Original Audi RS6 a Top Gear Bargain Hero

The Audi RS6 Avant as we know it today is a very popular, very capable and simply incredible all-around vehicle. It packs a 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 develops 570 hp, a brilliant Quattro all-wheel drive system and enough interior luxury to rival a Bentley. Everyone in the automotive world knows the brilliance of the Audi RS6 Avant. However, that wasn’t always the case and the first-gen Audi RS6 sort of went unloved.

Audi first launches the RS6 in 2002 and it was available in both sedan (or saloon for our friends across the pond) or Avant form. The Avant is the clear choice but the sedan isn’t bad either. However, it wasn’t a very popular car, as 2002 was dominated by the BMW E39 M5 and the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG. The Audi RS6 was sort of the quirky customer’s choice and wasn’t well known.

It’s because of that lack of popularity that the first-gen C5-generation Audi RS6 is so affordable now.

Audi RS6 Avant formerly owned by Paul Walker
Audi RS6 Avant formerly owned by Paul Walker

According to Top Gear, an Audi RS6 Avant can be had in good condition for around £10,000 (around $12,500), which is incredibly cheap for what the RS6 is. Packing a 4.2 liter twin-turbocharged V8, with help from Cosworth, the RS6 made 444 hp. Back in 2002, that was many horsepowers. Paired to a traditional five-speed automatic gearbox and powering all four wheels, the RS6 Avant was capable of 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s as fast as the brand new Audi SQ7 TDI.

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While the old-school 4.2 liter twin-turbo V8 might not have the immediacy or the power of the current 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8, it’s the more charismatic engine. The new one is almost too perfect, so much so that it lacks any sort of drama. The old unit has a bit of lag and then a big rush of power. It sounds better too, with no artificial augmentation in the exhaust or sport exhaust buttons. Just pure V8 soundtrack.

The automatic is probably the only real downside of the old RS6. While it’s probably fine for driving around town in, the old five-speed slush box will struggle to keep up with the sort of pace we’re used to from the brilliant ZF-sourced auto in current Audis. Despite that, though, this is still a very fun, very fast car to drive.

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Audi RS6 Avant formerly owned by Paul Walker

Turn the wheel in the C5 RS6 and you’ll soon realize that the old days were better days. A heavier steering weight and more precise feel lead to a car that’s more enjoyable to toss around than most modern cars. Just the steering alone is worth whatever it takes to buy an RS6.

There are some issues with them, though, that future owners must be cautious of. Every 40,000 miles or so, the cambelts need to be changed as well as the water pump and the gearbox oil. If this wasn’t done to the car, it could be in for some trouble later down the line. And fixing an RS6 is not cheap. Also the Dynamic Ride Control suspension, which adjusts the damping to help with performance, is hydraulically controlled and the shocks can leak. It’s recommended that if you replace one shock to replace all four. That can set you back a few thousand dollars.

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Audi RS6 Avant formerly owned by Paul Walker

So the Audi RS6 might be affordable to buy but it might cost a pretty penny to own. However, it’s all worth it as you’ll be driving a car that was made in a different time, a better time and one that started it all. The current RS6 Avant is absolutely brilliant but it owes everything to the C5-generation car. The Avant was never available in America, but the sedan will work just fine. If you can find either one, wherever you live, for a price you can afford. Buy it, it’s worth it.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.