It’s counterintuitive, but we just went from wanting an S4 to an A4 (work with us on this)

For awhile, one of the cars we’ve had our eye on as our next was the B6 or B7 S4 Avant (note that our cars see double duty, necessitating the big boot, five doors, and added girth that that typically entails; much as we’d love a dedicated track car, it realistically won’t be for at least another few years). Well, consider us converts (sorta) after our most recent track excursion. We were so impressed (again) by the kleiner GTI and its strong, torquey two-liter engine – not to mention its relatively light, tossable chassis – that we decided we wanted to try retaining some of that nimble feel in our next car. Only problem is, the S4 is anything but.

Enter the A4. We know, the A4 is likewise neither of those two things, but at least it’s closer, roughly splitting the difference in curb weight between the GTI (which is closer to the 3000 lbs end of the spectrum) and the S4 (closer to 4000 lbs). But wait, it gets better. Yes, the 2.0T that feels so lively in the GTI is anemic in the heavy, Quattro-laden Audi (we’d want the AWD version of the Avant and not the front driver, since driving in the snow is fun). Thankfully, it remains an eminently tunable engine (coming pretty heavily detuned from the factory as it is), with 93 octane ECU upgrades good for up to 240 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. That’s almost as many “torques” as the S4 (though admittedly, it’s still down about a hundred ponies). An intake and exhaust round things out a bit further, although this is probably where we’d call it a day— our preference is to spend mod money on suspension, brakes, and tires. The end result is a decently robust wagon, but with a bit of a lighter and nimbler feel than the heavier-still S4.

Downsides? Well the seats, for starters. The S4’s firm, bolstered Recaros are certainly attractive, but the A4’s flabby armchairs give us serious pause. Replacing them with something more appropriate for spirited driving would be a costly – but necessary – upgrade. Will we miss that absolutely intoxicating V8 rumble, the one that had us hooked (for good, we thought) in the first place? Absolutely. The four-cylinder’s note is downright chintzy in comparison, and somehow manages to sound worse in the Audi than it does in the VW (all in the name of so-called refinement, no doubt).

But we think we’ll live. At the end of the day, we suspect we’ll prefer balance and handling dynamics to muscle car snorts and S car exclusivity. For all the world-beater noises that the 4.2 makes, if it’s not going to be fun driving on backroads or on the track (and the jury there appears very much to be out), we’re not going to be happy; ergo, the A4 (we know, it still sounds backwards). And besides, by halving the number of cylinders, we’ll take some additional comfort in knowing we’ll be saving a small fortune at the pump.

Now, to just find a low miles, Ibis White, 6MT 2.0T S-line Avant with Quattro. Something like so:

Let us know if you think we’re nuts.

(Images via Jonny Sundell and

~ by velofinds on June 16, 2010.

10 Responses to “It’s counterintuitive, but we just went from wanting an S4 to an A4 (work with us on this)”

  1. I’ve thought about this a lot. Haven’t run numbers to see if it makes financial sense though. I’ve been looking for a E46 or E90 touring most recently as a dual duty vehicle.

  2. it might not make financial sense- i haven’t run the numbers either. it could just be very expensive to mod the car to where it needs to be. but an s4 would also need to be modded. and i am increasingly of the belief that it’s just too much weight to hustle through corners. all that mass is a lot of stress on the tires.

    still unhappy the e91 335i (the touring) is not offered here. then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  3. You’re not nuts. I actually came to that same conclusion, but while trying to find said A4 with S-package and MT (no where to be found in my area) I couldn’t pass up the 0% financing that VW was offering and so purchased a 2009 black, base model GTI…

  4. I think ya’ll are nuts… And I’ll prove it to you just as soon as I sell my dot-com. The S4 weights no more than that beacon of sporting prowess, the Almighty M3.
    and no one would ever say that the E90 M3 wasn’t nimble.
    3700# each, simular power, AWDvsRWD wagon vs saloon. And we both know that the Audi has a better interior and is much more usefull on a day-to-day basis. Heck, I can even put my longboard INSIDE an S4. Now that’s sporting!

  5. You can also consider insurance. The difference between under 300HP and over was a huge difference In CA al least) .My friend turned in a WRX for an STI and for the insurance increase he could have upgraded the WRX to STI HP numbers easily. Might be the same for s4/a4.

  6. @colin: i still love the s4, but two comments:

    – the stat seems off by at least a hundred lbs, if not more
    – i think even with similar weight, how that weight gets distributed (and where the power gets sent) makes a big difference. the b6/b7 has a lot of nose overhang, a lot of that weight lives over the front axle. the s4 is also inherently a FWD-platform car. neither applies to the e90.

  7. It’s not a crazy idea at all. Granted if I had the money a S4 Avant would be in my driveway right now, but I am of simple means. The 2.0t avant is a perfect mix of dd(real world use) and track toy(mod til the block blows up). The b7 is a looker even with the refresh lights.

  8. I had the chance to pull the trigger on a ’08 Ibis White A4 2.0T 6MT Sline – it was a good deal but I ultimately felt like I was giving up more in the driving dynamic area compared to my E46.

    When it comes down to it – I just prefer RWD over AWD – that said the B8 has massive grip and is very quick in its 4 cylinder guise.

  9. I’m a very aesthetic fellow… And as such I dig the way the Audi wagons look. I know that the V8 in the B7 wagon is way up front, and as such really does no good for the handling of the car. I’m told that the twin turbo V6 was a great car, partially because of the weight, and I’m holding out hope that the SC v6 wagon will make it over here… I myself am a RWD guy, I’ve only recently begun to appreciate the AWD because of a ride down a dirt road in a well driven STI.
    Best of luck in your search for the perfect A4!

  10. My OTL has an ’07 white A4 2.0T 6-speed, but it’s a sedan. It’s a ton of fun and I can only imagine what it’d be like tuned up. And wagoned. The fun thing about the 2.0T is that a lot of the chips improve gas mileage too, which can factor in when you’re talking double duty.

    I hear what you’re saying about the S4 growl, but if you’re really looking at some practicality sheeyit, the A4 makes a ton of sense and would be SO much fun.

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