Every group of car enthusiasts has that car, a car that they all fawn over relentlessly every time they see one or talk about one. For Audi enthusiasts, that car is the original B5 Audi S4.
The B5 Audi S4 came with a 2.7 liter bi-turbo V6 engine that, when stock, delivered 250 hp through either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels. The 2.7 liter engine of the B5 S4 is revered by nearly every Audi enthusiast as being one of the best engines to ever come from Ingolstadt, second to only the famous 2.5 liter Quattro engine, and is constantly being tuned to create monster power gains by enthusiasts. However, Matt Farah of /Drive recently got a couple of highly-tuned B5 S4s, one sedan and one Avant, to see if they live up to the hype.
Unfortunately, that answer is no. But we already knew that of course. The B5 S4 is beloved for what it was and what it was was fast. However, it never handled well, at all, and basically fell apart around you as you drove. So it wasn’t actually that great of a car. But holy hell, what an engine.
Farah gets to drive the two S4s, owned by the same person, and gives a remarkably similar review of both even though both cars are tuned extremely differently.
First up is the Laser Red Audi A4 Avant. To start off, this A4 Avant is extremely rare, as only 18 red A4 Avant manuals ever made their way to the US market. But that’s neither here nor there. Justin, the car’s owner, was able to tune the A4 Avant to have 400 hp at the wheels, 150 more than the stock car. Quite a lot of engine work was done to make this much power, but it’s certainly a helluva lot faster than the stock car. However, according to Farah, that’s about the only metric in which it’s any better. Not that Justin’s car is bad, but that B5 S4s weren’t ever really any good. It understeers horribly, thanks to its engine slung way far out past the front axle, and it’s steering is really inaccurate and vague. So it’s not actually the car everyone thinks it is.
Next up is Justin’s Imola Yellow Audi S4 sedan that makes an insane 650 hp at the wheels which, considering the typical Audi Quattro drivetrain power loss, means that it makes around 730 hp at the crank. That’s monstrous. Bilstein PSS9 suspension was fitted, as well as bigger brakes, to handle all of that power. However, again, it isn’t actually all that great to drive. It has the same problems as the first car and it’s going to because they’re both B5 Audi S4s.
Despite their issues though, we still love the B5 S4. It’s silly and powerful and fun to drive, despite the fact that it will actively try and kill you with understeer. But one thing this video does do is take off our rose-tinted glasses. We can look at the B5 Audi S4 for what it was — a likable, but very flawed, performance sedan with a hall-of-fame engine, regardless of its state of tune. Just don’t try and turn in one.