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Retro

The B5 RS4 turns 25: here’s your quick-fire guide to Audi’s lovely old estate

it was built as the harder, faster and more mechanically adept follow-up to the RS2. Here's what you need to know

Audi RS4
  • Audi RS4 B5

    How can you not love a hot estate? They show the rest of the world that you may be all grown up, but there’s still a hint of juvenile left within. They’re an ode to duality; a cheers to pasting supercars at their own game, while doubling up as a bedding area for your dog to recolour with mud and swamp.

    It’s a wonderful car class, and this year, one of its chief instigators is celebrating a significant milestone: the B5 Audi RS4 turns 25. So we thought we’d give you lot a quick history lesson. Let’s delve right in.

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  • It’s the successor to the first-ever Audi RS car

    Audi RS4 B5

    We’re talking about the bonkers RS2, of course. That was the car which really elevated the hot estate game when launched in the summer of ‘94 as a collaboration between Audi and Porsche. So the B5 had some pretty big shoes to fill… to put it mildly. 

  • The powertrain was built by Cosworth

    Audi RS4 B5

    To make sure the B5 had the right ingredients to succeed the RS2, Audi drafted in the chief mechanical anoraks at Cosworth to work on its powertrain. They then nabbed the 2.7-litre biturbo V6 from a standard S4 and added bigger air intakes, recast the cylinder heads with aluminium, tinkered with the ECU and did many more no doubt highly technical, very important and delicate... things.

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  • It can hit 30mph in just 1.7 seconds

    Audi RS4 B5

    But the result of Cosworth’s work was anything but delicate: the B5’s engine produces a whopping 375bhp and 325lb ft of torque. For context, this translates into a 4.9s run to 62mph en route to an unrestricted top speed above 170mph. And remember: it was built so long ago that the Euro had only just been launched.

  • It was good around the twisty stuff

    Audi RS4 B5

    Armed with a multi-link independent suspension, twin-piston brake calipers and Audi’s most advanced road-ready Quattro system at the time, the B5 could keep up with just about anything else from its day around a series of chicanes and hairpins. Most importantly, it looks handy. And very, very cool.

  • Audi only made 6,030 units worldwide

    Audi RS4 B5

    It may have felt sufficient at the time, but 25 years on, we wish Audi had continued production for a few more years beyond 2001. But since there are so few good examples left in the wild, even the most high-mileage, partially-rusted B5 will set you back around £25,000. If you’re after a minter, expect to comfortably double or even triple that figure. Perhaps that shows just how collectible it is, even by today’s standards.

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