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Spotted: the first Audi S6 Avant

August 25, 2023

Name a sporty station wagon? There are of course several possible answers, but chances are you mentioned the Audi RS6 Avant. Consequently, this is one of the most popular models. Even here in the Netherlands you still see an RS6 Avant driving quite often. But do you also know his distant predecessor (still)? You see the former Audi S and RS models a lot less often in everyday traffic. So this early Audi S6 Avant definitely needed a photo.

Scaling up the S series

The history of the sporty Audi S models began with the S2 models in 1991, of which the Coupe eventually became best known. There was also an S2 Avant. These S2 models are a precursor to the later Audi RS4 models. The sporty concept caught on, and in 1994 Audi decided to expand the offering upward. The Audi S2 models were based on the Audi 80, and based on the larger Audi 100, Audi introduced the S6.

Audi S4 becomes Audi S6

In 1994, Audi opted for a new model name policy. The Audi 80 is succeeded by the first generation Audi A4. The Audi 100 is not yet due for complete replacement, but will be renamed the Audi A6 after a facelift. Names are also being changed for the sporty models. From now on, the Audi S4 is logically the sporty version of the Audi A4. The sporty version of the Audi A6 is now logically called Audi S6.

Audi S6 specifications and performance

On the technical front, not much is happening around this facelift. Although the following specifications, except for some details, also apply to the original S4, for now we will look only at the S6. The Audi S6 was available in two versions, a “regular” S6 and an S6 4.2. Both were in turn available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, and both came as both sedans and Avant. Four-wheel drive was standard for all models.

As the name suggests, the difference was in the engine. In the “regular Audi S6 was the familiar 2.3-liter five-cylinder in-line, producing 169 kW (230 hp). Inside the Audi S6 4.2 was a 4.2-liter V8 with 206 kW (280 hp). The five-cylinder took the car to 100 mph in 6.7 seconds, with a top speed of 241 mph. With the V8, the sprint took only 5.9 seconds and the top speed was 249 km/h. These figures apply to the manual sedans, the station wagons were fractionally slower and with automatic you were even slightly slower, but not much difference.

Overtaking: Audi S6 Avant Plus

In 1996 the sporty top model appeared: the Plus, available only for the Avant. In the process, the power of the V8 was uprated to 240 kW (326 hp), good for a 0-100 time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h. The Audi S6 Avant Plus was also the top sporty model of the entire A6 series, as the RS6 was not around at the time. In 1997, a new generation Audi A6 took over and in 1999 there was a new S6. There was also an RS6 for the first time in 2002.

The spotted specimen

In Hoorn, we saw this 1997 Audi S6 4.2 Avant, in the distinctive bright blue color. The car has been in the Netherlands since 2001 and the current owner has been driving it since 2020. He or a previous owner did fit the car with non-original wheels. On the one hand, too bad for originality, although we like the look of this new set. Otherwise, the Audi looks neatly maintained, as if it is only a few years old, rather than already 26….