Why the 2003 Audi RS6 Was Both Wonderful and Awful

Audi has a long history of making some truly great automobiles that are both fast and luxurious. Americans consumers have gotten some amazing cars from Audi, but it may come as a surprise to many that its best automobiles never make it across the Atlantic Ocean. While Audi has not given an official explanation as to why, one potential reason may have a lot to do with European safety standards versus American safety standards.

According to Jalopnik, just like when a few Americans dropped tea into the Boston Harbor as a way to reject British taxes, America also rejects European safety standards on cars. Because of this, Audi would have to make a car that met the United Nations Economic Commission For Europe (UNECE) standards as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One car that did make it to America for one year was the 2003 Audi RS6. Doug DeMuro released a YouTube video explaining why the RS6 was an incredible car that left many Americans wanting more.

What problems does the RS6 have?

According to DeMuro in his video, the transmission is the biggest problem with the RS6. It has an extremely powerful engine that the transmission just can’t keep up with as it ages. DeMuro also goes on to explain that the RS6 is a very expensive vehicle that comes with some very expensive repairs.

While the transmission is reported to be a big problem, the NHTSA had only two recalls for the RS6 and the transmission was not one of them. One was for a fuel tank rollover valve. According to the NHTSA, “A fuel lead in the presence of an ignition source could lead to a vehicle fire.” The second recall was VW/Drivers side dash fire. The NHTSA reports, “A fire could originate in the left dashboard area.”

Car complaints, which is a great resource to use when thinking about buying a new or used car, had no complaints to report from consumers.


According to Motor Trend, “Though docile when driven moderately, this Maximum-Strength Audi is a serious performer when prodded. Strange as this may sound, its acceleration feels supple yet brutal at the same time. The Tip trans works great, too, responding quickly to paddle commands with no slop between shifts.” What makes the Audi RS6 even more great was the 450 hp and a 4.2L all-alloy V-8 power engine. Its has AWD, a handling-oriented suspension, and huge vented disc brakes that deliver much better performance.

Exterior styling

DeMuro reports that the RS6 was the fastest sedan in the world when it went on sale in America back in 2003. This may come as a surprise since the exterior doesn’t have that muscle car look to it that many associate with speed, but the facts remain the same. The huge dual exhaust gave a clue that the RS6 is built for speed, as well as a small spoiler on the trunk.

Interior styling

Automakers are pushing for more technology now with infotainment systems that may prove to be more frustrating than helpful, but that wasn’t available in 2003. Still, Audi chose to go with a more simplistic and comfortable approach with the RS6. DeMuro was especially pleased with how Audi didn’t place thousands of badges all over the car.

Solar panels are now being placed in cars in order to make the vehicle more green, but in 2003 Audi added solar panels for a much different reason. The RS6 had solar panels installed in the sunroof to power the climate control. According to DeMuro, this didn’t work as intended, and the feature was scrapped in later models.

One thing DeMuro didn’t like about the interior was the placement of the cup holders. One was placed over the radio where a sweating cup would drip water all over the radio. The other was placed in the center console where the lid smacks into the cup and risks turning it over.

Driving the RS6

DeMuro was impressed with the lack of lag when pressing the gas pedal and how nimble it feels while driving. The steering was also very responsive.

If you’re looking for a great car and have the money to pay for the transmission repairs, the RS6 may be the perfect used car for you.