Audi RS-4 emblem

The Story and History of the Audi RS4

Audi enjoys a reputation for producing top quality luxury cars and the Audi RS4 is considered the upper echelon of the Audi A4 family of vehicles.

In some countries, this car is referred to as a sport compact car. The RS4 is produced by Audi’s high-performance group, Audi Sports GMBH. However, the RS4 is only manufactured in limited numbers, making it a sought after vehicle.

The B5 was the first generation and it was produced from 1999-2001. Next came the B7 which was available from 2006-2008. From 2012-2105 the B8 was in production. And in 2018 the B9 was introduced.

Let’s take a look at the history of this incredible car.

Audi RS-4 steering wheel

The original RS4

Audi debuted the RS4 in 1999 and it ran until 2001 and it was also known as the B5. This vehicle could only be purchased in Europe, parts of Asia and parts of Latin America. For this original version, Audi used its existing platform and constructed this car as an Avant. This meant that the 6,030 cars that Audi produced shared certain similarities with the predecessor, the Audi S4, but there were some differences.

Since the Audi RS4 was made with a wider axle, it was designed to have wider front and rear wheel fenders. Audi also decided to keep the rear spoiler from the S4. The wider wheel arches and the spoiler changed the aerodynamics of the car.

Additionally, the engine of the RS4 was revamped in many ways. The engine was built with 5 valves per cylinder. The engineers also gave it a larger intake and smaller exhaust ports. They added 2 turbochargers, stronger connecting rods and the engine management system was recalibrated. These changes drastically changed both the torque and the output from the engine.

This first-generation Audi RS4 was a 6-speed manual transmission. This B5 was only manufactured as a station wagon with 5 doors and 5 seats. This generation of the Audi RS4 came with 18” alloy wheels and had optional winter tires available to purchase. For safety, Audi included airbags and LED headlights.

Second generation B7

From 2006-2008 Audi produced the second generation of the RS4 the B7.  With this generation, Audi sold this car in Europe starting in 2006. By 2007, they started offering them for sale in the United States. In total, 10,000 Audi RS4 B7’s were sold and of those 2000 were sold in the US.

A Cabriolet version of the B7 was manufactured and was available during this period as well, but only in Europe. This generation of RS4 was capable of going from 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds. This made the B7 an incredibly fast car.

What was unique about the second generation RS4 B7, was that is was manufactured in several different body styles. It was produced as a 4 door sedan, a 5 door 5 seat station wagon, and a 2 door 4 seat cabriolet convertible. This time Audi made the front and rear fenders even wider so it could house an even wider axle.

Additionally, the brakes on the B7 were actually constructed of 2 pieces. They are cast-iron discs that are ventilated and float on aluminum alloy disc hubs. This helps to reduce the transfer of heat to the ball bearings during braking.

In Japan and the UK, the standard size for the wheels was 19”. This size was an option for the North American and European consumers to purchase.

B7 safety

Audi used a method of laser beam welding and high strength steel to help reinforce the body of the car and protect the crumple zones. They also included as a standard feature both a driver side and passenger side airbag, along with a side curtain airbag. Eventually, Audi would use this airbag curtain along the length of the car, protecting both the front and rear passengers.

The cars for the European market were made with racing-style bucket seats with bolsters and lumbar support.

The version made for the US market only featured the bucket seats in the front and included a lower side airbag.

The B7 engine

The engine for this generation was further refined from the first generation. This time Audi included 4 valves per cylinder and 2 overhead camshafts on each cylinder; making it a “quad-cam”.

The engine of the B7 was also 6-speed manual transmission. Consumers had the option to choose ceramic brakes with this model.

Introduction of the Quattro

With the second generation of the Audi RS4, the company introduced the Quattro. The Quattro designated the vehicle as having a permanent 4 wheel drive powertrain system.

Traction for this model was provided by Audi’s “Electronic Differential Lock”. This system monitors the speed and rotation of the right and left wheels. If one of them starts to spin faster, theoretically the car is slipping or losing traction. When that happens, the car will automatically apply the brake to the spinning wheel and send more torque to the other wheel.

Special edition for US customers only

In 2008 Audi decided to produce a special edition version that was only available in the United States. This special version of the RS4 B7 was sold for $2000 more than the sticker price and 300 of these limited versions were bought.

The 3rd generation

The RS4 B8 is the third generation to be produced and was available to consumers from 2012-2015. Audi only produced 7000 vehicles of this generation and none of them were offered in the United States. This European only model was a Quattro with a V8 engine. This version saw Audi include ceramic brakes as a standard feature. The ceramic brakes helped the car to be capable of heavy braking, without worrying about brake fade.

The current generation

Currently, Audi is offering the 4th generations RS4. It is the RS4 B9 and was produced starting in 2018. The current model sports redesigned wheels and a turbocharged V6 engine. Audi also included as a standard feature the 8-speed torque converter Tiptronic on the B9 model.


Audi enjoys a well-deserved place among luxury car manufacturers and their vehicle’s history reflects that. Their line of the RS4 family includes many well thought out features and designs, with each generation building on the previous one. The company has produced a car that is capable of great speed while making safety a priority. Audi continues to expand on each generation, keeping the good and improving and refining the rest.

There are currently Audi RS4’s of all generations on the roads today. These vehicles can be found in Europe, parts of Asia and parts of Latin America and the United States. Owners prize these vehicles for their ability to be a luxury car that is safe on the road and capable of handling great speed.

Any current owner, or those who simply admire the mechanical and engineering work of art the Audi RS4 is, should add the Audi RS4 repair manual to their collection. This manual will help you keep your vehicle in top shape for many years.

Get an Audi RS4 repair manual right here.


About Chad Ina


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