Currently, the Audi A4 is in its fifth generation. The very first generation of A4, the B5, started it all and happened to be a very good car. But it wasn’t until the second generation, the B6, that the A4 really became a true contender in the segment dominated by the BMW 3 Series. The B6 Audi A4 is still considered by many to be the best A4. But is that necessarily the case?
The B6 was certainly the last of the pure A4s. After the B6 came the B7, which was more a refresh than an entirely new model, but had a new electric power steering system that sucked away the steering feel and lost the naturally-aspirated 3.0 liter V6. After the B7 came the B8, which got bigger in every respect, more technological and less communicative. Many big Audi enthusiasts find the B8 to be the worst of the A4 family, as it was too big, heavy and numb. The new B9 is still too new, and not even out yet in North America, so it can’t really be judged as of yet, though it’s supposed to be excellent. So the B6 is really the last of the pure driver’s car A4s.
The B6 came with two engines. One being VW Group’s 1.8 liter turbocharged engine, making 170 hp, which was paired to either a six-speed manual, five-speed automatic (with Quattro) or a CVT (front-wheel drive). The other engine was the 3.0 liter V6 which made 220 hp and came with the same set of transmissions. Many enthusiasts will claim that the 1.8T, six-speed manual car is the one to have, as it can easily be tuned to have a ton of horsepower. However, purists (like myself) will want the 3.0 liter V6 paid to the three-pedal ‘box for the pure feeling and noise of the naturally aspirated V6.
But what made the B6 more special than the other A4s was the way it felt. It was smooth and sophisticated in the way it handled. The B5 was good, but it was a bit too stiff and a bit sloppy. The B6 is a smooth criminal and had tight athletic responses. It also had more sharp and direct steering, which slowly started to fade as the generations went on.
It also had the best looks, in my humble opinion. The B7 was prettier in the face, but the B6 had more subtle, classier looks that grow on you the more you look at it. The B6 Audi A4 is possibly the best A4 in the model line’s history because it was simply the most complete and pure sports send package of the bunch. While many may feel that it’s not the best A4, it’s the one I’d have in my driveway.