If you’re not completely up to date on your European performance car lingo, RS is Audi’s equivalent of BMW’s M-division or Mercedes-Benz’s AMG wing. They turn out aggressive, high-performance versions of Audi’s standard vehicles geared towards enthusiasts and commuters who want to make sure they’re never late to the office – but their offerings in the US have always lagged behind that of BMW and Mercedes.
For a time, Audi only offered one RS model over here in the states, which means there have only been six different RS models ever sold over here. With a small number to choose from, here is our list of the 5 best RS cars from “worst” (they’re all fantastic), to best.
- RS5 – B8 and B9 Generation
Putting this car at the lowest spot on the list feels sacrilegious, but with how great all RS cars are, the competition is close. The B8 and B9 generations of the RS5 has a couple of issues in our eyes. The engine is bolted in out passed the front shock towers, making the car have a tendency to understeer, for one. The B8 RS5 uses a N/A 4.2-liter V8 which sounds heavenly, but the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 in the newest version almost definitely will not sound as nice.
The RS5 is more adept at handling street conditions than its competition, the BMW M4, but the M-car is better suited for track duty, unfortunately.
The A7 is one of the most attractive looking cars Audi has ever put together, and the RS version of the car is no different. It also happens to be one of the fastest four-door cars on the market, which is nice. It is beginning to look somewhat dated compared to the new M5 and E63 AMG, but the latest RS7 makes a whopping 605-horsepower from its 4-liter twin-turbo V8. The main issue with the RS7 is that we would prefer the RS6 Avant, but Audi for some reason doesn’t see fit to sell it here in the states.
It seems Audi has finally answered enthusiast’s prayers by bringing the RS3 to the states, finally. The BMW M2 and Mercedes CLA45 have been occupying this segment of the market unopposed for a time now, but no more. The 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder in the RS3 puts out 400-horsepower, making it a formidable opponent. The only drawbacks to the RS3 is that we won’t be getting the hatchback variant over here, nor will there be a manual option. The dual-clutch-only RS3 will cost around $55,000, which makes it a great value it its sector.
- B7 RS4
The second place spot on our list goes to an RS model that many didn’t even realize we had here in the states. It was only available in 2008 in the US, and of the 10,000 or so B7 RS4s produced, only about 2,000 ended up in the states. It could be had in a sedan or a cabriolet version here in the US, both of which came with an absolute monster of an engine. The 4.2-liter V8 that powered the B7 RS4 put out 414-horsepower and could rev to an astronomical 8,250 RPM. This was a car geared towards drivers and enthusiasts, so it was only available with a six-speed manual. Though the European version of the car got some configurations and interior goodies we didn’t see, the B7 RS4 is still a sought after, collectible car.
- TT RS
Our pick for the best RS car may be controversial to some because of its unique nature, but hear us out. Using the historically humble TT chassis as a base, the TT RS is a car built for true enthusiasts to enjoy. The original iteration produced 340-horsepower from its 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine, with the TT RS Plus creating 20 additional ponies on top of that. The newest TT RS is a 400-horsepower powerhouse, but is only available with a dual-clutch transmission.
Why do we love the TT RS so much? It is somewhat of an underdog in the eyes of many, but it is easily tunable, and has the potential to take down its big brother, the R8.