America has never been a big buyer of the Audi RS6. We haven’t gotten many of the iterations of Audi’s most famous super sedan, but the ones we have gotten we’ve treasured. The first one we got, albeit only 1,200 of them, was the C5 Audi RS6 that came in either sedan or wagon form. The C5 RS6 also came with a mighty twin-turbocharged 4.2 liter V8 that developed 450 horsepower and sends the power through a five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission to all four wheels via Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel drive system.
However, during theme that the C5 Audi RS6 was on sale, BMW had its own super sedan that made even more waves. The E39 iteration of the BMW M5 is widely considered to be the best M5 ever made and was incredibly popular during its tenure. It was far more popular that the Audi RS6, especially in the ‘States and is by far the more revered car of the two. But there are some very strong arguments for the RS6 being the better car. So let’s take a look at why you might want to buy the C5 Audi RS6 over the E39 BMW M5.
5. Turbocharged Torque – The E39 BMW M5 had a 4.9 liter naturally-aspirated V8 that made an excellent noise, had 394 horsepower and revved very freely. But it needed to be revved all the way out to use all of its power. While this can be fun, especially with its six-speed manual, it’s not very practical or easy to use in daily traffic. How often do you actually get the chance to send your engine to redline? It’s much more practical to have that huge mid-range grunt ready at the simplest prod of your right foot. The RS6’s twin-turbocharged V8 had exactly that and was able to obliterate pretty much everything else on the road, including the M5, with just a simple stab of the go-pedal.
4. Fuel Economy – While fuel economy is not typically the first thing that comes to mind when buying V8 super sedans, it does actually play a significant role in everyday life, especially if you’re buying a second-hand model today. Those aforementioned turbos actually help the RS6 achieve decent fuel economy for such a powerful car. Admittedly, 19 mpg isn’t very good, but for a 4.2 liter V8 with 450 hp it’s actually quite good. So while you’re hammering down the highway, you don’t need to worry about stopping off for fuel every 100 miles.
3. Automatic Gearbox – This typically isn’t a plus for car enthusiasts, as most of us live and die by the manual transmission. However, with the RS6 it’s actually a good choice. Well, it’s the only choice as when the C5 Audi RS6 was being developed, Audi didn’t have a manual gearbox that could handle all of the V8’s power. But fret not, as the RS6 is actually probably better for it. That may sound strange, but it actually helps to manage all of the RS6’s power, especially in congested traffic. Plus, it also can turn the RS6 into a comfortable luxury car when you aren’t hammering it, which will lead to the next point.
2. It’s Actually Luxurious – The E39 BMW M5 is a very stiff, very tight canyon carver. That’s not an insult, it’s designed to be exactly that, so that’s fine. And it’s fanbase loves it that way, so there’s nothing wrong with it being a bit more hard edged than the RS6. However, being able to turn off and become a quiet, comfortable luxury car is a real plus. It’s fun to pin the throttle and watch as the scenery flashes by like in the Millennium Falcon at warp speed, but that can’t be done at all times so it needs to be a luxury car half of the time. The Audi RS6 is better at being a luxury car than the M5. The interior of the RS6 is beautifully appointed and well built, the seats are superb and the suspension is more supple. It’s just the nicer car to munch miles in.
1. Wagons Are The Best – While the E39 BMW M5 is a very good car, it can’t touch the Audi RS6 in terms of body style. The Audi RS6 was available as a wagon which made it just so much better. In wagon form, the RS6 turns into a sports car eating monster that can also fit four adults and tons of luggage. Add in Quattro all-wheel drive and there’s simply nothing the RS6 can’t do. It’s the do-it-all supercar with no compromises and it’s hard to put a price tag on that.