Cars

The Audi RS2 Avant: The Fast Wagon That Helped Save Porsche

Today, Porsche is an admired, successful automaker. But that wasn’t always the case. In the late 80s and early 90s, Porsche was struggling to stay afloat. Luckily, it was able to push through, and deliver highly-profitable vehicles like the Cayenne. That was thanks to partnering with and building cars for other automakers. One of those was Audi. And from the Porsche-Audi collaboration came an iconic piece of forbidden fruit. The first in a long line of fast wagons—from Audi and other brands—and high-performance RS models: the Audi RS2 Avant.

How Porsche and Audi developed the RS2 Avant

1985 Audi Ur-Quattro overhead
1985 Audi Ur-Quattro overhead | Bring a Trailer

As Hagerty explains, although Audi had made a significant impact with its original Quattro all-wheel-drive racer, the automaker wanted to compete directly with BMW’s M-cars. And Porsche, having invested heavily in developing the 959 supercar, was badly short on funds.

1986 Porsche 959
1986 Porsche 959 | Porsche

In creating the 959, and the 964-gen 911, Porsche had also developed experience with turbocharging and AWD, like Audi. So, Audi decided to partner with Porsche to develop a high-performance car. However, as Hagerty reports, allegedly Porsche didn’t want to work on a coupe. Porsche was worried such a car would compete too closely with its own 911.

Audi RS2 Avant
Audi RS2 Avant | Audi

Instead, Porsche insisted that Audi’s halo car be a wagon. Thus, in 1994, the Audi RS2 Avant, based on the Audi 80 wagon, made its debut.

What made the Audi RS2 Avant special?

Porsche didn’t just help engineer the Audi RS2 Avant, Autotrader explains. It built the wagon right next door to where the contemporary 911 was being built. Several 911 parts even ended up in the Audi RS2, like the wheels, mirrors, lights, and Brembo brakes. Porsche also worked on the RS2’s suspension, Road & Track reports, which included lowering the Audi 80 by about 1.6”.

Audi RS2 Avant cutaway
Audi RS2 Avant cutaway | Audi

The Quattro AWD system came from Audi, as did the 6-speed manual. The 2.2-liter turbocharged five-cylinder was also from Audi. However, Porsche engineers modified it, Jalopnik reports, fitting a larger turbo, radiator, intercooler, and fuel injectors. It also got a new camshaft, ECU, exhaust system, and even different catalytic converters.

The result was 315 hp and 310 lb-ft. That doesn’t sound like much today, but that was more than the contemporary Audi A8, Autoweek reports, which had a 4.2-liter V8. And it’s 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds was faster than the Lamborghini Countach, Drive Tribe reports.

But the Audi RS2 Avant could also handle well, too, Petrolicious reports. The standard Recaro seats helped keep you in place. And being a wagon, it was practical, as well, able to haul people and cargo.

Pricing and availability

The Audi RS2 Avant was only made in 1994 and 1995. Fewer than 3000 were made, and it was never sold in the US. However, thanks to the 25-year import rule, the fast wagon is now legal to freely import. Unfortunately, the car’s status means prices are rather high.

1994 Audi RS2 Avant
1994 Audi RS2 Avant | Bring a Trailer

Two 1994 Audi RS2 Avants have been sold on Bring a Trailer as of this writing. One in September 2019 for $65,000; the other in February 2020 for $55,000. And although fair-condition examples are valued at around $37k, the best-condition examples, Hagerty reports, are valued at $95,000.

Audi RS6 Avant
Audi RS6 Avant | Audi

That’s not too far off the upcoming Audi RS6 Avant’s asking price. And the RS6 is a faster, more modern, and more luxurious wagon. But it’s thanks to the Audi RS2 that the RS6 Avant exists at all.

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