The S4 is no stranger to these pages, offering enthusiasts a “have-your-cake-and-throw-it-squarely-at-that-M3-owner’s-face-too” package that combined functionality and sport in a very discrete wrapper. Well, for the most part they were discrete; most were ordered in shades of gray because a fair amount of people ponying up new were conservative with everything but the money they were paying for this small executive wagon. Lightly optioned, an S4 was about $50,000 in 2004; for comparison’s sake, that’s the equivalent of $25k more than a current S4. That sticker shock masks that the B6 and B7 represented a huge price increase over the B5 generation; out the door, the cost on average about 20% – 30% more only 3 years later – but then, they offered a full 90 horsepower advantage over the twin-turbocharged V6 with that awesome 4.2 V8, which of course could still be combined with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Subtle though the exterior colors may be, the performance on tap was anything but.
While they sold pretty well out of the box, the reality was that they had a reputation for not being the most reliable car – mostly, this was deserved. Coupled with strong depreciation and poor upkeep, this means that finding an early B6 S4 in good shape is pretty hard today. But one dealer has no less than two in pristine condition – likely the result of their combined 40k miles from new. Let’s take a look at the lower-mileage example first: