Back in 1994, Audi were known for producing good quality, but ultimately boring cars. The original rally-winning Quattro was out of production, and they didn’t have anything else that could set the world alight. But all that changed in 1994.
The company decided they needed something to make them stand out from the crowd; a performance car that rewrote the rules. Rather than start work on a brand new car, they chose to breathe some life into one of their current models, their 80 Avant. At the time, this seemed a very unlikely candidate for high performance – until Porsche got involved with the project.
The boys from Stuttgart took the Audi away and gave it a full complement of go-fast goodies. The 2.2ltr 5-cylinder engine made a great base for tuning and was completely overhauled, with larger KKK24 turbo, new inlet manifold, cams, intercooler, injectors and ECU.
The result was a healthy 315bhp, which translated into 0-60mph in 4.8sec, 0-100mph in 13.1sec and a top speed of 162mph. This put it smack bang into Porsche 993 territory – something no other car manufacturer had even dared to try and achieve.
To cope with the extra power, the RS2 came with lowered and uprated suspension, Porsche 993 brakes and Cup wheels. Aesthetically, the estate had minor tweaks including 993 mirrors and a new front bumper to aid cooling. Arse-hugging electric Recaros and discreet RS2 badges finished off the subtle, Q-car looks.
The downside to all of this extra gear was the price. Even in 1994, the RS2 would set you back nearly £50k. For that money you could get a proper sports car such as a Porsche 911 or Mercedes SL. But the big news came when Autocar tested it and found it was quicker than the mighty McLaren F1 0-30mph! This was mainly down to the Audi’s 4WD system, but it still made for great headlines, and fantastic pub bragging for lucky owners.
These days, with standard hot hatches knocking on the door of 315bhp, the new crop of super estates and saloons need over 500bhp to cope with their extra girth. Put the RS2 next to a BMW M5, E63 AMG or the latest Audi RS6 and it’ll look pretty unimpressive.
However, 15 years after launch, the RS2 remains a formidable weapon. The car that spawned a generation of super estates and saloons, it’s a true performance legend.
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