Currently reading: Used car buying guide: Audi RS4 (2005-2008)
With a 414bhp naturally aspirated V8, a manual gearbox and four driven wheels, the B7-generation Audi RS4 saloon is an absolute bargain, as we explain

Powered by a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 producing 414bhp at a heady 7800rpm and 317lb ft of torque at 5500rpm (90% of it from 2250rpm to 7600rpm), the B7-generation Audi RS4 of 2005-08 made quite an impression – and that was before anyone even drove it.

When they did, you could hear the cries of surprise emanating from the world’s motoring press, not least from Autocar, which judged the RS4 a landmark car for Audi and “really rather likeable” – even with a price of almost £50,000.

Today, this really rather likeable car looks to be a future classic. Muscling in is a new breed of owner who takes maintenance rather more seriously than previous custodians and is prepared to pay top cash for the best. How about £30,000? Fortunately, you don’t have to pay that much. Prices start at around £10,000 for the saloon, with a couple of grand more bagging a decent, sub-100,000-mile example with a good history, while £15,000 will grant you admittance to a pool of not only very nice saloons but also estates and cabriolets.

Click here to buy your next used car from Autocar

That’s correct: this RS4 came in all three bodystyles. Naturally, the saloon and estate are the stiffest, but even the cabriolet is commendably rigid, with just a trace of scuttle shake. Better still, lower the roof and you can hear that V8 in all its splendour. It cost close on £60,000 new but today is no pricier than the equivalent saloon. For the record, its roof should open or close in 21 seconds.

3 Audi rs4 hero front

Being heavier, the estate has slightly stiffer suspension than the saloon. It’s more practical, too, while its likeness to the original RS2 Avant – especially in blue – makes it possibly the most desirable of the trio.

The RS4 was offered with a sixspeed manual gearbox only, which is just fine considering how highly prized manuals are over automatics when it comes to modern classics.

Also on the menu was quattro four-wheel drive, biased to the rear and tuned to provide a modicum of tail-sliding enjoyment and adjustability in corners, and a trick suspension system that kept the whole plot stable and composed.

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It was possible to specify the Sport package for stiffer suspension and a reduced ride height plus side bolsters that grip you more tightly at the press of a button. These really do clamp you tight but, before you get too excited, know that the manual adjustment that came as standard is just fine.

Being an Audi and so built like a battleship, the RS4 has stood the test of time remarkably well. Its all-aluminium engine slurps oil at an alarming rate, but keep it topped up and it appears to be bulletproof. Ditto the gearbox.

Not so the trick suspension, while corrosion is beginning to take its toll on exposed pipes. There’s a lot of alloy in the car’s mechanicals and running gear, and corrosion can occur where it and steel contact each other, so get your prospective purchase on a ramp and have a good look around. It’ll be worth it to find that on-point motor.

How to get one in your garage

2 Audi rs4 hero rear

An expert's view

David Stringer, workshop manager, ADS Automotive: “We’re seeing more RS4s through the workshop now as people cotton onto the model and realise it’s worth preserving. Of course, it’s getting on now and many RS4s have a long list of problems, mainly because they were owned by people who didn’t appreciate what they had and so didn’t have them maintained properly. A popular request is to replace the standard Dynamic Ride Control system with a coilover kit such as the Bilstein B14 or KW Street Comfort. KW’s V3 fully adjustable coilover kit is also popular. It’s personal preference how low you want the car to sit, but many people are choosing to run with the original ride height, which at least saves the sump from whacking speed humps.”

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Buyer beware...

â–  Engine: Listen for misfires caused by tired coil packs and spark plugs that can damage the catalytic converter. Decarbonisation of the inlet valves is recommended every 50,000 miles. Check the oil cooler pipes (low down at the front) for rust and leaks. While there, scan the sump and alternator belt tensioner for grounding marks. And dip the oil; even a healthy RS4 will use up to three litres per 1000 miles.

â–  Gearbox: No serious issues have been reported, save that early cars had a clutch hose problem that was covered by a recall. A clutch will last around 40,000 miles.

â–  Steering, suspension and brakes: Check the power steering pipe from pump to rack, because corrosion is common. Listen for clonks and rattles, too. The bushes on the upper and lower suspension arms are prone to splitting. Worse, the upper arm pinch bolt can seize (it’s a steel component in an alloy wheel bearing housing); if it can’t be removed, you’re in for a new housing. Listen for the control arms knocking on full lock. Juddery brakes may just need surplus dust blowing away – or new discs, which are extremely pricey if you choose original equipment.

4 Audi rs4 interior

â–  Body and interior: Check the wheel arches for scrapes. Any rust is likely to be repair related, but a corroded battery compartment is a known condition. Check the condition of the driver’s seat bolsters. Also worth knowing The Dynamic Ride Control system hydraulically links diagonally opposing front and rear dampers to reduce pitch and roll in corners. It works; Autocar’s tester praised the car’s composure. Unfortunately, as with all such systems, preserving pressure is key. The seals grow tired and leak fluid after a time, allowing the shocks to depressurise. Repairs are expensive.

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How much to spend

£10,000-£11,999: High-mileage saloons (100,000-plus), some with good service histories.

£12,000-£13,999: Tidier saloons with good specifications but still around 100,000 on the clock.

£14,000-£16,999: Saloons, estates and some cabriolets. Many in good condition and some with mileages down to around 80,000.

£17,000-£21,999: Some excellent cars with low mileages.

£22,000-£28,000: The cream of the crop, with mileages typically around 30,000.

One we found

1 Audi rs4 one we found static front

Audi RS4, 2006/56, 99,000 miles, £12,989: A tidy RS4 saloon with full Audi service history. It was either this or a private-sale, 2006/06 with 92,000 miles and ‘service history’. In its favour were new Bilstein shocks, oil cooler pipes, a carbon clean and Pirelli P Zero tyres.


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Add a comment…
xxxx 6 April 2020

manual v auto

So true eseaton, I run a 20+ year old car and basically manual boxes are more desireable in all classics because then as now they'll always be more realiable, need less maintenace etc.

Afterall when have you ever seen an episode of wheeler dealers when they've replaced a manual box with an auto one?

eseaton 6 April 2020

I'm pleased to note manual

I'm pleased to note manual gearboxes are generally more prized than autos.