If there were a Book of Audi, and that book had a dust jacket, and that dust cover had a little blurb on the inside that told you what that book was about, this particular blurb would probably weave a tale of all-wheel-drive, unintended acceleration, and slightly boring executive sedans. But flip back to the 1990s, and the story was quite a bit different. This is a 1994 Audi RS2.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts (yeah, I intended that pun, don’t think I didn’t), a couple of housekeeping notes right up front. Firstly, I took these particular photos with a phone, so they aren’t as good as they could be. The world of guerrilla car blogging is such that one needs to be constantly vigilant, and in this case I saw the opportunity to catch a very rare car and leapt at it, proper equipment be damned. Secondly, holy Jesus I saw a real life RS2.
Here’s the thing about the RS2. Audi only ended up making 2881 of these little superwagons, and only 182 of them are in the UK. But even if this car were as plentiful the number of characters in a Tolkien novel, it’d still be a decidedly special thing. See, the Audi RS2 isn’t completely an Audi. Yes, it is based on a humble 80 Avant, but look closely at those brake calipers in the next picture and you can see the familiar, comforting font of none other than Porsche. The famed maker of the Beetle also donated wheels and rearview mirrors from a 964, but don’t go thinking the Audi-Porsche relationship was all window dressing. Porsche also lowered the car’s suspension by 40 millimeters and tweaked the suspension. Fast is an understatement.
The RS2 is powered by a turbocharged, 2.2 liter five cylinder developing 315 horsepower. Mind you, this was a time when the equivalent BMW M3 “only” made 286 horsepower. 60 miles per hour from a standstill came up in just about five seconds, but frankly that’s the car’s least impressive number (which is saying something, because five seconds is pretty hair-raising). Audi famously recorded the RS2 reaching 30 miles per hour from a standstill in 1.5 seconds, which was quicker than the then-fastest production car in the world, the McLaren F1. Most of this was down to Audi’s tried-and-true, all-wheel-drive Quattro system, which was honed on the rally circuit in cars like the legendary S1. It also didn’t hurt that the RS2 had a recorded top speed of 162 miles per hour, making it the fastest station wagon in the world at the time.
Now is the point where I usually wax lyrical about how it isn’t really about the numbers, but instead something like experience or occasion or free love or something vague like that. But not today. See, the RS2 is about the numbers. It’s a car you need to think about in the right context, ultimately. It isn’t like an Italian sports car which makes a great noise and looks like Olivia Munn but breaks down all the time. Nor is it like a British car that is a bucket of nerdy fun but- um- also breaks down all the time. No, this is a German car, not just for enthusiasts, who go all weak in the knees for its performance, but also for normal, sane people, who could use its practicality. It is a wagon at its basest, after all, and moreover, one that launched a whole line of fast, practical German cars. In short, a standout chapter in the Audi story.
- I probably should’ve led with this, but hello everyone, sorry for being gone for so long. Technical difficulties that had absolutely nothing to do with me spilling something on my computer keyboard have led to quite a bit of a backlog of cars from the UK and beyond, but it looks like everything’s smoothed itself out (read: dried off) now, so that’s good news.
- This was the first car from Audi to wear the high-performance RS badge, which stood for RennSport, which are the German words for “racing sport.” The RS2’s badge actually has a little Porsche logo in it too, which is as cool as the general temperature over here in London. Which is to say very cool.
- The RS2 was actually built in a Porsche factory, the same one responsible for producing the also-brilliant Porsche 959.
- Weirdly, in the event that anything breaks on your RS2, the cheapest parts to replace are currently the ones that’ve come from Porsche.