This thing is a bruiser, 450hp from a twin turbocharged 4.2L V8 in a standard German luxury sedan with all the bells and whistles. I’ve seen tested 0-60 as low as about 4.3seconds. When the RS6 came out it raised the bar of what a European performance sedan could be with 50 more ponies than the BMW M5 and around 100 more than the Mercedes E55 at the time, and it put that power down tremendously because of its Quattro all wheel drive system. Audi shook things up with the RS6 to be sure.
Today you can find them for between $20-35k, not bad at all for something that will stay with the likes of a brand new Mercedes C63 AMG almost a decade later. The RS6 is a solid performance bargain if you need the luxury but want the power for you commute and other activities. The RS6 is automatic only, but has paddle shifters if you wish to control the gears, not the best choice I know, but better than nothing. Also, if 450hp isn’t enough for you then you will be happy to know that, being turbocharged, power is gained easily with basic modifications. My research shows something in the area of 520bhp from diverter valves, basic exhaust, and a chip alone. More to be gained if your pockets are deep enough of course, but 520hp in a luxury sedan should be enough for most.
Reliability wise the RS6 does not suffer from the turbo issues the B5 S4 from the same era did because it has different, K04, turbos. Audis of its generation are however known to fall victim to the electrical issues that plagued many German cars of this period. Running costs will be rather expensive, and if you have to ask about gas mileage as a primary concern then you should look elsewhere. Like the E39 M5 and other cars like it, the RS6 will make you pay to play, so just be sure you are up for it if you are going to write the check.
RS6s are fairly rare cars too; certainly to the point that you won’t always be seeing other ones wherever you drive. They also require a trained eye to recognize when compared with standard C5 A6 models, so the car will have a nice sleeper effect to be used on the victims of your choosing. It is an extremely fast European luxury cruiser that offers a more grown up, albeit more expensive, option to the likes of a Subaru STi or Mitsubishi Evo in the $20k price range. It is surely a car more at home on the open road than on a rally stage though, but surely it will offer much fun in its realm. The Audi RS6 is a great buy for the cool factor alone, let alone all of its tangible appeal as well. I know it’s on my list.