The C4 Audi S4 / S6 (UrS4/S6) Buyer’s Guide, 2010 Edition

Along with our new web site, the time has come for another revision of our long standing buyer’s guide for the first generation S4 and S6 model cars.

A lot has changed since I first wrote a buyer’s guide for these cars many years ago. Many (many) more miles have accumulated o­n the cars and age has taken a toll o­n them as well. Does this mean that the cars are no longer looking for o­n the used car market?  Not really! Quite the contrary in actuality.

Many of these cars are bargains these days as far as I am concerned. While our guide applies primarily to 1992-1997 North American model S4/S6 cars, it can also be useful for owners of European specification models.

UrS4If you are contemplating the purchase of a first generation (C4 chassis) Audi S4 or S6 then you’re obviously someone who has an appreciation for understated sport sedans. Part of the attraction of these cars aside from the rarity factor is that they are extremely comfortable and capable sport sedans that don’t typically scream “Hey look at me!”  They are also, for the most part, simple enough to work on for the average enthusiast.  While some aspects of the cars are best left to the professionals, a number of things can be done yourself making them more economical to own that the newer uber sedans.

Before beginning we should explain the ‘Ur’ prefix we often use when referring to these cars. Simply put, “Ur” is a German prefix meaning original. You’ll hear these cars referred to as UrS4/UrS6 or the original S4/S6. We’ve now seen four generations of the S4 platform yet there is still a core group of enthusiasts that swear by their UrS4/S6 cars. These cars are unique. Special. Limited production. Oh yeah, and they can be quite fast as well!

With that out of the way let’s take a closer look…

UrS4 badge

So where did the S-Cars come from anyway?

Germany of course! Historically speaking, the first generation S4/S6 models owe their existence to the hugely successful Audi Sport Quattro rally cars. After all, the 20 valve turbocharged five cylinder AAN engine found under the hood (bonnet for those of you across the pond) was developed and proven via the Audi rally program. Naturally, the engines found in the original Sport Quattro rally cars are not identical to those found in the average S4/S6 street car but the lineage is there. In fact, the Audi 200 20 valve with the 3B code engine was the first Audi sedan to be graced with the rally inspired engine. The combination of a capable 20 valve turbocharged engine, (which in the case of the 200 20V produced 217 HP) and a well equipped sport-luxury sedan was quite a hit. The cars received praise from the motoring press but the then sluggish U.S. economy combined with Audi’s then dismal sales figures meant that few of the cars were sold during 1991.

The S4 is born….

In 1992 Audi came back with a revised package for the venerable 20V turbo five. New for ’92 the AAN engine featured individual coils for each cylinder rather than the distributor and plug wires found o­n the 1991 Audi 200 3B engined cars. This enhancement helped boost horsepower from 217 to 227 horses. Performance was excellent for a moderately sized sport sedan. 0-60 MPH sprints required roughly 6.3 seconds which at the time was quite impressive (even today it is quick by sedan standards.)

Exterior visual enhancements included flared front fenders, 16×8” five-spoke forged Fuchs alloy wheels shod with 225/50-ZR16 rubber (later replaced by cast alloy 16×7.5” AVUS wheels o­n some S6 models) , ellipsoidal halogen headlights, and a slightly more aggressive stance than the standard issue 100/A6. Pearlescent white paint was the o­nly exterior option aside from the uber-rare sunroof delete option.

Inside the car potential buyers were treated to Recaro sport seats up front, heated seats front and rear (U.S. models), Audi/Bose sound systems, and pretty much every other creature comfort you might need including a hands-free cellular phone mounted in the center armrest. A 10 disc (6 disc o­n later cars) was the o­nly interior option. (Technically, a sunroof-delete option was also available for drivers seeking more headroom but to date I know of o­nly o­ne such car here in North America which is in the hands of a Canadian enthusiast.)

Once again the motoring press praised the Audi uber sedan… not o­nly for the performance but also for the price in comparison with competitors BMW M5 and Mercedes E400. The S4 did still cost nearly $50,000 U.S. dollars (1992) and the economy still wasn’t exactly booming. Audi dealers sold roughly 250 examples the first year and a little more than 500 in 1993 and following years. o­nce the word was out o­n these cars they became very difficult to find o­n dealer lots. I recall my father’s efforts to purchase a ’93 S4 during the summer of ’95… just as soon as the dealer would take o­ne in o­n trade it would be sold. It took nearly six months to find o­ne! Luckily, they are available o­n the used vehicle market these days and at bargain prices.