The RS2 was driven in the 1st car magazine i ever owned as a kid, which was the April 1994 edition of Complete car magazine. I instantly feel in love with the oddity of what Audi had created. Audi engineers maybe bored or something, picked up the phone and called their german neighbours over at Porsche letting them know that they would like to collaborate with them in making a high performance car. What these guys came up with was a 315BHP, 2.2L, 5cylinder turbocharged estate based on the bug standard Audi 80 estate.
Developed by Audi but manufactured by Porsche the RS2 had Porsche brakes and Porsche developed suspension, Porsche 968 wheels, paint and side mirrors so as a result, the RS2 actually wears the Porsche name underneath the RS logo.
The RS2 could get to 60mph in 4.8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 162 MPH. Those figures are pretty fast even when lined up with performance cars of today but 18 years ago, it was an absolute beast. Very few cars could touch it in terms of acceleration. Autocar magazine back then, recorded a 0-30 mph time of 1.5 seconds and that was a time that even the McLaren F1 (once fastest car in the world) could not achieve. Do you now understand how fast this car was at the time?
Never had there been an estate car with such levels of performance and the thought of a concept like the RS2 blew me away and cemented my love for the German car maker. Audi went on to make just over 2,200 examples between 1994 and 1996. And to this day, the RS2 stands amongst their most iconic cars ever.
To my delight I actually came across a mint looking 1995 Audi RS2 on a recent visit to the gym. It was parked close to Queens park station. As expected, seeing the car brought out the inner child in me again. It stood there, in a very demure nature, clad in that striking Porsche 968 paint job but looking like it was always ready to pounce on any performance car that would venture to challenge it.
Just looking at the RS2 alone, it is a very good looking car that has aged beautifully. The stance and proportions all looked right through the front overhang is massive but that strangely adds to the appeal.
I actually got to speak to the owner of the car for a minute. He had owned it for close to two years and had never experienced problems with it. He considers it one of the most characterful and enjoyable cars he had ever owned. He seemed like a nice guy and I could have stood there talking about the car even more with him but at the risk of sounding like a nutter, I had to get on with my journey. Not only is an RS2 a cool car, it is driven by cool people. Only regret is that I did not carry my camera so did not take any picture. I wish I did take pictures because I had no idea I was going to write an article about it today. Lesson learned.
This now leads me to the new 2012 Audi RS4 Avant that was unveiled last month. I have always looked forward to Audi RS unveilings but when I saw the new RS4, I was left feeling pretty underwhelmed.
Technically, it is very good with a 4.2 V8 engine from the RS5 producing 444BHP and with a lot of electronic trickery tied to the Quattro system but it still feels cold. The RS2 was not a great handling car and the RS4 won’t beat an M3 either, so what could it be that I did not like? After my encounter with the RS2 today, I think I know why.
When the RS2 launched, it was alone in its field and the first true supercar slaying estate. Today we got loads of high performance estates from the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Simply throwing in a mighty engine into a standard A4 shell with a few enhancements is just not the recipe for something great anymore.
Won't it have been amazing if the 2012 RS4 Avant was developed by Porsche? Audi can stroll over to Porsche and ask them. They don't even have to be polite because Audi is the top auto maker in the VW group which Porsche is now part of. For it to stand-out from the AMG Mercs out there, it needs to be truly special so let’s allow our imagination run wild a bit.
Carbonfibre tech could be borrowed from Lamborghini for the front fenders and roof to reduce weight. Power could come from a 400BHP + version of the 5 cylinder engine from the TT-RS or if they even dare, why not strap on a turbocharger to the Cayman R’s 330hp, 3.4liter engine and stick it into the RS4 to make something unique. Well over 400hp can be achieved and while it will be short on torque, it will be way more than the 317 lb/ft available on the new RS4.
The only problem with this arrangement is that the engine may just not fit. Porsche’s Cayman/911/Boxster cars use horizontally opposed flat-six engines meanwhile; Audi's traditionally follow a transverse engine formula. I am no engineer but I am sure that the smart guys at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and Ingolstadt can make it work but it may be better to stick to the 5-cylinder unit on cost grounds.
What other bits can they use? Transmission will be Audi's S-tronic DSG gearbox. Porsche then gets to fettle with the suspension, and give it the £2,780, 20-inch sport Techno wheels as standard from the 2012 Boxster. Stick on some 911 side mirrors and Oh; let’s not forget the £5,000 Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) brake. From reviews, the brakes are fantastic. All that’s left is a new RS/Porsche badge attached to the back; give it a limited production run of 3,000 units and what you will get is a de-restricted 180MPH, 0-60 mph in 4.0 sec, modern day RS icon.
Audi, you have no iconic product at the moment. The RS5 has failed to live up to the legacy that the last generation B7 RS4 set, so my vision of a new RS4 could well be it. Make it happen Audi, you damn well know it will be a winner.