If you’ve seen any current Audi RS model, you’ve probably seen big horsepower, sexy styling and dynamic handling. However, the RS badge all started with the sort of car that most people (at least in America) cringe to think of — a wagon. That’s right, the very first RS car was the Audi RS2 Avant.
Back in the early ’90s, Audi wanted to make something with incredible performance and everyday practicality that could rival brand’s like BMW and Mercedes. But Audi was in a bit of a rut with this project, as it had never done anything like it prior, so the folks in Ingolstadt called up the folks at Porsche and asked for some help.
Essentially, Audi built the chassis and body (which derived from the plebeian Audi 80 sedan) and then sent it out to Porsche, who worked its magic. In fact, the Audi RS2 was almost as much Porsche as it was Audi, as the brakes, wheels and tires came from a Porsche 968 Clubsport. The Zuffenhausen-based brand then tuned the engine up and added a six-speed manual, for optimum performance.
The engine in question was a 2.2 liter turbocharged five-cyldiner engine, much like the original Quattro. However, Porsche fitted a KKK (no affiliation with the hate group) turbocharger which gave the RS2 315 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque. While it suffered from quite a bit of turbo lag, thanks to the big supercharger on the little engine, it was still capable of 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. While that’s nowhere near the sort of RS-fast we’re used to today, it was very quick back in 1994 when the car first launched. In fact, it was as fast as a Ferrari 456 of the time.
Back in the ’90s, the Audi RS2 was a revelation, with bonkers speed, crazy Quattro all-wheel drive grip and everyday practicality. However, if you drive it today, you’ll notice some strange things. The steering is a revelation today, as it shows the merits of a good ole fashioned hydraulic steering rack, being that it’s far more communicative than the electric racks of today. The turbo lag would also be pretty shocking, as modern sports cars are near-perfect at quelling turbo lag, but the RS2 is not.
In a world with techno-everything, fact screens, Google Earth and electronically adjustable everything in cars, it’s refreshing to see an old car like this getting love. Cars from this ear simply drive with a better sense of connection and character than cars of today.
If the Audi RS2 Avant is something that you want to buy, it could cost as much as over $50,000, so it isn’t cheap. But if you’re willing to deal with a bit of turbo lag and a lack of refinement, relative to modern sports cars, and you have the money, the Audi RS2 Avant is an amazing classes car to drive.