Of all the carmakers out there, Porsche probably makes for one of the best one-night-stands – that is, if you’re not ready for commitment because we can see it as marriage material as well. The German sports car specialist has a lot of experience in making things go fast, both in a straight line and around corners.
Audi, on the other hand, was suffering a bit when it came to it. By 1994, which is when the RS2 Avant came about, Audi had stopped manufacturing the even more iconic Sport quattro model, which left a big hole in its lineup in the shape of a performance-driven car. However, instead of going down the usual path of making a quick roadster or a coupe, the Ingolstadt-based automaker opted for something a little more unconventional.
We take powerful station wagons for granted these days, but we would probably feel completely different if it wasn’t for the Audi Porsche RS2 Avant. What this thing is, basically, is an Audi 80 Avant (the station wagon produced at the time) with the company’s best available version (read “most powerful”) of its five-cylinder engine under its hood.
But that’s just the Audi part. What about Porsche? The Zuffenhausen specialist wasn’t going to take putting its name on a station wagon lightly, so it had to make sure it’s perfectly worthy of it. Bear in mind Porsche was fresh off ending the production of its 959 Turbo model at this time, so its reputation was flying pretty high. No point in messing that up for an obscure model that doesn’t even fully belong to the company in the first place.
Porsche could have pulled the plug on the project at any time if it thought it wouldn’t meet its standards, so the fact the RS2 Avant came out is proof that both companies felt it was a worthy representation of their capabilities. After we go over its specs and features, we’re pretty sure you will too. Let’s just put it this way: the NHTSA deemed the RS2 Avant not eligible for import in the U.S. because it thought the high-performance levels made it dangerous for public road safety.
That almost sounds comical when you hear about what lied under the RS2’s hood. It was a 2.2-liter five-cylinder turbocharged Audi unit, but the guys at Porsche had a go at it as well. With a much better understanding of how to get the most out of a turbocharged engine thanks to the 959 Turbo model, they managed to squeeze 311 hp (315 PS) and 302 lb-ft (410 Nm) of torque out of the straight-five plant.
Those were some meaty figures back then, and definitely not the kind you would expect to see on the specs sheet of a station wagon. Weighing in at just over 3,500 lbs (1,600 kg), the Audi RS2 Avant wasn’t exactly light by the standards of its era, but that didn’t keep it from delivering amazing performance.
That all came down to two things: Audi’s proprietary permanent all-wheel-drive quattro system and Porsche’s serious messing about with the vehicle’s suspension and braking systems. The RS2 sat lower (1.6 inches) than the regular wagon and if you looked through the 17″ wheels that were taken straight off a 964 Porsche 911 (and branded accordingly), you would see a set of red brake calipers that also said “Porsche” on them (they were, in fact, Brembos). And the wheels weren’t the only Porsche parts used without any attempt of hiding it – the side mirrors were borrowed from the 911 Turbo of that time as well.
You might say the RS2 looked a bit like an abomination – like the kind of build someone who prioritized function (which in this case would be increasing the performance) over form would make. Well, considering the wagon could accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.8 seconds and reach a limited top speed of 163 mph (262 km/h), you could say that function was successfully prioritized. However, not at the expense of form, since a lot of people will look at the RS2 Avant and find its boxy design quite appealing.
The success of the RS2 gave Audi the impetus to go on and make RS models a constant presence in its lineup and, we can probably all agree, it’s a good thing that it did. However, all this may not have happened if it weren’t for Porsche, which must be a nagging sensation for Audi. Still, it’s better this way than with no RS models at all, right?