Audi Sport isn’t as storied or historic as some of the performance divisions of its rivals. For instance, BMW M is almost forty years old. However, Audi Sport has been around longer than a lot of casual car fans might think, as it’s now celebrating its 25th birthday.
It’s been 25 years since the first-ever Audi Sport product made its debut — the Audi RS2 Avant — which was as much of a unicorn then as it is now. Since then, Ingolstadt’s performance division has developed several other cars and will continue to debut different new models in the coming years. It’s also grown in popularity significantly, especially over the past couple of years. Even just a decade ago, Audi RS cars lacked the recognition of cars from BMW M or even Mercedes-AMG. Now, though, fans are beginning to notice more and more.
Cars like the Audi RS4 Avant and RS6 Avant continue to grow in popularity. Even relative newcomers, such as the Audi RS3 and TT RS, bring awareness to the brand by offering more affordable Audi Sport options. While ‘RS’ still doesn’t have the clout of BMW’s ‘M’ or Mercedes’ ‘AMG’, it’s still one of the major performance names in the business and it’s only going to continue to grow.
“Every RS model expresses the passion that we put into developing our high-performance cars,” said Oliver Hoffmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “For 25 years, our customers have been experiencing the RS models as masterful companions for everyday life that convey pure emotion and maximum driving enjoyment.”
Audi Sport and its RS models also have quite an interesting history. While BMW M was born on the race track and AMG was a massive tuner that was eventually bought by Mercedes-Benz, RS cars have more humble beginnings. For instance, the original Audi RS2 Avant was co-developed by Porsche because Audi didn’t have the funds or capability to create such a car alone. So its engine, suspension and brakes were all Porsche-produced. The first-gen Audi RS4 Avant was also a collaboration project, as its 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged engine was tuned by Cosworth to make its extra grunt. It wasn’t until the Audi R8 that the Audi Sport brand had real motorsport heritage.
This gallery of cars allows us to look back on some of the all-time greats to wear the “RS” badge. If you want to see them in person, though, an exhibition has opened at the Audi Forum in Neckarsulm to mark the anniversary. A total of 14 RS models will be on hand to seem, with some unique models to go along with the famous brand staples. Among them is also the racing version of the Audi TT RS which was developed for the factory-backed commitment at the Nürburgring, the RS5 DTM race touring car that was triumphant in the 2013 season, as well as a prototype of an Audi RS8 that never made it into production. Further, the exhibition also features an RS4 Sedan that received a highly exclusive paint finish by the Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto.
If you live in Germany, this is an exhibit worth checking out. It’s not likely you’ll get to see this collection of historic Audi RS cars in one place again. Here’s to 25 years and many, many more.