E30 M3 Audi has never made a car better in its overall execution than the original. Not that it was slow by any means; Porsche’s massaging of the ADU inline-5 resulted in 311 horsepower – even more than the Sport Quattro had from essentially a very similar motor.
So despite being much heavier than the Sport had been, the RS2 wasn’t much slower; sub-5 seconds to 60 and a top speed north of 160 mph. Along the way, it was capable of bullying everything outside of a supercar; yet this car also established the move from Audi’s 2-door halo vehicle to a long line of fast five doors. Porsche also upgraded the brakes and wheels with Brembo units and 17″ ‘Cup 1’ wheels creating a signature look, and tacked on 911 mirrors for good measure. So, too, was the color signature; original called RS Blue rather than the color name it’s often mistaken for – the later Nogaro – bright blue is still the go-to shade for Audi’s fastest and was just announced on the launch of the new RS6 Avant. Even within its fast contemporaries, this car was legendary, and the upgrades to the motors and wheels spawned an entire generation of enthusiasts to turn up their inline-5s stateside. Now that these cars are legal for importation, a steady stream have been coming up for sale: