December 12, 2004

Project Audi B6 S4: Intro / Snow Shoes
Text & Photos by Jason Teller

New vehicle purchases can be stressful for both veteran and new buyers alike. A friend once mused that cars were the single most expensive and quickest depreciating true luxury item people ever own in their lives. By and large he was right, since a $15,000 Hyundai and a $50,000 Audi both provide the same basic utility in getting from point A to point B (the luxury of performance, safety and, well, the luxury of luxury itself aside).

In the case of a new S4, however, there was really never a question of buying anything else. Already a B5 S4 owner and 100% loyal to the brand, the new S4 was really the only choice. Dropping to a mere A4 was not a consideration and without the financial means to procure the latest generation A8, the S4 (until the recently launched A6 4.2) was the only newer Audi in the lineup with the desired V8 umph under the hood. The RS4 and RS 6 will always be dangling out there in case of financial windfall, but the B6 S4 remains the logical step up for B5 S4 owners who want to stay in the B segment.

Returning to this notion of vehicles as luxury items, we believe that if somebody can truly afford luxury wheels amongst his or her other financial commitments then ultimately there is a choice that has been made between the car or perhaps other more commonly-labeled luxury items like boats, snowmobiles, audio visual gear, wine collections and the like. It would be nice to have it all and certainly some people do, but cars - and the joy of owning and operating the really good ones - are legitimate indulgences. What never changes, however, is that buyers still have to locate the right car and strike a fair deal. The dealer experience is critical.

In our case we returned to the scene of our first S4 purchase - Laurel Audi of Westmont (Westmont, IL) - because, as already stated, once the decision is made to go forward with an automobile purchase it all comes down to the financial and emotional ease associated with that purchase.

Part of the AutoNation family and headed up by General Manager Jim DaLuga, Laurel Audi is a first class Audi dealership located southwest of Chicago and equally close to both Midway and O'Hare International Airports. We point this out specifically because these folks are worth checking out for any new (or used) Audi purchase and one-way tickets to Midway or O'Hare from most parts of the US are extremely affordable. More than a few Laurel Audi customers have gotten their deals negotiated via phone, flown to Chicago and had a road trip home to look forward to in their new cars.

We dealt mainly with Ed Riedmaier, an easy-going salesrep with a long and successful automotive sales background. Ed gives it to you straight and knows his Audi product well enough to keep up with even the discussion forum junkies. His combination of credibility and willingness to get the deal done make him very pleasant to work with.

Importantly, Laurel Audi does significant volume giving them access to a large number of cars and model/trim variations. They are also, based on their central location and aforementioned access to vehicle combinations, typically able to very quickly track down a specific vehicle even if a trade with another dealer is required. Now a customer for the second time, we feel very good about recommending this dealership to anybody who is not currently locked into a tight dealer-customer relationship of their own.

Delivery of Project B6 S4 occured the last day of June 2004 and the car went through the mandatory break-in period with things starting to get interesting by mid July. There were previous AudiWorld roadtest articles covering the B6 S4 both in early 2003 and again in the summer of 2004, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to provide a general review in this Project Car introduction.

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