The RS2 was Audi’s first ‘RS’ quattro model. A collaborative work between Audi and Porsche in the mid 90s, the RS2 was not only the world’s fastest production wagon, it was also one of the fastest cars money could buy.
On sale for just three years (1994–96) the RS2 was based on the S2 and built on the Audi 80 platform. The S2 was built in coupé, estate and saloon models by Audi, although, the only variation imported to Australia was a very limited number of coupés. An initial run of 2200 RS2s was planned, in Avant guise only, but demand saw the final production end closer to 2900 units. Just 180 of these were made in RHD and none were imported to Australia—despite plans from then importer Inchcape to bring 25 RS2s down under, to be sold at an estimated cost of $145,000.
(Clearly the above image shows there is at least one RS2 in Australia, and you can read more about this car after the jump.)
Transformation of this otherwise humble estate car into a serious performance weapon took place at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen factory. Audi would deliver basic S2 shells and Porsche would then work their magic. They did this by giving the 2.2 litre inline 5 cylinder engine a bigger turbo, along with several other modifications, including a larger intercooler, larger injectors, modified camshafts, modified exhaust system and a revised engine management system. Porsche also supplied the wheels, brakes (via Brembo) and, of all things, the wing mirrors. The engine was good for 232kW/450Nm, enough to propel the RS2 from rest to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.
Porsche also tweaked the suspension, with revised Bilstein struts and stiffer anti-roll bars, sharpening the generally mild and dull characteristics of the Audi 80 platform.
Despite these revisions the RS2 couldn’t really shake the fact it was based on the 80 and tipped the scales at 1600kg. As good as the RS2 was, it was unable to achieve universal acclaim from the motoring media of the day. Subsequent RS models from Audi, including the RS6, have certainly improved the breed. One thing the RS2 did do, though, was show the world that a niche market did exist for estate cars with supercar performance.
In fact, so strong was the performance of the RS2, when tested by UK publication Autocar it was revealed the Audi-Porsche lovechild could accelerate to 30mph in just 1.5 seconds. Amazingly, at the time, that was faster than both the McLaren F1 road car and Jacques Villeneuve’s Williams F1 car. The quattro system obviously did a great job of getting power through its wheels then!
The RS2 is one of my all-time favourite cars. This was the first car to show that estate cars can be cool. Very cool! I have now seen just three in my lifetime. One on the side of the road in the tiny village of Spa on my way into the 1996 Belgian Grand Prix. A not so standard one ready to take on the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife (above). And, now, one in my hometown of Canberra. Given no RS2s were officially imported to Australia, that was a real surprise I can tell you. The car was on show at the 2008 Shannons German Autofest and I took the opportunity of introducing myself to the owners Ross and Debra.
Their RS2, believed to be the only example in Australia, is in pretty good nick and it was pleasing to learn they have no plans to molest the car and will keep it in original specification. In keeping with this philosophy, and with just over 70,000kms, it won’t be used as a daily driver, but will still get a spirited run from time to time. I asked Ross a few other questions…
When did you buy the car and what condition was it in?
I purchased the car early 2008 and it was in very good condition inside and out with some minor blemishes to paint work.
Did the car come with a good history?
The car was originally purchased in NZ and then was personally imported into Australia. It was traded on a Porsche Turbo and the second owner purchased from Porsche Australia. I am now the third owner.
Are there any special routines needed to look after such a special car?
As with any collectable vehicle that you do not intend to use as a daily drive it still should be started, cleaned and checked over regularly.
When was your first RS2 moment, the moment you thought “I want one of those!”?
There wasn’t one really as I was actually looking for S2. I did not think there were any RS2s available in Australia, as they were never sold here. So I was extremely happy to find one.
Did driving the RS2 for the first time live up to your expectations?
The first time no, because it was different to drive. I realised after driving the RS2, in spite of its appearance as an Avant, it is actually a real sports car. It is fun to drive.
Does the RS2 attract a lot of attention, or do most people just think it is an old Audi estate?
When people stop and actually look at the car they need to have the history explained to them and then they realise it is special, but most drivers on the road just think it is a little blue wagon. But in Audi circles everyone appreciates it because it is the first of the Audi super cars.
What’s it like owning the only RS2 in Australia?
It is sensational. I love owning it and I love driving it!
Can I borrow the keys please?
Thanks very much to Ross and Debra for sharing their car with us, and thanks to Ross for answering my questions. I trust you’ve enjoyed reading more about Audi’s RS2, it truly is a unique car that has paved the way for a long line of successive models in Audi’s RS range.