‘The RS5 is generally a good car and we don’t see too many issues with them,’ says Ed Jackson of VAG specialists APS. ‘It’s not cheap to run, though. We always remind people that this was a near-£70,000 car when new and running costs don’t depreciate like cars do!
‘But provided the car’s been carefully serviced, they’re pretty robust – and that includes the engine.’ Officially the RS5 has long, condition-based servicing intervals (up to 19,000 miles and two years), but APS and other specialists recommend at least an annual oil-change.
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The V8 is related to, but not the same as, the one in the highly regarded B7 RS4. Unfortunately it suffers the same problem with build-up of carbon around the inlet valves: oil from the breather system enters the inlet tract, and direct injection means there’s nothing to wash it off the back of the valves. Doing lots of short journeys seems to hasten the problem.
Not every car is affected, but Ed says it’s a common problem after around 70,000 miles. It’s around a day’s work to decoke the heads, so reckon on about £700 including VAT. Any telltale signs? An engine light on the dash, lacklustre performance, embers coming out of the exhaust (noticeable from a following car at night); but basically, if it hasn’t been done, allow a contingency.
The drivetrain is also generally robust, but do check the S-tronic for smoothness in both auto and manual, up and down the ’box, and at low and higher speed. Underneath the car, look for any leaks, including from the rear driveshafts. And check it’s had the big, third service when the oil in the gearbox and the diffs should be changed. Any skimping here could mean big bills further down the road.
Suspension, steering, brakes
DRC (Dynamic Ride Control) dampers came as standard in the UK. They’re prone to leaking and expensive to replace, so check them visually, and test the three modes on the move: particularly bouncy suspension means they needs attention. Some owners replace the adaptive set-up with passive Bilstein coilovers but, when it’s working, DRC suits the RS5.
Bushes and balljoints generally last well but may need replacing at around 80,000 miles depending on the life the car has led, so listen out for any clonks and knocks over poor surfaces.
The standard brakes feature massive vented and drilled discs at the front with eight-piston, four-pad calipers. A set of front discs and pads is almost a grand just for the parts, so it’s well worth checking how much life is left. Squeaking front brakes seem to be common, but that’s just an irritation. Vibrations through the steering wheel when braking, however, could mean warped discs and a big bill looming. Carbon-ceramic discs were a £6250 option and are ferociously expensive to replace should the need arise: an unnecessary complication in a car unlikely to spend time on track.
Body, interior, electrics
As you’d expect, no corrosion issues as yet, so any signs of a respray probably point to accident damage. Check the rear spoiler rises and retracts as it should (there’s a button on the centre console to raise it manually) and doesn’t get stuck either up or down. The cabin is hard-wearing, so anything less than immaculate condition points to careless ownership. Listen out for squeaks and rattles over poor surfaces – they can be a devil to trace and rectify. Otherwise just check all the toys work – there are plenty of them, so allow plenty of time.
What to pay
Early cars (pre 2012MY facelift) are slipping towards £20k now. Consider that a highly specced RS5 would have been as much as £70k new and that seems like a serious bargain, but approach with caution, check the history carefully, and ideally pay for an inspection by a specialist. We reckon £24k-25k is a realistic entry point for a low-mileage car with just one or two owners, but even then we’d recommend a contingency fund and/or a warranty.
Facelifted cars start around £27k, with low-mileage examples c£30k. A 2014 car with all the right bits and a full history should be £35k-37k. Particularly desirable options include the B&O hi-fi, 20-inch alloys and bucket seats.
What we said
Driven, June 2010 - evo 144
‘DRC offers three settings: Comfort, Automatic and Dynamic. In the softest, the car is about 20 per cent softer than standard; likewise it’s 20 per cent firmer on the hardest setting. For me, the car was happiest in Automatic, although Comfort might well enhance the RS5’s GT credentials in the UK.
‘On track, the centre differential and torque vectoring disguise the RS5’s chub surprisingly well. It doesn’t understeer much, and the front axle remains very accurate: you can place the car just where you want to. The centre diff is completely mechanical, so responds immediately to grip changes; much more intuitive than systems that rely on electronic sensors. Trouble is, it never ever feels like the rear axle has 60 per cent of the torque, as per Audi’s claim for the default split.
‘It’s not a bad car, the RS5; it’s just lacking inspiration and clear direction: the very qualities that defined the much-missed RS4. Some people will love the noise and the fuss-free environment the RS5 provides. Folk who love driving will be better off in an M3.’ – evo 144
|Max Torque||317lb ft@4000-6000rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual clutch, four-wheel drive|
|Top Speed||155mph (limited)|
|Price new||£57,480 (2010)|