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Audi RS4 B7: Buying guide and review (2005-2008)

Audi RS4 B7: Buying guide and review (2005-2008) Classic and Performance Car
Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide
The Audi RS4 story started in 2000 with the B5 version and it set a template that remains as compelling now as it was over a decade ago: sure-footed quattro drivetrain, relentless performance, a quietly sinister aesthetic and the sense that 100 years from now, this car will still perform with the same deadly combination of speed, stability and sheer grip. 
 
The second-generation car, the one we’re looking at here, could scarcely have been more different in many respects. Out went the estate-only configuration, the heavily turbocharged engine and a bit of the sense that the RS4 was just a skunkworks project. However, those changes were resoundingly offset by the star feature of the B7 RS4 when it was launched in 2006: a normally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 that revved to 8250rpm and produced 414bhp. 
 
It was as if some rogue BMW M engineers had seen into the future and decided to get out before the turbos arrived, infiltrating quattro GmbH and living out their wildest engineering dreams. One or two might have even made it into the chassis department, because Audi’s usual 50:50 torque split was tweaked so that 60 per cent of drive went to the rear wheels. 
 
Saloon or Avant, this RS4 was something special, with a sensational six-speed manual gearbox and a chassis that coupled Audi’s usual stability-first DNA with some real fluency, adjustability and entertainment. It cemented the RS4’s legendary status, showed us that Audi had the ability and desire to take on BMW head-to-head in dynamic terms and plain just made us happy. 
 

Which Audi RS4 to buy? 

 
The B7-gen RS4 first appeared in summer 2005, though UK sales didn’t get into full swing until early 2006. It was available as a saloon and estate (Avant) and also as a rather unhappy cabriolet (best avoided). It bowed out barely two years later when the B8 version of the A4 appeared. Given such a short production run, it’s surprising just how many you can find in the classifieds, but that’s enduring proof of the way it gripped the petrolhead imagination. The B7 RS4 was simply the best drivers’ Audi since the Ur-Quattro. 
 
Beneath the flared arches and aluminium front wings and bonnet, the spec remained essentially unchanged throughout the run: 414bhp 4.2-litre all-aluminium V8 (basically the same unit that would propel the mid-engined R8 that followed soon after), six-speed manual gearbox only, rear-biased four-wheel drive, those DRC reactive dampers to provide added tautness in corners, and a Sport button to sharpen throttle response and open bypass valves in the exhaust. There was an optional Sport pack, which made the car sit a little lower and ride a little more firmly and which added ‘active’ side bolsters to the front seats. 
 

Performance and specs 

 
Engine V8, 4163cc 
Power 414bhp @ 7800rpm 
Torque 317b ft @ 5500rpm 
Transmission Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Weight 1650kg 
0-62mph 4.7sec
Top speed 155mph (limited)
 

Dimensions and weight 

 
Wheelbase 2651mm
Length 4586mm
Width 1816mm
Height 1415mm
Kerb weight 1710kg
 

Common problems

 
• A lot of cars suffer a build-up of carbon around the inlet valves. Not every car is affected, but it’s a common problem after around 60,000 miles. 
 
• You get oil from the breather system in the inlet tract. Direct injection means there’s nothing to wash it off the back of the valves. It’s basically a good day’s work to decoke the heads. 
 
• Telltale signs include an engine light on the dash and embers coming out of the exhaust (noticeable from a following car at night). Avoiding lots of short journeys will delay the inevitable build-up. 
 
• The V8 is otherwise reliable, but some ancillaries can need attention. The two side water radiators are vulnerable to corrosion. Look through the ducts in the bumper for seeping pink antifreeze. If you can get the car on a ramp, also check the oil cooler and pipes for corrosion and seepage. Replacement means taking the front of the car off, and parts alone are over a £1000. 
 
• Service intervals were officially every 19,000 miles, but a good specialist will recommend 10,000 miles or annually. 
 
• Drivetrains are robust but beware a heavy clutch – replacing it takes around eight hours. 
 
• The Dynamic Ride Control dampers are prone to leaking. You can keep replacing them, but many owners go for Bilstein coilovers, which retain the standard ride height. 
 
• Bushes and ball joints in the suspension last pretty well but may need replacing around 80,000 miles, depending on the life they’ve had, so listen out for knocks and bangs from front and back 
 
• Bouncy suspension means the DRC’s gone. There is a drivetrain clonk, but that’s just Audi AWD. 
 
• The brakes are massive – 365mm vented and drilled discs at the front with eight-piston, four-pad calipers. A full set of discs and pads is around £1500 just for the parts, so if they’ve been recently replaced, that’s a big tick. Vibrations through the pedal mean a bill’s looming. 
 
• The driver’s seat outer bolster may show signs of wear, while the swollen arches are prone to stone-chipping. 
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites  

 
• audi-sport.net – Forums and advice
• rs246.com – Forums and advice
• autops.co.uk – Independent specialist
• fontain.co.uk – Independent specialist
• mrctuning.com – Independent specialist
• unit20.com – Independent specialist
 

Summary and prices 

 
The B7 RS4 still enjoys a strong following and prices have levelled out, meaning there’s plenty of support while depreciation is no longer an issue. Running costs can be, though, so be aware of the potential for hefty bills and take care to find a car that’s been well maintained. 
 
Scan the classifieds and you’ll find a vast range of prices. At the bottom end there are high-mileage cars with multiple owners – usually private sales – for as little as £15,000. Don’t necessarily be put off by a high mileage, but an inspection by a specialist is likely to be money well spent. At the very top end, pristine, low-mileage, one-owner cars are advertised for as much £35,000. But around £20,000 gives you a fantastic choice of average-mileage cars with only one or two owners and excellent service histories, and that’s where we’d be looking. It’s worth noting that you’ll pay £250 less road tax a year on cars registered before March 23, 2006. 
Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide Audi RS4 B7 buying guide
Last updated: 20th Sep 2016
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  • Audi RS4

    £31,503 £31,503

    Variant name:Avant ,Variant: 4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic Audi RS4 4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 55000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
    £31,503 £31,503
    Prestige Cars Kent-Prestige Cars Kent
    01689 660603 View contact number
  • Audi RS4

    £33,999 £33,999

    Variant name:4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic ,Variant: 4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic 5 Star NCAP Rating,6 Speed Gearbox,ABS,Air Conditioning,Alloy Wheels,Anti Theft System,Automatic Gearbox,Automatic Headlights,Automatic Wipers,Bluetooth Prepared,CD Player,Climate Control,Cruise Control,Electric Front Seats,Electric Mirrors,Electric Windows,Engine Immobiliser,ESP,Four Wheel Drive,Front Fog Lights,Full Service History,Heated Mirrors,Heated Seats,iPod Connection,Isofix Seats,Keyless Entry,Leather Steering Wheel,Leather Upholstery,MP3 Connectivity,Multiple Airbags,Onboard Computer,Parking Camera,Parking Distance Control,Power Steering,Satellite Navigation,Traction Control,Xenon Headlights

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 32197 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
    £33,999 £33,999
  • Audi RS4

    £33,941 £33,941

    Variant name:Avant ,Variant: 4.2 FSI Quattro 5dr S Tronic We are proud to offer this phenomenal 2014 Audi RS4 Avant. Presented in Sepang Blue Metallic with Black Leather / Alcantara Interior. The specification can only be described as fantastic and includes, V Spoke Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels, Automatic Xenon Projector Headlights, Rear Privacy Glass, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Dual Oval Exhaust System, Fully Electric Adjusting Seats with Lumbar Support, Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System, Electric Windows, Electric Adjusting Mirrors, Multi Functional Perforated Flat Bottom Steering Wheel, Paddleshift, Trip Computer, Carbon Fibre Interior Trim, RS4 Logo Embossed on Seats, Heated Seats, Dual Climate Control, Air Conditioning, Drive Select ( Switchable Driving Modes ), Cruise Control, Full Colour Satellite Navigation, DAB Radio, Bluetooth Phone & Audio Streaming, Gloss Black RS Brake Calipers. To discuss this wonderful RS4 in further detail please don't hesitate to give us a call on the number as shown above.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 29000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
    £33,941 £33,941