The first true performance wagon, the Audi RS2, was built by a crack team of engineers at Porsche’s Zuffanhausen factory, the home of the legendary 959 supercars. Audi shipped Porsche the pedestrian “80 Avant” model which, would be transformed into a supercar slayer by Porsche. The resulting RS2 changed the way we view performance cars and set the scene for the practical performance cars we enjoy today.
When Audi unveiled a wagon that could outsprint sprint a Mclaren F1 to 30mph and match the performance of the 996 Porsche 911 it elevated the humble wagon into a true performance car. To create this supercar-rivaling wagon took a few key upgrades from the engineers over at Porsche who know a thing or two about building fast cars.
To start Porsche took Audi’s 2.2 liter inline five cylinder engine which, proved to be a stout performance platform after numerous successful years of Group B Rally development, and completely redid it. Porsche replaced the stock turbocharger for a larger unit to provide more boost and greater peak power. Then they replaced the ancillary systems fitting a larger intercooler, free flowing exhaust, and larger camshaft to provide even more reliable power. All of these key upgrades helped the RS2 produce 311 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque, taking this pedestrian hatchback into the realm of supercars.
The RS2 wasn’t just a simple wagon with a powerful engine, Porsche spent a great deal of time tuning the chassis to take advantage of this newfound grunt. The RS2 sent its power to the ground exclusively through a 6-speed manual gearbox and Audi’s legendary Quattro system. The manual transmission kept the driver involved while Quattro easily put down the power down aiding in the spectacular acceleration.
Audi wasn’t shy about their connection with Porsche using numerous exterior cues to display this car’s ability. The RS2 used the same wing mirrors as a 911 and had a red stripe across the rear hatch to match the contemporary 911. There is even a Porsche badge on the rear hatch and inscription in the head of the inline 5 cylinders the proudly displays the Porsche name. To complete the look of the RS2 Porsche used cup alloy wheels to fit over the massive Porsche badged Brembo brakes needed to match its newfound performance.
During the short one-year production run from 1994-1995, only 2,800 examples were produced making this a very difficult car to find today. Of the remaining examples, many have been tuned within an inch of their life or understeered into a tree making pristine examples difficult to find. If you do happen to find a good example be prepared to pay as the going rate is over $50,000 and climbing as this classic continues to appreciate.
Thanks to the help from Porsche, Audi was able to create to world’s first super wagon and lay out the blueprints for their future high-performance RS line. The RS2 is the genesis of all future high-performance Audi’s and proved that performance can easily work with a practical platform. The RS2 shamed sports cars from the day and still offers respectable performance 21 years later. This groundbreaking car elevated the humble wagon into the realm of supercars and proved that fast cars didnt have to sacrifice practicality.