While it feel like most modern Audis have swapped to automatic-only configuration, there were some bright spots. The R8 and TT soldiered on for some time with manual options, as did the A3 and A4. The B8 A4 we see here comes from the year before the model’s refresh, but it carries some desirable options. By the time of the B8, engine options had diminished to the 2.0T rated at 211 horsepower, but you could have FrontTrak, quattro, or quattro Avant options in that time. The Avant couldn’t be had with a manual, but the sedan could, and there were several trim packages that dress up the appearance of the A4 as well. Today’s example has the 18″ Sport Package, which gave you (wait for it) 18″ wheels, sport suspension, and front sport seats, and it’s got the manual transmission option ticked.
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…
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Audi A4/S4 Avant on eBay
The Audi S4, now in its 7th iteration, has been a perennial performance favorite of those who like the understated looks coupled with all-weather performance. And since the original, the S4 has offered a unique tuning platform; while the B6 and B7 were difficult to extract extra performance out of, the other generations have offered forced induction out of the box that allows for generous tuning potential for a real sleeper supercar slayer. 1,000 horsepower isnâ€™t unheard of out of the legendary inline-5, but power numbers exceeding 400 seem to be almost commonplace for the C4 and B5 S4s. So when Audi launched the supercharged V6 model in 2009, the return to a smaller displacement forced induction powerplant immediately had me thinking that it wouldnâ€™t be long until tuned versions appeared. The trick in buying a S4, though, is and always has been managing to find an unmodified one that is well cared for but also affordable. After all, for under $10,000 you can run out and grab any one of the first three generations â€“ however, the less you spend up front, the more likely youâ€™ll be dishing out of pocket in the future it seems. But as we get towards the newer generation of B8 you can get a car that is still quite new for a substantial discount over the original purchase price without (generally) the fears of abuse, neglect and immediate repairs that need to be undertaken. Today’s example has the right ingredients; mileage is in check, it’s a manual, and it’s a neat color. But is it the right one to get?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Audi S4 on eBay
Audi’s C5 allroad wasn’t the first tall all-wheel drive wagon to hit the market; AMC claimed that crown with the Eagle well before Audi’s Quattro even hit the market. But it somehow defined the luxury do-anything segment and was unique in the German marques; Audi brought massive amounts of computational power, height-adjustable air suspension, a wide-body flare kit, twin-turbocharged power and even a manual gearbox. It was awesome. It was popular. But, it broke so much that even MacGyver was left stranded..
So when it came to the original allroad’s replacement for the B8 chassis, Audi dropped pretty much all the cool stuff. Gone was the manual, gone was the V6, gone too were the twin turbos and height-adjustable suspension. Audi simplified the recipe and based the newer allroad on the A4 Avant. Power came from the same 2.0T TFSI inline-4 mated solely to an 8-speed automatic found in the regular A4, pumped up the ride height slightly and added matte black fender lips and Voila! Miffy had a new ride to get to Nordstrom. Worse for some enthusiasts, the advent of the allroad came at the expense of the regular (and attractive) A4 Avant. Disappointed? Me too. But hey, every once in a while a good-looking one comes around…
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 Audi allroad on eBay
Just the other day, an old car friend of mine contacted our group of enthusiasts with an interesting challenge. He currently owns a Nissan 370Z, and while he really likes the car he’s got a family and needs something a bit more practical. So he queried the group; what car should he get in the $40,000 range that was special, fast, had 4-doors and a manual transmission?
Several thoughts came to mind, and I’m sure that everyone’s head is already spinning like mine did. While immediately several went to BMW M products like the E39 M5, I had an alternate suggestion which also considered where my friend lives – New Hampshire. ‘What about the Audi S4?’ I suggested. He admitted had hadn’t thought of one, in part because he previously owned a S4 – in his case a B5 – and didn’t love the driving experience.
Well, since the S4 has come a long way since the 1990s in power, technology, size and driving experience. And what has emerged is a very impressive all-arounder which flies under the radar. The supercharged V6 in the B8 gave a healthy 333 horsepower an Russian steppe-flat torque curve with 325 lb.ft available from 3,000 rpms straight through 5,250. This power could be channeled through two increasing rare options to find in electronics-heavy cars – a manual gearbox and a sport differential. Okay, 333 horsepower doesn’t sound outlandish in today’s world. But as with fast Audis of the past, the B8 and 8.5 made efficient use of that power and putting it down on the ground, making them capable of 4.4 second 0-60 sprints and a 13 second quarter-mile. This is a car which punches above its weight class, capable of embarrassing unsuspecting muscle cars.
Yet it retains its luxury-oriented character and go-anywhere all-wheel drive options, along with the practicality of offering 4-doors. And like ‘Q-Ships’ from the past, outside of a few extra exhaust ports and slightly flashier badging, most people would be hard-pressed to differentiate this serious performance package from the normal A4 wrapper. But that doesn’t mean that this car has to be boring, and you could select a few beautiful exterior colors such as this Volcano Red Metallic example: