Boasting a 2.0 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder borrowed from VW’s golf R, the S1 is off to a good start. With 0-60 being taken care of in under 6 seconds (5.8 to be precise), the S1 delivers big power and spec yet a compact and agile chassis. The S1 lump creates a modest sounding yet immensely effective 228bhp with a classy exhaust note to boot.
The interior is nothing short of spectacular for a car of its class. If you compare the Fiesta ST, Corsa VXR and other similarly sized hot hatches, the S1 is frankly in a class of its own. Lashings of leather, brushed aluminium and anodised switches; literally everything you touch feels exquisitely designed and manufactured. I feel the “hot hatch” is a lost art form. In my opinion, it’s a stepping stone for young petrol-heads to enter the market. With most manufacturers now producing hatchbacks capable of over 400BHP, it feels the smaller compact cars are a thing of the past. Something the S1 harks back to beautifully.
The S1 is an immensely capable platform, I’ve seen these little beasts producing over 400BHP with bolt on parts. A young lads dream. Perfect for a little point scoring in hot hatch top trumps. The S1 was a little pricey on launch at around £27,000, however when you take into account the interior spec, a part time 4 wheel drive system (to bail you out of an ill advised corner entry) and the tune-ability. You’ve landed yourself an incredibly tactile platform with plenty more to offer.
S1’s can now be had from as little as £12,000. This I feel thrusts them right into the limelight as a cheap yet powerful hatchback. Which makes them a tremendous daily driver or weekend toy. The S1 adds a refreshing touch of class, to what can be at times, a somewhat chav like tier.
Utilising a sizeable chunk of their iconic 4.2 litre V8 from the B7 RS4, Audi were off to a strong start in their first super-car venture. Using a revised intake due to the now mid-engined lay out along with a dry sump. The R8’s V8 remains almost unaltered from its B7 guise, producing the same 414bhp.
The R8’s driving dynamics appear to be very similar to those of the RS4. It is keen to rev highly, yet feels as if it has more torque – although this could be down to its 100Kg weight advantage and a lightened fly-wheel. Power is split 60-40, rear biased, although it’s said the R8 is able to handle almost 80% to the rear. Audi’s Dynamic ride control was the factory option although Mag-Ride was offered too. Magnetic ride control gave the car an added agility with ball bearings in the struts controlled by a magnetic pulse. Failings of this system were greatly reduced compared to the now well-known fragile Dynamic Ride Control (DRC).
The R8 shared the fantastic “RS4” 8 piston front brake callipers, used on the C5 platform with 365mm discs. As you can see above though, the R8 has a much smarter rear set-up. A 4 piston set up with 356mm discs and separate handbrake callipers. These are said to increase the brake balance front to rear during heaving usage (who really drives a super-car slowly?). The R8 came with two transmissions, the first being the purists choice of a straight 6 manual, but an R-Tronic auto was also available with flappy paddles of course – for those of you who need to blip on downshifts somewhere near a tunnel.(R-Tronic is basically Lamborghini’s E-Gear transmission.) Other notable options for the R8 were Audi’s bucket seats which debuted with the B7, 380mm carbon ceramic brakes and the carbon pack (carbon side blades, extended engine bay carbon – which also added carbon to the already lavish interior). 0-60 was taken care of in around 4.5 seconds with near 190mph being in reach from factory.
The R8 was a huge success at the time, but I feel it is somewhat forgotten for its iconic breakthrough into the supercar market. Audi’s first venture being the success that forged the way for the big V10 to supersede and rival the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari, yet less than half the cost.
The first generation R8 (V8) can now be had from as little as £35,000, with decent spec and mileage. However, unlike most super-cars of the era, the R8 is a car that can handle daily duties and accumulating mileage. I’ve seen early examples with over 140,000 miles, still performing admirably. Quattro enables this mid-engined super-car to perform no matter the weather. Delivering its power in a controlled and planted manor via its 295 section rear tyres – although these can be lit up with the back-end, happy to breakaway with little provocation. A true drivers car that’s both affordable and engaging yet refined enough to use everyday. A future classic, I’ve no doubt. The last of the first generation cars were treated to a dual-clutch R-Tronic gear-box. The perfect addition to the V10 with faster shifts to hone the experience.
Audi may be known mainly for their domination of the fast estate car market, but they’ve made some pretty special saloon cars along the way. The first ultra powerful “modern” Audi saloon came in 1997, with the B5 S4 261BHP and 400Nm from a bi-turbo V6. Sounds pretty amazing right? Add this to a sorted chassis with beefy brakes and you’ve got a winning combination.
Jump to 2002 and things have escalated somewhat in Audi’s first RS model to grace the saloon body style. A bi-turbo 4.2 litre V8 threw out an impressive 450BHP taking care of 0-60 in a quoted 4.6 seconds, not bad for a big family saloon car you can do the school run in. The C5’s were known to struggle with gearbox issues though, as the auto-box had the structural rigidity of melted chocolate. Dynamic ride control was pioneered in the C5 and issues began here and continued into B7 RS4.
Next was the B7 RS4. Again a 4.2 litre V8 this time with a manual gearbox and an immensely capable chassis. Dynamic ride control issues persisted but most are now replaced with after-market offerings. Despite being naturally aspirated, the B7 still delivers a satisfying 414BHP, completing its 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. Bucket seats, lashings of carbon and a soundtrack to die for, the B7 is arguably Audi’s most popular performance saloon offering.
Here’s where things get frankly ridiculous. Whoever proposed this in the boardroom is one hell of a salesman. A 5.0 litre Lamborghini derived V10, fitted with two turbos and placed into a family saloon car. 572BHP was the net result although if you know a thing about these cars, most ran closer to 600BHP. 0-60 again completed in 4.6 seconds which doesn’t sound too impressive until you realise a rough kerb-weight of 2.2 tonnes. Despite the weight, these cars are absolute monsters, with a stage 1 remap taking power to over 650BHP with more than 700BHP within your grasp after the addition of an exhaust and filters. Without a doubt my favourite saloon of all time.
2008 was an awesome time to be an Audi fan: the B7 RS4 is in its final year, the C6 RS6 is being churned out and Audi gave us yet another awesome performance saloon. The B8 S4 was a different recipe from the other cars on this list you’ll know. We’ve seen natural aspiration and some crazy bi-turbo monsters, however this S4 is supercharged. I’ve always appreciated forced induction in the shape of a supercharger, massive power gains without lag , what’s not to love? The B8 produces 328BHP and a very respectable 0-60 of 5.1 seconds. Pretty quick considering it’s not a flagship model. The power plant is a 3.0 litre V6 graced with a supercharger – the output of which can be greatly increased to over 500BHP if you wish to utilise a shorter supercharger pulley, remap and exhaust set up.
I know I know, there’s the predecessor to this car, the 5.2 litre v10 S8. But I always felt they were more of a gentleman’s cruiser. Whilst the latest generation of the S8 can only be described as a savage business barge.
A stately home-sized saloon car with a 4.0 litre bi-turbo power plant sounds like an interesting recipe to a performance car. Its 0-60 figures of 3.5 seconds is nothing short of ballistic yet it delivers this in a refined and gentlemanly manor. You’re greeted by lashings of carbon fibre and quilted leather – the interior design is nothing short of exquisite. Audi’s have long been questioned on their pricing yet when you step foot inside a modern flagship model you soon see why.
Step forward to the current Audi 8V S3. Now to most this car may seem a little out of place on this list but bare with me. Many of the aforementioned cars deliver blistering performance in the shape of a daily driver, yet almost all are ruinously expensive to run and to own. The Audi S3 has a modest 2.0 litre turbocharged 4-cylinder, producing 306BHP, nothing too exciting right? But when you factor in this little family saloon car will hit 0-60 in under 4.7 seconds, that’s something you just can’t ignore. Launch control as standard and then speccing virtual cockpit, panoramic roof and quilted leather, you’ve a seriously refined interior and the speed to match. The S3 delivers a surprisingly deep exhaust note managing to sound raspy, it crackles on the overrun (S-tronic box especially). It’s amazing where modern technology has brought us, the S3 will outrun near any naturally aspirated B7 RS4. Returning 30-40mpg as it does. Meaning for once you can have performance and economy in what can only be described as one of the best modern performance saloons Audi has ever made.
Just shy of five years ago I found myself as a young man on the hunt to attain one of my dream cars. After watching Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson thrash a Misano red Audi B7 RS4 saloon up a mountain against two climbers, I just knew I had to have one.
However being 20 at the time my budget wasn’t exactly massive so I knew there was a compromise to be made. Did I sacrifice the bucket seats? Buy a high miler with good history? Or take my chances on ex category damaged car? After inspecting a few cars around 80-100k miles that simply hadn’t been taken care of and a few stolen recovered examples I felt that maybe I just couldn’t afford one.
Then finally one Saturday morning during a routine trawl on Auto Trader I found a high-mileage Daytona grey saloon. The car had 140,000 miles, was completely standard but had full Audi service history. The best part it was only £12,000. After prancing around like an excitable child I immediately got in touch with the garage in question and arranged a trip up north for a viewing the next day.
