A history lesson...
Designed as an estate car to compete with supercars, the Audi RS4 never quite made the premium ranks. Introduced in 2000 with a 2.7 litre V6 at 380bhp, the RS4 should satisfy the needs of playboys and family men alike. In effect it had a sports car engine in an estate car's body. It had great potential but the first generation only stuck around for a couple of years. The next generation model ran from 2006-2008 and 2012 saw a new Audi RS4 leave the production line. Limited production numbers of 6,030 for first generation and around 10,000 for second generation models mean you don't see them come up that often.
Bang for your buck
It looks like your average Audi A4 estate but small details show its pedigree, including huge air vents front and back, wider flare extensions to the wheel arches and a lower ride than you might expect, plus a set of big old wheels. High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights swivel round corners in line with steering movements. The interior is immensely practical with enough load space for skiing, golf and any other outdoor pursuits, plus family pets. Nor is this a case of function before form – leather Recaro seats and a beautifully chunky three-spoke wheel are part of an impressive set of specs that also include a Bose stereo. Safety is also up to the standards you'd expect from Audi, with its 'Sideguard' airbag system and the brand's trademark Quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Second generation versions include a cabriolet and the centre console 'Engine Start' system.
What you'll pay
Expect to pay up to £20,000 for the earlier models and between 18,000-25,000 for a Mark 2, but a used Audi RS4 is still a lot of car for the money. Insurance group 20.
What to check
Problems with brake warping and wheels distorting have been reported so give it a good test drive. If you are concerned about wheel faults, consider replacing them. Tyres aren't cheap, so check they have plenty of wear still available when you buy.
Front brake pads are close to £70, rear brake pads £45 and a starter motor the best part of £165. Clutch assembly kits are roughly £225, alternators circle the £175 mark and a radiator around £180.
How it drives
This car is brute force in 2 words. The RS4 reaches 60mph in 4.7 seconds and allegedly 0-123.4mph in 16.6 seconds, although electronic limiters make this difficult to test. It boasts twin turbochargers and exceptional torque – put your foot down at 120mph and it will still pull you into your seat. Handling is very stable, possibly a little too stable, with steering response and chassis feedback rather unexciting. The power steering and massive brakes have no trouble dealing with the car's power but the six-speed gear box can be clunky with too much travel in the box and the clutch can be hard work, particularly annoying with no automatic model available. However these are minor details – you're buying this car for its power, on which level it certainly delivers.