The latest crop of Audi "RS" cars — namely, the RS 5 and the RS 7 — are gorgeous, modern, fast and exciting … but they’re also tremendously expensive. The RS 5 is now off the market, pending a new model, but it could easily top $80,000 with options — and the RS 7 is pricier still. Fortunately, you can buy an even more special "RS" car for far less money: this 2003 RS 6, which is offered by a private seller in Connecticut for just $12,500.
Before I get into the details of this particular car, let’s discuss the RS 6. Although the RS 6 has been sold on and off in Europe for years, it was only offered in the United States once: For the 2003 model year, Audi gave us a limited-production RS 6 sedan. At the time, it was one of the most powerful sedans ever made, with an amazing 450 horsepower coming out of the car’s twin-turbocharged V8.
Indeed, the RS 6 was truly a monster, and the performance wasn’t even the best part. The best part was its subtle styling: Although newer AMG and M and RS cars all have huge grilles and big wheels and badges everywhere, the original RS 6 had only the smallest level of enhancements over the standard A6. There were bigger wheels, flared fenders, an RS6 badge and … that was it. In order to know, you had to know.
Over time, depreciation has not treated the RS 6 well, largely for two major reasons. One, because it’s a 14-year-old European car, and that’s what depreciation does to 14-year-old European cars. But the RS 6 has also lost a lot of value because it’s developed a reputation for being a bit temperamental, in the same way that the Atlantic Ocean has developed a reputation for being a bit wet. The biggest issue was the transmission: Audi’s Tiptronic wasn’t up to handling the car’s horsepower, so most RS 6 transmissions failed over time.
Although the ad for this particular RS 6 doesn’t say if it’s had the transmission replaced, two things are for sure: It’s been driven, and it’s cheap. This one has covered a whopping 172,000 miles since it was new in 2003, and it’s offered for just $12,500 — a far cry from the original value, and an amazingly far cry from the price of a new RS model. Sure, nobody will know what it is, but you’ll know — every time you stomp on the accelerator at a traffic light. Find a 2003 Audi RS 6 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.