The b7 was sat in the corner of the lot next to an e92 M3 in frozen white. Dusty and looking a little unloved I was apprehensive at first, however after a quick chat with the dealer he threw me the keys and uttered “crack on mate let me know if you like it”. It all seemed like a bit of dream, I turned the key pressed the start button and it roared into life without hesitation. As the car warmed up I looked around the troublesome DRC suspension and found it without leaks , tyres looked well with plenty of tread on the Goodyear Eagle F1s.
Now it was finally time for my first drive of a b7, it felt tight, well balanced and powerful. I launched up the road grinning like an idiot. The car behaved admirably and all skepticism of mine was gone, it felt like a car of half the miles even if it was looking a little sorry for itself (stone chipped side skirts and a pebble-dashed front bumper).
So that was that , I pulled back into the dealership stated I liked the car and paid the money , drive away insurance was a godsend at 20 years of age, especially after spending £80 on a tank of Shell V-power to get home.
Over the first few months I invested some cash to start improving the car. The first £880 was spent on a set of Bilstein B14 coil-overs to prevent any DRC issues, these were fitted by a friend an I on the drive over a weekend. Following on the car was sent off for paint, having a full front end both side skirts, rear three quarters and a new boot-lid. Costing around £1200 this really bought the car up to a phenomenal standard.
The car now handled as it should, fortunately having the thicker anti roll bars from factory. The coil-overs complimented these perfectly, if not making the car a little more tail happy. Next it was time for the first and only maintenance items I had to pay for in 13,000 miles , the infamous carbon clean. I sent the B7 to P&G automotive in Worcester where James thoroughly cleaned the ports and replaced an oil feed pipe at the same time. James commented on how powerful and strong my engine felt following its carbon clean. Stating the higher mileage appeared to have run the engine in well. It’s worth noting I also fitted a Milltek exhaust to really let the baritone roar of the v8 sing, although I’m not sure the neighbours were so keen on the idea.
I took the car to a number of shows that year with it often receiving a lot of positive attention. People rarely believed the mileage and many asked to see the odometer for proof. This is when it dawned on me I had an Rs4 that owed me around £14,000. Towards the bottom end of market, the car drove faultlessly, was very powerful and looked near new after paintwork, what exactly was I missing out on compared to the more expensive cars?
So I think what I’m trying to say is… just because a car has over 100k miles it doesn’t make it a bad car. Look for one with comprehensive history and you could save yourself thousands. I genuinely loved every minute with the RS4 saloon and knew I had sold a good car, I’m happy to report its now on around 170k and the current owner is still very happy with it. When spending less on cars your margins for loss are greatly minimised.
Well to answer that it’s pretty damn awesome , and I’ll explain why. Covering thousands of miles a year can be a fairly laborious process with little engaging or entertaining about it. I’ve daily driven 3 RS4s now , one b7 saloon one b5 avant and this charged avant. They’ve all been very good at providing a fun factor to my trips and outings no matter how routine they might be. Possibly the strangest thing to comment on is the fact fuel consumption is no worse than my naturally aspirated saloon if anything at times it’s better. I think what this car does best is exude class, with it being Daytona grey it’s subtle and good at lurking in the background when you just want to get home after a long day. Despite the wingback bucket seats being specced this car is incredibly comfortable for a motorway jaunt and the RNSE satnav I still find every useful. Cruise control and heated seats just add to the experience as a warm backside is never a bad thing on a cold winters morning. But what we all want to know about… is this car daily drivable ? And the answer I’m happy to report is yes and it fits the bill perfectly. It’s effortless power allows you to surge past near any obstacle you may encounter with the simple drop of a gear and a moment of lead foot. You’ll be pinned back in your seat and roar past Deborah in her diesel Passat stuck behind the lorry you’ve just launched past like a ballistic missile. The standard 8 pot brakes cope remarkably well with the extra grunt but upgraded pads are strongly advised. You’ll need them should you catch yourself above the speed limit. Ceramics would be better, I had a set for a short while and they were fantastic but that’s a story for another day.
Servicing is where things start to differ from your oem RS4. your long-life service schedule just won’t cut the mustard here. Oil changes are advised every 5000 miles with plugs being done every 10000 miles. A detonation of any maintenance parts at this sort of power will no doubt destroy your engine. Carbon cleaning is said to not be required , my car has been supercharged now for 91k miles and is till producing 613ps 656nm , would a carbon clean maybe a produce an extra 5-10ps? probably. But is it worth the large cost? Not at all. Tyres become more consumable than usual I think simply because of the speeds you’re now able to accomplish so easily you’ll find yourself braking harder and entering corners just that bit faster. There are much faster ways of changing gear but is there anything more satisfying than the blip of the throttle as you rev match down through the gears…. I don’t think so.
