Intro to the buyers guide:
Fontain has been Specialising in Audi since 1995, sharing the information we learn along the way. We have put this series of written and video buyers guides together, as we believe buying carefully helps you get the best value car when buying.
Being an informed buyer helps avoid unexpected costs and plan future maintenance!
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I thought today we’d talk a little bit about B8 RS4s, specifically because of an article that a few of you may have seen already, Piston Heads very very recently published buyers guide on these cars. We had a good look at this, its a pretty good article and it has some decent information in it, but there are a few errors and maybe a little bit thin on detail. So I thought I’d grab an RS4 and go through them in a bit more depth to make sure that if you are looking to buy one, or even if you own one already, you are very well armed with all the information that you’ll need.
The headline question. How much does an RS4 cost?
Today, if you want a really good one, great specification car, nice colour, low mileage, proper maintenance records, you want to be budgeting about £30,000 for a really tip-top one. If you’re maybe not quite so fussy about having the lowest mileage car available, something in the area of £25,000, should buy you a decent example with good service history.
Cars like the limited edition, tend to be a little bit more expensive, maybe a couple of thousand pounds. The Negaro edition, referenced in the Piston Heads article, whilst it was a lot more expensive when they were brand new, it really was just a cosmetic package. They didn’t sell particularly well, in fact, a lot of the UK allocation remained unsold when the cars were new. They were pre-registered by dealers and actually have pretty poor levels of specification. So whilst they do pop up for sale now and then, look a little more closely and a lot of them, despite being expensive, are missing pretty basic things like heated seats or Bang and Olufsen speakers. My money would go on a well-specified standard car, for less money, every time.
Differences between a standard A4 and an RS4?
The article covers the main points and the main thing everybody thinks of, obviously, is the big flared box wheel arches, but what can make a really surprising difference to the appearance and desirability of an RS4, is one of the optional styling packs. Without a styling pack, sitting next to a car with one, they can look a little bit plain.
There were two options available on this front. You could have a matt aluminium styling package, which gave you lots of extra, as the name suggests, matt aluminium trims around the car to offer a little bit of a contrast. Alternatively, you could have a gloss black styling pack, that de-chromes the whole car and gives you nice things like the piano black surrounder on the radiator grills and this is probably the most desirable ones. It is an option that a lot of people really really hunt out for, in that it makes the cars look quite a bit younger and certainly more aggressive on the case of a black car.
Seats in the RS4?
The standard fitment seats in the B8 RS4 were actually these Super Sports seats, or RS Super Sports seats are given their full name. If you had no additional options on the seats, they came with leather bolsters and Alcantara centres and they were available in black only. If you went for a full leather, which was only about £400 as an option, you got the choice of sole black or lunar silver. Sole black probably made up most of the sales, but the lunar silver sold a few as well.
In terms of seat choices, you could actually have the RS bucket seats, which were a very similar design to those that were popular to those in the B7 RS4, although wherein the older car the buckets made up the majority of sales, probably because a lot of people felt that the standard seats weren’t that sporty in look or feel, in the B8 RS4 the standard-fit Super Sports seats made up the majority of sales, because they are an excellent compromise between support, comfort and everyday practicality. The bucket seats were a fairly expensive option as well.
Gearboxes in the RS4:
Seven-speed S Tronic, or double-clutch gearbox, not generally problematic, in fact very rarely problematic. I think only a very very tiny percentage of owners have any real issues with them, they’re not quite as smooth as a traditional torque converter or Tiptronic type gearbox, particularly at low speeds or if you are in stop-start traffic and there is the very occasional slight lurch at very low speeds that simply are characteristics of the gearbox and sometimes it can be to be with the gearboxes cooling strategy as well. So Audi has done things with the gearbox control, to make sure that the oil doesn’t get too hot and that the clutches last a long time.
