In our latest edition of Audi Through the Decades, we’re spotlighting a personal favorite of mine but that’s not why it’s here. The 1994 Audi RS2 Avant (’94 is the only year it was made), is the best Audi of the ’90s for a few reasons, chief of which is that it was incredibly important for the Audi brand moving forward.
The Audi RS2 Avant is one of the brand’s most incredible cars. Based on the Audi 80 Avant, the RS2 was actually built with the help of Porsche. While the 2.2 liter turbocharged five-cylinder was an Audi engine, Porsche breathed on it to help it make 315 PS (310 hp) and 302 lb-ft of torque. That was a ton of power for a small wagon back in 1994. When paired with a six-speed manual and Quattro all-wheel drive, the Audi RS2 Avant was actually quicker to 30 mph than most high-end performance cars, at reached 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. That would give a modern Audi S4 a real fright.
Porsche didn’t just stop at the engine, though. It developed the suspension and brakes, as well. So it was sharper and more agile than any other Audi on the market. Hell, it was sharper than a lot of sports cars on the market and it was a five-door family wagon.
However, the most important aspect of the Audi RS2 Avant is the fact that it started the “RS” brand, so to speak. Audi’s “RS” (RennSport, loosely meaning “Racing Sport” in German) models are now made by the Audi Sport division and are almost as well-known as BMW’s M Division and Mercedes-AMG. They’re the fastest, most exciting Audis on the market and they all owe their existence to the RS2 Avant from twenty five years ago.
There’s also the fact that it looks awesome, has a great interior and is a kick-ass family wagon co-developed by Porsche. There’s little to dislike about the Audi RS2 Avant and even its downsides can be listed off as quirks that give it character. For instance, being a heavily turbocharged ’90s performance car, it suffers from a ton of turbo-lag. But that delay, followed by a massive surge of power, gives it character and a sense of the era it was made in. So it’s less of a downside and more of an interesting quirk.
All in, the combination of importance, style, performance and Porsche-factor makes the Audi RS2 Avant the best Audi from the ’90s. Sure, there were other great Audis from that decade, such as the B5 RS4 and D2-gen Audi A8, but the RS2 tops them all.