1992 Audi S4
5-cyl. 2226cc/227hp FI Turbo
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Having honed all-wheel drive performance with its Quattro in the 1980s, Audi decided to create a new high-performance sports sedan based on its A4. The result was the Audi S4, which debuted for 1992. The first generation S4’s engine is a modified version of the previous Audi 100 sedan’s inline five. The 2.2-liter, 20-valve turbocharged and intercooled unit puts out 227 bhp and shifts through a 5-speed manual gearbox, although a 4-speed automatic was on the options list. European drivers also had a 6-speed option. Of course, the Quattro all-wheel drive system came standard. Power assisted rack-and-pinion steering was standard as well, with a speed-sensitive option.
A more exclusive, more powerful version of the Audi S4 debuted in late 1992, powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 and called the S4 Plus, but this was built in very small numbers. The normal five-cylinder S4, meanwhile, was plenty quick and could manage 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. Visually, it distinguished itself with flared fenders, wider Fuchs mag wheels, ellipsoid halogen headlights and stiffer suspension. The only options were pearlescent white paint and a sunroof delete. The S4 was available as a 4-door sedan and also as the Avant Station wagon.
Interior accessories included front Recaro bucket seats, and both front and rear seats were heated. A Bose stereo system was fitted along with a hands-free cellular phone option and 6- or 10- CD option.
Audi dropped the old 100 model name in 1994, rebadging it as the A6. At the same time, Audi discontinued the S4 and introduced an up-rated version renamed the S6. The hiatus was short-lived, however, as Audi reintroduced an S4 model for the 1998 model year. Highly prized at the time and correspondingly expensive at $50,000, production of the first S4s was quite limited. Audi dealers sold 250 examples in 1992 and about 500 through 1993 and 1994.
As comfortable, usable performance sedans, many S4s have accrued high mileages but with proper maintenance they hold up well. As always, full records are vital, since incoming problems tend to result in deferred maintenance and can start any car down a slippery slope.
Bodies were double galvanized, so panel rust is manageable, however rust-belt cars can suffer significantly underneath. With Quattro all-wheel drive the entire car can be stressed, and steering rock mounting points should be checked for cracks. Bumper covers should not be cracked or holed as parts are getting harder to find, and such damage can indicate problems behind the shells as well.
The 5-cylinder engines can accrue more than 200,000 miles with proper care and turbochargers seem equally durable. Bigger RS2 KKK Turbos have been fitted without ill-effects. S4s have a fairly soft ride, but by now any original bushings may need to be replaced. These cars are rare enough in the U.S. that finding the right car can be tedious, but you should still buy the very best example you can afford.