Five star. This ballistic B5 is packing 500bhp so has the go to back up all that show… Words Davy Lewis Photography AJ Walker. AUDI RS4 500hp B5.
There’s something about an original that gets under your skin. The first version of something – whether it’s a trainer, a film or a car is somehow special. It’s odd when you think about it, as quite often, the first version of something isn’t quite right. It’s not until it’s refreshed and V2 is releases that everything comes together. This may be true of smart phones, TVs and other tech gadgets, but with cars? I’m not so sure.
On the one hand, you can’t deny that each time Audi releases a new version of a well-loved model, it will be bristling with technology. It’ll be more powerful, more reliable and generally better all round. Yet many of us still hanker after the original. Nowhere is this more so than with the RS4.
The original B5 was released in 2000 and immediately made a statement. Here was a 375bhp, four-wheel drive estate car that could outflank a Porsche. It boasted a Cosworth-tuned, twin-turbo V6, fantastic blistered wheel arches and a presence that oozed understated aggression – something #Audi
does so well.
But here’s the thing: the B5 RS4 is now 17 years old. Two further generation of RS4 have been released, with another, the B9, due to drop later this year. But, for many, the original B5 is still the one.
Forget the fact that it’s been eclipsed dynamically by the newer models. Ignore the issues with reliability inherent in a highly-tuned-from-the-factory machine like this. Put to the back of your mind the horror stories you’ll hear from B5 fans who have almost bankrupted themselves attempting to keep their pride and joy on the road (times this by ten if you’ve tuned it) and focus on the good bits. Of which there are many. Which is why there’s such a healthy appetite for these things.
So when serial Audi tuner, Julian Loose and our man, Adam Walker, spotted this in-your-face RS4 in Austria, I was keen to find out more.
On the face it, this is ‘just’ another RS4 with a fancy wrap. It has a taste of the Jon Olsson about it– he of the extreme RS6 and R8 Gumball fame. However a bit more investigation revealed that this was a proper build, featuring a 500bhp engine, tuned chassis and more.
Let’s kick off with that engine. The twin-turbo V6 needs no introduction. The 2.7-litre unit came with a factory fettled 375bhp and went very well indeed. But, as the years pass, this highly-tuned lump needs plenty of TLC to keep it running as it should. It’s a complete arse to work on and needs to be dropped for many, even routine jobs, which is why it can end up costing a small fortune in labour rates alone. Plus there are numerous documented issues that will occur at some stage from corroded pipework to blown turbos.
So, it you’re really going to do it, you may as well get stuck in and go for more power right from the off – and make sure you uprate all the necessary parts in one hit. That way, you (hopefully) won’t be spending more time in the garage than on the road.
The owner, Ilkka, has gone for a tried and tested setup of RS6 hybrid turbos to provide the boost. There are 630cc injectors and a TFSI coil conversion, plus Wagner intercoolers, a cold air intake and custom made exhaust with the cats removed – a sure fire recipe for big fun. With around 500bhp on tap performance is best described as brisk.
The whooshing of those twin-turbos, combined with the snarl from that unrestricted exhaust means this thing emits the kind of V6 howl that makes you smile. It’s a special B5-ness that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
The stock transmission copes admirably with the extra grunt and the tough sixspeed box takes it all in its stride. Again the manual gear lever is part of the reason so many people love these things.
With significantly more power than when it left the factory and with the ravages of time, the chassis needed updating to cope. A full complement of poly bushes was fitted, to remove that saggy, vague feeling that occurs when stock bushes wear out.
Again it’s a pain in the ass job to complete, but it makes a big difference, especially on older Audis. With less play in the suspension and steering components, the B5 feels tighter and more responsive. To allow the suspension to be finetuned, a set of KW Variant 3s were ordered.
These multi-adjustable units allow full control over bump and rebound, to provide a sporty, yet forgiving feel. The geometry has been professionally setup to give this RS4 a more dialled feel, with far more adjustablity than the neutral, understeer focused stock set up.
The final upgrade for the chassis is a set of brakes nicked off a Porsche. These meaty calipers were designed to stop a 170+mph sportscar, so do a fine job on the RS4 teamed up with ECS Tuning discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads.
Styling wise Audi got it right first time and there’s no need to add bits, aside from the odd splitter or maybe vent if you’re into that sort of thing. So this B5 remains stock, aside from a wrap. Now, it’s not going to be to all tastes, but Ilkka wanted something to make the car stand out at events and the Jon Olsson-inspired camo wrap certainly ticks that box.
One thing that had to be bang on the money was the wheels. The 3-piece, multispoke Rotiforms fill the wide arches very nicely – and at a girthy 10.5-inches, they should. Some work was required to get them to fit right, but they look great.
Inside, the stock seats have been replaced with some of the best in the business, Recaro Pole Positions. These fixed back efforts not only look great but also save weight. The GT-inspired interior is completed with a suede steering wheel and gear knob.
So there we have it – another wellfinished RS4 B5 that reminds us how much love there is for these things.
TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #2000
Engine 2.7 twin-turbo V6, #RS6
hybrid turbos, #Wagner
intercoolers, cold air intake, custom turbo back exhaust with cats removed, custom map, #Siemens-Deka
630cc injectors #TFSI
Transmission 6-speed manual
Brakes Porsche 911 calipers with #ECS
discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads, braided lines
coilovers, polybushed, full geometry set up
Wheels 10.5x19in #Rotiform-INDT
3-piece wheels with 255/30 Michelin Pilot SuperSports
Interior Recaro Pole Position seats, suede RS4 steering wheel and gearknob, PLX a/f ratio meter FIS control in the OEM screen to show boost, exhaust temp etc
Exterior Full Avery charcoal matte metallic wrap
“There’s still so much love for the B5”
Above left Recaro Pole Positions.
Above Alcantara-clad wheel.
Above top: Porsche brakes sit behind 10.5x19in Rotiform INDs.
Right: The 2.7 #V6
heart pumps out around 500bhp.