A history lesson...
With BMW and Mercedes having dominated the powerhouse executive saloon market for the previous decade, the arrival in 2002 of Audi's RS6 was necessary to put the company back up in the ranks with its homeland rivals. The introduction of 2004's Audi RS6 Plus Avant, with an almost embarrassing array of well thought out upgrades on the original and 480bhp, was enough to shame even supercar stalwarts like the Porsche 911 Turbo. Production halted in 2004 but a second generation was produced from 2008-2010, even more powerful than the original at a ridiculous 579bhp.
Bang for your buck
The RS6 (used or new) is quick! Under the bonnet of the earlier models is a twin turbocharged 40-valve 4.2-litre V8, with plenty of torque spread and a lovely 9.3:1 compression ratio keeping the engine always on point. The exterior look is subtle rather than aggressive, even the powerhouse Audi RS6 Plus errs on the tasteful side of flashy. You'll notice some matt-black trim elements but it's the booming of the Plus's exhaust that will give it away rather than ostentatious design.
Generation two RS6s are slightly more menacing looking than the original but still understated given the performance available, this time from a 5.0-litre V10. The revised DRC system gives three ride settings of comfort, dynamic and sport. On a more practical level, interior luggage space is impressive in all versions.
What you'll pay
The initial depreciation on new models was wince-inducing so a used Audi RS6 can be an excellent buy. 2002 models can be found for £25,000 and second generation models start at about £35,000. Estates by far outnumber saloons. Like all of Audi's RS cars, insurance isn't cheap at group 20 for 2002-04 models and a hideous group 50 for 2008-10.
What to check
Go for a solid full service history and stick to Audi dealers if you have any doubts. There's not a plentiful number of them around, with the Plus's limited production run of 999 making it even rarer, so it may take you some time to find a decent one. Make sure the previous owner hasn't fitted a tow hitch – additional loading will raise oil temperature beyond recommended levels, meaning Audi have invalidated RS6 warranties for tow bars. DRC struts have been known to leak at the seals on early models but should have been rectified.
Not cheap! You will find yourself going through plenty of brake pads at £85 a set for G1 and £150 for G2. Expect £250 per corner for tyres.
How it drives
Audi's electronic control systems have always kept its ride on the pedestrian side of stability, which is not to say you can't have fun in this beast. 0-62mph at 4.6 seconds will give you a tingle pulling away from the lights, even leaving a 911 in the dust. Electronically limited to 155mph, an unadulterated RS6 should pass 190mph without a problem. Despite all this power, Audi's quattro 4x4 system will keep you safe while the ESP system is relaxed enough to enjoy a bit of playing around and can even be switched off if you dare. It's an impressive car.