While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the biggest, baddest, and fastest of every type of car, in the background there are some hidden gems. These jewels are, unfortunately for enthusiasts, getting harder to find – in this case, we have a naturally aspirated, inline-6, rear-drive coupe with a manual gearbox. If that sounds like an endangered species, you’re right – it seems to be. But by forgoing the turbocharger of the bigger brother 335i or twin turbos in the 335iS, jumping into this Liquid Blue Metallic 328i won’t cost you an arm or a leg – a good thing, since you’ll need both of each to drive it.
We tend to focus on the faster or the more unique wagons here at GCFSB, a habit which leaves out a huge swath of competent and quite nice automobiles. A great example is the Audi C6 chassis – the swan song, at least for the time being, for the large Audi wagon in the U.S.. It ended three generations of large Avants here, and while it was ostensibly replaced by a car I love – the hatchback A7 – its presence is still missed. There were only two basic configurations that the C6 Avant was available in here; from 2006-2009, you could get the A6 in wagon form only with the 3.2 V6 and the 6-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. For enthusiasts, that was a bit of a letdown after the plethora of configurations in the C5; no less than 5 different layouts had previously been available. It was strange given the sales success that the C5 enjoyed; Audi chose not only to not bring the go faster V10 S6 and go fastest twin-turbo V10 RS6 here, but the new Allroad also didn’t make the excursion across the seas. Why? Well, quite simply, the sales model in the U.S. had thoroughly changed. While German manufacturers had resisted the temptation to fully delve into the “Sport Utility” market in the early 2000s, but the end of the decade that was just the opposite. Today Audi offers only one wagon option; the A4-based pseudo-offroad Allroad Avant is only available in 2.0T 8-speed auto configuration. Compared that to the early 2000s, when Audi offered fully 6 different wagons with a myriad of different transmission and engine combinations. Only a few short years later, Audi’s model range contained only two wagon options; the A4 Avant remained a popular option, while the A6 seemed to fade into obscurity. You just don’t really see them much, and I live in an area that really loves Audi Avants. Perhaps Audi priced itself out of the market; the base price on a 2006 A6 Avant was a pretty staggering $46,870 before options. Spec one out fully and you were at $60,000 for your family hauler. But for that amount you got a tech-heavy and attractive big wagon that offered pretty respectable performance. The 3.2 V6 had advanced over previous versions considerably; now all-aluminum and offering 255 horsepower, despite the over 4,000 lb. curb weight the Avant scooted to 60 in just a tick over 7 seconds. Opt for the S-Line package, and you got some serious Bologna skins to keep it planted, too – 255-35-19, in the case of this example. Inside was pure luxury, making for a discrete chalet sheppard for you and your four friends: