Back in the early ’80s, when Lancia and Peugeot started to catch up to the Audi Sport Quattro’s (seen above) dominance, the engineers in Ingolstadt knew they needed to get creative. The Sport Quattro’s all-wheel drive advantage was slipping away, as its competitors also embraced the technology, and those same competitors also gained themselves an advantage over the Sport Quattro — mid-engine layouts.
Audi knew it needed to embrace a mid-engine layout if it wanted to take on the best from Lancia, Peugeot, and Ford in WRC. What Audi came up with was an incredibly interesting rally car, one that likely would have done extremely well, but one that was also never actually used — the Audi Sport Quattro RS 002. In this new article from EVO Magazine, we get to take a look at the RS 002 and learn about the most interesting Audi rally car that never was.
The Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 was a bit of a skunkworks project, developed in secret, behind the back of Audi boss Ferdinand Piëch. See, Piëch was one of the masterminds behind the original Audi Quattro and didn’t like the idea of developing a new, mid-engine car that would render the original Quattro obsolete. So Audi engineers developed the mid-engine RS 002 in secret, behind closed doors, and it wasn’t until a magazine snapped some spy photos of it that Piëch found out. Once he did, the project was scrapped, as neither he, nor the rest of the VW Group board were happy that a project was being developed behind their backs.
It’s unfortunate that the project was killed, though, as the Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 development mule is awesome. It looks incredible and, judging by Ken Block’s test drive of it, seems like it could have been the coolest Audi rally car of all time. In the end, it’s now a piece of history at the Audi museum, destined to collect dust, rather than dirt and mud.