Warming up and cooling down of these cars is essential even more so when they’re supercharged. They can take some punishment once they’re hot but mechanical sympathy is essential for longevity. Something I’ve found useful during day to day life with the supercharger is octane booster. I run Millers its only £15 for around a litre and it gives you 10 tanks worth of boost , only a RON or two but more is more and I like to think it helps to keep things running well. Water-methanol injection is another advised after-market part for the safe running of these forced-induction cars. Lowering intake temperatures and increasing the octane levels the car will not only run cooler but create more power as a side product, so a win win. But other than the fact it’s a 13 year old estate car with a manual gearbox and 200bhp more than it left the factory with. It’s just a grey estate so there’s loads of room in the boot for whatever you may need to chuck in there , it’s comfortable it’s kinda quiet (100 cel downpipes and a non resonated Milltek) it’s pretty much the ultimate daily driver.
Cast your mind back to 2000, a little tricky for me I was 5. However Audi’s first Rennsport model, the Porsche co-designed RS2 was over the hill, was this just a flash in the pan? Oh no Audi were just getting started. Audi had started with a pretty good recipe in the RS2 with a 2.2 litre 5 cylinder. However their new base from the B5 S4 was graced with 6 cylinders 2 turbos and 261bhp. Not bad for 1999 however this was just the base for what was going to become one of the most tuned and iconic engines Audi has ever produced. Quattro GMBH Audi’s then junior performance division set to work enlisting British tuners Cosworth to develop the already good S4 engine into something truly remarkable and boy did they deliver. The engine returned with 375bhp and 440nm of torque and the gift of twin KO4 turbos. Meaning plenty more power could be had with some very minor tweaks, this was a cult car from the very start. However they were absolute pigs to work on with even routine jobs involving an engine drop at great expense. The cars were somewhat delicate from the start with exhaust cams wearing for unknown reasons at random mileages, however upgrades from LOBA were often used by owners.
The bodywork got some tweaks too, bold blistered arches made the car look mean with an aggressive stance like a bouncer, just waiting for you to step a foot out of place. Add this to the wide 18” wheels, beefy 360mm front brakes and the oval exhausts at the rear you knew you were looking at something very very special. The UK market was pretty small for the B5 RS4 with little over 500 units making their way across from Germany. All of which were pre-ordered and sold the second their tyres touched UK tarmac. So what are they like to drive? Well my car was not a standard example it was modified by QS Tuning who installed Milltek down-pipes a matching cat-back exhaust , Porsche 4 pot rear brakes at 330mm and 380nn Porsche 4 pot fronts ( however I swapped these out for b7 RS4 8 pots and 380mm discs). This coupled to their stage 3 map and power developed circa 460bhp. The car was typical of its era, very raw and unforgiving in its delivery. You plant your foot and wait for both turbos to spool, before a violent surge hits you and the car surges forward. In what can be described as an almost unpleasant fashion. The handling wasn’t the most confidence inspiring despite its Bilstein B12 set up all round. You often felt bumps like a kick directly to your spine , this car was hard and raw and it made no apologies for it. But once you hit boost none of it mattered it surged so aggressively with a symphony of v6 echoing through the cabin. You row through the gears as it just pulls and pulls , you just forget this car is 20 years old (at least in a straight line ). My car was fitted with Recaro Pole Position buckets as I had always wanted to recreate Audi’s press car (Homer) the club sport package. This gave owners the option to spec buckets, alcantara steering wheel, gearknob , stiffer suspension, a different exhaust and drilled discs all round.
I’m an honest man and I think it’s fair to say a lot of the B5’s charm was lost on me. I was too young to appreciate its character and I always found myself longing to be back in a b7. I must admit that the b5 has a simply iconic stance like the whale tail on an Escort Cosworth. It’s one of those cars you stand back and admire and you’ll always be pleased to see one at a show. I bought the B5 for the wrong reasons I loved how they looked stanced at a lot of German car shows but apart from that I knew very little about them. I just didn’t fall in love with it the way I did with the b7. I put some great parts into a very cool car ,my favourites being the Sportec wheels and Recaro buckets. Would I have another b5? Yes I would , would I daily drive it? Absolutely not. Parts are becoming harder and harder to source and some even basic maintenance parts are a nightmare for owners. They will soon all be relegated to collections or the odd weekend blast in June. It’s a grave shame there weren’t more b5s sold in the UK as people deserve to see them. Hopefully Audi heritage will start to produce parts again so that a few of these legendary cars will see the road just that bit more often.