The article mentions that the front final drive, which needs an oil change at 20,000 miles and that’s correct, but it does miss a much more important one, where at 40,000 miles you change the oil in the S Tronic gearbox itself, you do again the front final drive and you also do the rear final drive and rear differential oil. So that’s all 4 of the drivetrain oil changes every 40,000 miles. Fairly expensive to do all four of them together, in that they can be a couple of hundred pounds each one, so it does add up, but oil is relatively cheap, gearboxes are very expensive, so we like to make sure that they are done pretty close to the recommended schedule which is 40,000 miles.
The article does make some slightly confusing comments on drive modes and you can in-fact have any combination of settings you want. The whole car can be aggressive, the whole car can be soft, or you can mix them up. So if you want to have the engine and gearbox in their normal settings, the suspension set to be comfortable, but the exhaust noisy, you can do that.
Brakes and Suspension and Wheels:
Brakes and suspension and alloy wheels for that matter. Brakes on RS4s, very very large brake disks, yes they are fairly expensive to replace, but you will be pleased to know that generally, the front brake disks last something like 30,000 – 40,000 miles under normal use and the rear disks a little bit longer than that. So you’re not going to be replacing them every 10 minutes.
There have been some complaints and problems with vibrations through the steering or the brake pedal. A Lot of people think that is simply down to warped disks but often it’s not. It can be caused by warped disks, it can also be caused by a damaged alloy wheel or even incorrect installation of brake parts in the first place. If you have had an alloy wheel refurbished recently as well, if there is paint in a place there shouldn’t be, that can also cause a vibration. It is very important not simply to throw brand new brakes on if you do have that kind of problem and find the root cause instead.
Suspension on the RS4:
DRC Sport suspension was part of Sports Pack, as the article details quite well, but misses the mark slightly on taking care of it. It is implied that if you have a problem and are experiencing knocking or a fault with the suspension, you simply need to drain and recharge the system. That is 2 of the 3 steps, but if you are suffering from a leaking damper, the only fix is replacing it. So the system is drained, the damper or dampers at fault and its often the fronts on B8 RS4 that go wrong, are replaced, and then the system filled and repressurised. Filling and re-pressurising the system does require specialist tooling, the dampers are empty when they are supplied new, we do have the tooling and equipment on-site to carry out this work.
Alloy wheels, again as the article states, a fairly plain looking 19-inch wheel was standard. The vast majority of people went for 20-inch wheels that were part of Sports Pack. Now, Sport Pack does not automatically give you the V spoke alloy wheels, it actually gave you a free choice of any of 3 different wheels all at the same price. You could have the rota design alloy wheels diamond cut, grey spokes, cut face as they are here, the same wheel in bright silver, or indeed the V spoke.
Steering on the RS4:
Another component of Sports Pack was dynamic steering. Dynamic steering was a variable-ratio steering rack, that let you tweak its settings to make it a little bit more reactive or a little bit more chilled out, depending on your preference. This system actually got some fairly bad press when the cars were new, a lot of motoring journalists didn’t like it, did not rate the system, but having spoken to a lot of owners and spent a good amount of time in the cars myself, it works pretty well. I think the criticism was quite unfair. If you are used to a car with a fixed ratio steering rack, that a lot of normal cars do have, it could feel a little bit hypersensitive if you are not used to it, but actually, you adapt to it very very quickly. In practice it simply makes the car feel responsive and agile and if you do want to relax, it’s got a comfort mode, turn it off, and it becomes light, easy, chilled out. In the real world, it simply isn’t a problem.
B7 or a B8 RS4?
So in conclusion, which is better, aB7 or a B8 RS4? An argument that will go 50 pages any time it is asked on any forum. B7s, modern classics, are getting a bit old now, they need plenty of TLC. B8 keeps the awesome V8 engine and revs even higher than the B7 does, but it is wrapped up in a more modern, more usable and more practical package. And you can still buy them in lovely condition with low mileage, that is very very usable.
If you want to have a big normally aspirated high revving RS4 whilst you still can, its got to be the B8.
If you own an RS4, you are buying an RS4, or the same if you have a different Volkswagen group car and it needs service, maintenance or repair work, visit Fontain.co.uk, enter the service section and enter your reg number and you can book most common diagnostic maintenance and service work online.
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