Barring something epic appearing beyond the current RS6 Performance (which is already pretty mighty), the days of the V8 Audi Avant are numbered. For much the same reason that so many other iconic performance cars are doomed. Hope still lingers for the petrol-electric RS wagon era - or even an EV one, not least because the e-tron GT is fantastic - though the eight-cylinder cars will be very sorely missed.
The best RS6s were V8-powered, as were the best RS4s - their powertrains played a huge part in that. Not just in the crazy high revving, manual, unrepeatable days, either. When the RS6 switched out its V10 for a V8, a better car resulted. It hasn’t just been the RS models that have benefitted from the engine configuration, however, as back in the good old days there were S models of the A4 and A6 that boasted a V8. Cars just like this S4, in fact.
Nowadays, an S4 and RS4 offer a package quite a lot like their rivals: six turbo’d cylinders, four-wheel drive, eight-speed auto. They’re good enough, but nothing particularly marks them out. Whereas this era, the B6 that’s often forgotten about because it didn’t boast an RS4, offered something not available anywhere else 20 years ago: a compact, handsome family wagon, with a V8 and a manual gearbox.
Which, of course, wasn’t very popular at all. Buyers of this type of car typically want an automatic, because it’s better suited to life as a family holdall. Search for any of these S4s nowadays and the majority are autos. The odd manual does emerge, however, and it’s hard to not be excited by the prospect when they do. An auto from the early 2000s won’t be fun at all; a manual from the early 2000s could still be, and there’s plenty to be said for the rarity factor as well.
These S4s are still a whole lot more affordable than their RS counterparts, too. The B7 RS4 in particular is a much more specialised, more rewarding performance car, but the best examples of those are now £30k. This B6 is just £8,490. Sure, it doesn’t rev as high and it won’t handle as ably - yet it looks like a lot of V8 manual uberwagon for a chunk less than £10k.
It genuinely looks a good’un, too, which can’t always be said for old, powerful Audis. Old, powerful examples of anything that’s become cheap, for that matter. There’s been one advisory in the past eight MOTs (for a numberplate lamp), the service history is said to be mainly Audi main dealer and, while the mileage has now exceeded 100,000, the total averages out at less than 5,500 a year. And isn’t it nice to see an exterior colour that isn’t black, silver or grey?
Encouragingly, furthermore, the last owner has had this car since 2016, so it hasn’t been pushed from pillar to post in recent years as it’s become most affordable. There’s only ever so much to be gleaned from images, but there must surely be many less presentable 20-year-old Audis out there. The ad’s claim of future classic status should probably be taken with a pinch of salt (because that space is probably occupied by the manual RS cars), but for a taste of the old ways with a healthy dose of practicality on top, a lot worse could surely be done. This looks great.
SPECIFICATION | AUDI S4 (B6)
Engine: 4,163cc, V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 344@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 302@3,500rpm
Year registered: 2004
Recorded mileage: 108,386
Price new: £42,050 (2004)
Yours for: £8,490
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