VIDEO: How the Audi S4 saved the brand

This new B9-gen Audi S4 is a great car and one that keeps Audi highly competitive in the segment. However, it’s only the latest in a long line of S4s and it wouldn’t exist today if the original, the B5-generation, hadn’t saved the brand back in the ’90s. In this new video from Donut Media, we find out exactly how.

In the ’80s, the Audi 5000 was one of the brand’s most popular cars. It was comfortable, practical and good to drive. It did have a bit of an issue, though, its infamous unintended acceleration. Customers were experiencing full-throttle acceleration in their cars when applying the brakes, which led to hundreds of accidents and even a few deaths. Audi was up to its eyeballs in lawsuits. Turns out, that it wasn’t actually Audi’s fault, but the fact that customers were stepping on the gas pedal as well as the brake, as the brake pedal was a bit smaller than most Americans were accustomed to and it was rather close to the gas pedal.

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Still, Audi was forced to pay millions in damages and it took a bit hit. That’s where the Audi S4 came in. The brand decided to make a car with all of the same exciting firepower as the UR Audi Quattro Group B Rally car but with four doors, everyday comfort and usable practicality. That car became the original S4, based on the Audi 100. That car didn’t last very long and wasn’t very popular but it did prove to Audi what it could do.

Following that, the B5-gen Audi S4 came along, really the first mass-market S4 and often considered to be the real original S4. It packed a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6, making around 260 hp, and Quattro all-wheel drive. It was instantly competitive with the E36 BMW M3 (North American model, the Euro M3 was a lot faster), the most popular performance sedan/coupe at the time. It was also an instant success.

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Since the B5, the Audi S4 has been one of the brand’s most popular sports cars and has been a huge pillar to its success. While the S4 no longer competes with the BMW M3, as that’s the RS4’s job, it’s still a fantastic and very fast sport sedan and one that will continue to be a staple of Audi’s lineup. Check out this video from Donut media to learn more about the story of the S4 and each generation of it.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.