Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your buds at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.
This month, we’ll take a look at a super-special super sedan, available today with reasonable miles for less than a third of its original asking price after a decade or so.
The vehicle in question? None other than its almighty Quattro-propelled snortbeast, the Audi RS4.
It’s discreet. It’s handsome. It has a screamer V8 that spins to 8,000 rpm. Plus, with Quattro AWD, exhaustive track-validated performance upgrades, and brake rotors the size of trash-can lids, the RS4 is as comfortable at a weekend track day as it is power-sliding through a blizzard up to the chalet.
In Canada, the RS4 came just one way in the powertrain department: with a 4.2-litre, 420 horsepower all-motor V8, Quattro AWD, and a six-speed stick. At launch, this discreet rocket-sedan was priced in the six-figure ballpark, and that was if you could get your hands on one: the RS4 wasn’t exactly shipped here to sell in massive quantities.
Feature content included automatic climate control, xenon adaptive lights, a special exhaust with push-button sports mode, keyless access, cruise control, Bose audio, and heated leather memory seating. The RS4 was only sold here for 2007 and 2008 – which is why used models are fairly sparse.
Owners rate the performance, under-the-radar looks, exclusivity, and the effect of the RS4 on nearby gearheads as the best parts of the ownership experience. All-weather access to the RS4’s performance, and a relatively everyday, friendly-to-drive setup round out the praise points.
Approximate New Value
When new, RS4 was priced around $94,000, before any options, fees, or delivery charges. Optional packages and features easily pushed the price up past $100,000.
Approximate Used Value
Deals incoming! Today, at 9- or 10-years-old, and often with highly reasonable mileage, a used Audi RS4 can be had for under $30,000, all day long. Here’s one example of a lower-mileage unit, with under 60,000 kilometres of use, for $29,999. Want to find a used RS4 for even less? Look for higher-mileage units, like this one or this one, from the mid-twenties. Of course, if you’re after a really low mileage unit and your bank account approves, units like this RS4 Cabriolet can be had for half their original cost with under 40,000 kilometres on the dial.
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Test Drive Tips
For maximum success, approach a used RS4 assuming it needs new tires, brake components, and a new clutch, until you or an Audi technician confirm otherwise. There’s a high likelihood that the used RS4 has had the bejesus driven out of it, which it should have. Hard driving isn’t a problem, though hard driving without proper maintenance is. Ensure the unit you’re considering has all service records, proving that all maintenance duties, including fluid changes, have been carried out as specified.
Before a test drive, shoppers should ensure the used RS4 candidate’s engine is “cold” by opening the hood or briefly touching one of the exhaust tips before start-up. Sometimes, a seller will pre-warm the engine to prevent it from showing signs of smoke, making a certain noise, or idling erratically when it’s cold. Some RS4 owners have reported blue oil smoke on cold startup, and this smoke may not be apparent when starting a warm engine. Some oil consumption with this engine is considered normal, and a faulty or worn crankcase ventilation system valve may exasperate the problem. It’s not a complicated fix.
Poor performance or an inconsistent, sputtering feel to the power delivery, possibly alongside a check engine light, could indicate a bad ignition coil pack. Coil packs aren’t inexpensive to replace, and the RS4 has eight of them. Test acceleration at light, moderate and full throttle where appropriate to ensure the RS4 pulls strongly and cleanly through its rev range. Further, note that a Check Engine Light, referencing a misfire trouble code, may be a sign of a well-documented problem with valve gunk buildup. Mechanical cleaning of the intake valves is one of the only viable ways to address this potential issue, and it’s not cheap. Regular quality oil changes, exclusive use of a high-grade fuel, and religious adherence to spark plug change intervals can all help indirectly fend off valve gunk buildup.
A mechanic should check for fluid leaks from the engine, transmission and all driveline components, as well as from the shock absorbers, which are another big-ticket item to replace. Any fluid leaks should be identified and remedied before agreeing to purchase.
As a general rule, shoppers are advised to avoid heavily modified RS4 models unless they’re knowledgeable on Audi tuning and fully aware of the type and quality of modification work carried out. Typically, intake and exhaust modifications are safe – though models with forced induction, modified engine electronics or nitrous could be problematic. Improperly installed instances of any of the above could turn your RS4’s screamer V8 into a lump of oily, metallic soup.
A final note: the RS4 was a $100,000 car, and will continue to turn in $100,000 car maintenance and repair costs while you own it. A contingency fund is a good idea, if you’re planning to own one, just in case.
With the Audi RS4, $25,000 to $50,000 goes a long way towards an exotic, extreme-performance super sedan that’s ready for action, all-year-round. Best of all, unlike many super sedans, the RS4 was a rare bird – and you won’t see three other ones in the parking lot every time you go to Sears. Shop carefully, keep a fund handy for repairs that may be needed, and get that all-important pre-purchase inspection. Then, you’re well on your way to owning one of the most lusted-after sports sedans ever built.