The Audi RS4 was first introduced in 1999. Like its predecessor, the RS2, it was only available as an Avant (Audi speak for estate). While the limited edition RS2 was a joint venture with Porsche, the RS4 was an in-house product and was made in larger numbers – 6,000 of the first generation (B5) RS4 were built, compared with just under 2,900 for the RS2.
There have been 3 generations of the RS4 to date, with a fourth due to appear in 2018:
- B5: 1999-2001. Avant only. 375bhp 2.7L Bi-Turbo V6, manual gearbox.
- B7: 2006-2008. Saloon, Avant, Cabriolet. 414bhp 4.2L V8, manual gearbox.
- B8: 2012-2015. Avant only. 450bhp 4.2LV8, S-Tronic gearbox.
- B9: 2018- . Avant only. 444bhp 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6, automatic gearbox.
The Audi RS4 B9
While it sits in a relatively small part of the market, it faces some of the stiffest competition, in the shape of the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63. The RS4’s unique selling point is its Quattro drivetrain, which can help to get more of the power down more of the time than the other two, especially in wet or icy conditions. For some, the slightly nose heavy weight distribution and 4WD has been accused of taking the edge off the handling when compared with the competition, but in “real world” driving the extra traction and security of the Quattro system is often part of the appeal.
Currently, the best generation to buy is probably the middle one, the B7. Values for the later B8 are still somewhat higher, and those for the older B5 are at a similar level. Also, it is the only option if a saloon or cabriolet is preferred, although the gearbox could be a decider for some – the B7 being a manual where the B8 was an automatic. Values are pretty good for all 3 generations, although those of the B5 have increased and good ones are now worth a similar amount to the much newer B8. Considering this, the B7 probably represents the best value for money at the moment, especially if a manual gearbox is preferred.
Audi RS4 B8
If the intention is to participate in track days, the 3rd generation (B8) is probably the best choice. There are a number of companies that will provide engine and/or chassis tuning for all 3 generations, with some quite substantial performance increases available if your pockets are deep enough! However, the B5 and B7 are hampered by rather nose heavy weight distribution due to the engine being mounted further forward compared to competitors such as the C63 or M3 – a legacy of the FWD bias of the RS4’s platform. For the B8, however, Audi moved the engine back and thus got much closer to the ideal of balanced front-to-rear weight distribution. It’s still not 50/50 but it is closer than previous generations. This makes for much more stable and balanced handling, making it easier to exploit the engine’s power and the grip generated by the Quattro system, especially in the wet.
With regard to future classic status, cars such as the RS4, C63 and M3 all have a healthy following which will continue for some time. Many believe that we are moving towards lower capacity forced induction engines for cars such as these, meaning the naturally aspirated 6 and 8 cylinder engined cars will remain popular with enthusiasts. As mentioned previously, values for the first generation, the B5, have already started to rise to a similar level to those for the B8. A review of the popular sales sites shows a much smaller number of the B5s compared to the other generations which will undoubtedly help to keep values up. It is also likely that they are being bought as weekend/fun cars, and that is a demographic where people are prepared to pay well for the right examples, and are likely to keep them for longer.
Looking at used values, asking prices for the B5 typically range from £20-25,000, and are less affected by mileage than the other 2 generations – condition, specification and provenance are more important. B7 values fall mainly in the £13-21,000 range, while the asking price for a B8 is £30-50,000 and shows a greater mileage influence than the other 2 generations.