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A Used Audi RS4 Is 'The' Audi You Need To Buy Right Now

Smart Buy / Comments

As far as investments go, this one won't lose you much.

Europeans have been enjoying Audi RS cars since 1994 when the RS2 Avant arrived on the scene. We never got that car in the United States and it wasn't until 2003 when the first RS6 arrived that we first got a taste of Audi's wonderful RS cars. After the RS6, Audi took a four model year break until the B7 generation RS4 finally graced US roads.

We have never had an RS4 in the US, before or since, making the B7 generation quite special outside of Europe. It is also one of the rarest RS cars, which is why prices have hit rock bottom and don't seem to be going any lower. If you are looking for a fun weekend car that won't go down in value, the RS4 should be on your list.

Audi
Audi

Why You Should Buy One

The RS4 arrived just ahead of the first (and only) V8-powered BMW M3 and the Mercedes C63 AMG. But unlike the BMW that offered a dual-clutch transmission and the Mercedes that was automatic only, the Audi was only available with a row-it-yourself six-speed manual. At the time this may have been seen as a nod to the past and a hindrance to performance but more than a decade later, it's what has kept the RS4 as a timeless classic compared to its contemporaries.

Audi only built around 10,000 B7 RS4s for the entire world and only about 2,000 of those ever made their way to the US. The RS4 was offered as either a sedan or a convertible while Europe was lucky enough to receive an Avant version and some nicer Recaro seats. You will pay less for a convertible RS4 but performance isn't nearly as good.

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Audi
Audi
Audi
Audi

The Price

Audi sold the RS4 in the US for just two model years, 2007 and 2008, and pricing is highly dependent on condition and mileage. Most of these cars have been driven well over 70,000 miles by now and the cars with this mileage in pretty good condition command around $30,000. If you can find a pristine one with less than 50,000 miles on the odometer, expect to pay closer to $40,000.

Most people never thought the RS4 would be a collectible so there are plenty of well-driven examples with over 100,000 miles priced around $20,000 or below. We found examples for as low as around $15,000 but as we'll soon explain, it might be worth spending more on a well-documented example to avoid unseen maintenance costs. These cars may be affordable to purchase but they are anything but cheap to run.

Audi
Audi

The Performance

All RS4s are powered by a 4.2-liter V8 engine producing 420 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque - it's the same engine that was later used in the first R8. As you'd expect from an engine with lower torque than horsepower, the RS4 loves to be revved out to its peak redline of 8,250 rpm. On its way to that intoxicating redline, the RS4 will hit 60 mph in around 4.6 seconds on its way to a 155 mph top speed. A modern RS3 or RS5 would take the RS4's lunch money in a drag race but its performance still isn't considered slow by today's standards. Like all RS cars, the RS4 lays its power down to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system so even if you live in a cold climate, you can drive it all year round.

Audi
Audi
Audi

The Interior

Even more than a decade ago, Audi interiors were luxurious yet understated compared to cabins from BMW or Mercedes. The RS4 didn't lean too heavily into the technology of the day, which is why the cabin still looks fairly modern by today's standards. Audi's head unit at the time was not a touchscreen and instead relies on a scroll knob with four corner buttons corresponding to zones on the screen. It would be frustrating to use compared to a modern touchscreen head unit but aftermarket companies make look-a-like systems with touch functionality and CarPlay/Android Auto.

If you do find an RS4 in well-kept condition, the materials still feel luxurious even today. The mid-2000s were a high-point for Audi interior design as the company made major leaps in quality. The RS4 gets some unique touches like carbon-fiber trim and sporty Recaro seats, but we recommend ordering the Recaros that came on the European models that look cooler and have better bolstering.

Audi

The Practicality

We think the RS4 is the perfect size for a compact sedan but when you compare it to modern vehicles, it may seem a bit small. The back seat offers 34.3 inches of legroom, which is actually less than you'll get in a modern RS3. Likewise, the trunk only houses 10.2 cubic feet but can open to 59 cubic feet with the seats folded. And since this is a nearly 4,000-pound sedan with AWD and a powerful V8, fuel economy is pretty abysmal at 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

Then there's the maintenance. No German performance sedan from this era is cheap to fix but the RS4 carries a unique set of issues. Fortunately, the RS4 avoids the timing chain tensioner issue found on the lesser S4 but carbon buildup can be troublesome for cars that haven't been driven hard regularly. Budget for a carbon cleaning every 15,000 miles or so. This engine is also prone to burning up oil, so be wary and be sure to check your oil level. If you are diligent with the maintenance and can do some of the work yourself, the RS4 isn't impossible to run without going bankrupt.

Audi

Verdict

The RS4 is one of the most unique cars Audi ever sold in the US and its cool-factor has only gone up over time as sedans and manual transmission both become dying breeds. Things may change by the time the European RS4 Avant becomes eligible to import to the US but as it sits, there are fewer than 2,000 of these cars running around the US and that number will only go down as people crash them or fail to keep them maintained. If you spend around $30,000 on an RS4 today, we can see it retaining that value for years to come.

Audi
Audi

Gallery

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Photos