Every time another new Audi gets launched without manual transmission or station wagon gets dropped from the lineup here in North America, we hear the same thing. There’s a question of enthusiast bona fides for those who choose Audi’s product mix. Those who plan these cars are also tasked with selling more and more and thus the burgeoning array of automatic crossovers, but the car you see here should be proof enough that enthusiasts inside Audi of America headquarters are alive and well.
Technically this particular car is built with the Nogaro Blue Design Package. The name itself is enough of a spoiler as to what it is, but the explanation bears detailing just the same. Nogaro Blue, obviously enough, is the name of the very primary blue you see on this car. Initially used by Audi in the early 1990s on the RS2 Avant, the color gained more wide-ranging cult status when it became a standard issue offering on the B5-generation S4 launched just before the millennium. In these forms, the color was usually paired with black leather interiors featuring center panels shod in matching bold blue Alcantara synthetic suede. The color was used in standard production through the end of the B6 era, and cars featuring this setup tend to be more sought after by collectors than more conventional combinations.
Now nearly a decade since Nogaro Blue went away as standard S4 color, Audi product planners have brought it back for a limited run… well sort of. The team at Audi of America ordered an initial allotment of 20 dubbed “Nogaro Blue Special Edition”. From there, the equipment fitted to those cars was offered as the “Nogaro Blue Design Package” at a premium of $8,100.
What does that include? In addition to the paint, the exterior also includes 19-inch 7-double spoke wheels commonly referred to as “the B7 RS 4 wheel” by enthusiasts. Most of the upgrades reside in the interior though. Here you’ll see the S4’s S Sport seats done in black leather with blue Alcantara center segments. Matching blue Alcantara is also found on the door panels, along with aluminum Audi exclusive badges. To further differentiate, Audi dipped into the European market RS 4 partsbin for Aluminum Race beltline trim, perforated shift knob and fatter flat-bottom steering wheel also perforated.
Our test car was one of those later cars ordered with the Nogaro Blue Design Package. In addition to that, it also came at the Prestige level of equipment that includes Audi adaptive lights, Audi side assist, Bang & Olufsen sounds system, Audi MMI Navigation plus package and Audi connect. A rear Sport Differential was also added, all bringing the total price as tested including destination charge to $64,095.00.
Purists will appreciate the fact that the Audi S4 can still be ordered with a manual transmission. Interestingly, the UK and the USA are the only remaining markets where this can be done, and our car proved to be a refreshing break from the slushbox norm so common in modern cars. Of course, the S4’s optional 7-speed DSG is a respectable option that’ll prove more efficient and likely faster on the track, but we still enjoyed the hell out of rev matching and rowing our own gears. It all seemed a very fitting harkening back to the original S4 to which this car pays tribute.
Like any other S4, our test car is powered by Audi’s 3.0 TFSI supercharged V6. In this application, that means peak horsepower of 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. We’ve always found this engine to be a great addition to the S4’s B8 chassis. It offers plenty of torque down low and with nearly no audible supercharger wine. Power is robust enough to make the car nearly as quick as an RS 5 or European market RS 4, and yet it remains more fuel-efficient and with less weight to push around in the nose. Additionally, that optional Sport Differential is a must-have, affording the car with unrivalled stability when needed and offering throttle-on oversteer handling dynamic should the driver have the capabilities.
Given the price and the bold color, this car as configured isn’t for everyone. The color is in-your-face, so buyers with a taste for vanilla and a preference Buick beige will likely turn the other way. That’s fine. Audi enthusiasts will know it and appreciate it, something we found throughout the week we spent with the car.
So then, it is a bold choice. It is also not a cheap choice. Even still, for connoisseurs of tailored Audi Exclusive cars, this car may actually be a bargain. Even if you could order all of this equipment on an S4, which you can’t in America, you’d never be able to piecemeal the kit together and come out at the price of the Nogaro Design Package. Consider it a micro batch then, as if Audi has taken a play from the playbook of a microbrewery or specialty ice cream shop and created a highly specialized treat for the discerning enthusiast customer.
Interested in a Nogaro Design Package car? Last we’d heard, the package was a stand-alone that could still be ordered on a new car. Even still, that could take several months. Looking around at dealers close to this website, we’re learning that, even though they’re rare, these cars are out there and in dealer showrooms. A savvy buyer could and should check inventories and consider searching one of these out.
As we prepared to hand back the keys to our bold blue S4, we were left with one final consideration. Does the car harken back to those much-loved Nogaro S4s of the pre-millenium? In execution, we’d say yes. Build quality and materials seem better and more refined than the 1990s cars, but there’s no denying the lineage. As for size, the current B8 S4 is closer in size to that latter day S4’s larger S6 sibling. Though, while it’s larger, it’s also more agile and more refined. In as much, it represents a way for someone to go back without sacrificing the luxuries one might expect in a modern luxury car. It is a Nogaro Blue S4 for a grown up S4 enthusiast.