Early this month, the four-ringed firm announced a limited edition of 25 2021 Audi RS6 Avant “RS Tribute Editions” as an homage to the 1994 RS2.
Sure, for $109,000 the new car has 591 horsepower and can launch itself from zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds with its four-liter, twin-turbo V-8. But it, and every other high-performance Audi Avant, will forever be in the shadow of the O.G. RS2.
The RS2 was built to rival the rapid Mercedes-Benz AMG C36 wagon. Audi sought assistance from Porsche, which was still independent and had just finished assembling the mighty 500E for Mercedes. The RS2 Avant came together at the same plant, and Porsche’s involvement in the design and engineering of the Audi was even more significant.
Let’s start with the engine. The 2.2-liter, five-cylinder turbo was already established as Audi’s most potent offering, but in Porsche’s hands it became even more powerful. The KKK turbo was switched out for a 30 percent bigger one with 1.4 bar of boost, a larger intercooler, new camshaft, new injectors, intake system, low-pressure exhaust, and a modified ECU completed the mods.
Now with 315 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 302 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm, the RS2 had serious shove. The six-speed manual drove all four wheels through Audi’s quattro system and its Torsen center differential. With incredible traction off the line, the RS2 was proven by the U.K.’s Autocar to launch harder than a McLaren F1, reaching 30 mph from rest in just 1.5 seconds. Zero to 62 mph took 4.8 seconds and the RS2 maxed out at 162 mph. “It is a most extraordinary horizon-chaser,” the magazine said.
It wasn’t just about straight-line speed, though. The RS2 really handled on its Porsche-fettled suspension and 7.0 x 17-inch Porsche Cup wheels (as fitted to the 964 Turbo) shod with Dunlop tires. Braking was by uprated Brembo calipers, painted red and emblazoned with the Porsche name.
You would also find the Porsche signature on the unique front and rear badges and the keen eyed would spot the aerodynamic side mirrors shared with the 964 Turbo.
Recaro seats in leather or a leather/suede combo, and a unique three-spoke leather steering wheel were installed, and buyers could choose from wood or carbon-fiber trim. The RS2 was available in 13 hues, from subdued blacks to brash reds but always looked best in RS Blue Pearl (a.k.a. Nogaro blue).
Although I never drove one, I did cover 3,000 miles in its wake during the first Gumball 3000, chasing it all over Europe in a Caterham Seven. It enthralled me far more than the supercars and supermodels that also took part—although that’s a whole other story.
Priced new at an equivalent of almost $120,000 in today’s money, the RS2 was never sold in the United States. But as of 2019 you can import one yourself, as Audi hinted at in this excellent commercial. Expect to pay at least $64,000 plus the cost of importing.
If you do get hold of one you’ll be in good company. Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason had an RS2, as did Phil Collins, Derek Bell, and King Juan Carlos of Spain.
And if I can ever raise the funds, I’ll be joining you.