So it’s around March 2019, my 2001 b5 Audi RS4 in avus silver is up for sale on various auction sites. For a laugh on Facebook Marketplace also. I end up getting a message from this guy , he’s umming and Arring about buying my b5 , he mentions he has a couple of interesting RS marques already. One of which being an 800bhp c6 rs6 the other being a TTS supercharged rs4 in Daytona grey. He states really he needs to downsize but that he will be in touch. I didn’t expect to hear from him again. You know how car forums are, we all chat about future plans, aspirations, a number of fellow enthusiasts ask me if I’ll be returning to a b7 (having had a sorted Daytona saloon just the year before) I replied no but had always wanted to build a supercharged b7. APR and TTS supercharged cars are the holy grail of the b7 world and good enough to scare even the new RS6’s. A day or so elapses and this guy shoots me another message regarding my b5 and casually mentions he owns a supercharged RS4 he would like to do a deal with. I laugh this off causally as a charged b7 is worth anything around £30k in the uk and my b5 is worth somewhere around £20k. So there’s an obvious Guelph in price. He said no he’s interested in a swap, so I play along to see where this goes. About 10 minutes later he coughs up what can only be described as the lowest resolution picture of a car I’ve ever seen. It was a Daytona grey brick shape that could of been an RS4 or it could have been a wall, it was hard to tell. Anyhow he mentions the mileage of this car is “quite high” at around 170k (something I would consider gargantuan) but it’s at MRC the renowned Audi tuner receiving a new supercharger. Not one to shy away at mileage we talk a little more about price and the cars well documented history (an original tts development car). I say I would be interested in a swap if the car is as good as it sounds. Here comes the Best Bit he agrees to meet with me when the car is ready, a couple of weeks elapse. We message occasionally to see where this is going after several delays (4 months total at MRC) but eventually we agree to meet at my place of work. I detail the b5 after a front end re-spray with it spruced up and looking well. When up turns this dirty neglected looking RS4, looking like it’s been sat under a tarpaulin for about 6 months during a harsh winter. But I stick with it we shake hands having a chat and he throws me the key. I have a look round disappointed to see comfort seats although he assured me the buckets are safely in storage should I want them. I open the bonnet and the most comical tired squeak groans out the engine bay is filthy considering it’s been worked on and serviced,it looks like it’s been pasted round the desert. Then comes the bodywork the lower door trims bowed out as water has got in, corroding the door bottoms. A small corrosion patch also on the front right wing, there’s tatty black wrap around the grill and window surrounds too. Fitted are the most haggard looking rear discs I’ve ever seen , the car is a disappointment to say the least. I get into the dirty and dusty cockpit and fire her up (just about stuttered into life) but to my relief she sounds solid on tick-over. I have a little test drive around the airside car park and no rattles to report nor bangs or clunks but she was far from mint. My b5 looking significantly the better car I try to leverage the deal , stating I would like the buckets fitted and the oem wheels as a spare set. There was also a spare set of mirrors caps available ( the ones fitted were painted in Daytona grey, I’ve no idea why)
We part ways while he leaves to think it over and that was it he vanished. A good week to ten days passes he reads my messages but no reply and I feel despite it’s tatty appearance the deal of a life time may have passed me by. Eventually I receive a message he says something along the lines of “I like the car where do we go from here?” I quote a date out of thin air in early April as it fits my days off, and there it was he agreed. I invited a friend down from wales as I knew he adored my b5 and hadn’t seen or driven it since it was complete. Off we set early one morning my friend behind the wheel and I begin to appreciate the comfy leather seats, the carbon clad dash the alcantara wheel and the overall character of the b5 realising it’s the last time I’ll ever be inside it. Or see it for that matter. The distinct smell all VAG cars have from the early naughties era. We arrive and like a jolly Father Christmas the owner who towered above me both in stature and breadth with a sizeable beard says he has a surprise for me , he’d had the b7 valeted to which it looked much more respectable. I looked closer and he’d even had the bucket seats fitted. Meanwhile his colleagues from work wrapped the oem wheels and placed them carefully on the back seats. I went off the sign the documents and just like that in April 2019 I took ownership of my third RS4 this one being TTS supercharged. A car I’d always dreamt of was finally mine. The dream came crashing down around 10 minutes later however, when one “accidental” spirited launch lit up all 4 Vredesteins, quickly followed by the ESP and abs lights. So after a very tentative drive home thinking I’ve shot myself in the foot. I manage to give it a much needed clean and decontamination with a clay bar, a new MAF meter was ordered which thankfully rectified this issue.
For more pictures and a little more on the backstory and development of the b7 feel free to find me on Instagram @samtalkscars