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Launch King: The Audi RS2 Avant

November 6, 2011 by Matt

Audi RS2 Avant Wagon Blue RS 2

Even after they made the switch to shorter V6s and I4s in the mid-late ’90s, the cylinder configuration that’s always been most closely associated with Audi is the inline-5. There’s good reason for it: In spite of the fact that later engines like the B5 RS4‘s 2.7l twin-turbo (among others) have touted higher hp numbers, none have ever really had the character, the distinctive rasp of the old Audi I5.

In the 15 years or so the automaker manufactured the straight-5 layout, Audi offered the engine in a progression of flavors, from a 10-valve, naturally-aspirated SOHC engine mated to a FWD transaxle to the engine in the car featured in this post: The 20-valve, violently-turbocharged DOHC warp drive under the hood of the ’94-’95 Audi RS2 Avant:

Audi RS2 Avant Wagon Engine Bay ADU

Generally considered the ultimate factory incarnation, the pinnacle of Audi’s development of their I5, the RS2’s powerplant (engine code ADU) was at its core a standard Audi 2.2l 20-valve turbo engine shipped off to Porsche, whose engineers basically had their way with it. They replaced the turbocharger, camshafts, fuel injectors, intercooler, intake and exhaust systems with upgraded pieces and reprofiled the engine management. The result was a high-for-the-day 315 hp—with the potential for much, much more—channeled through a 6-speed gearbox. Porsche tuned the rest of the car as well; the suspension, brakes and wheels were all bits from Stuttgart. The outcome? One of the all-time q-ships, a supercar in the guise of a family station wagon.

Needless to say, I lust after this car. It encapsulates everything unique about its manufacturer, from their signature inline-5 and the decision to offer only a wagon body style to the way it puts the power down through Audi’s quattro AWD system. If all that (excepting the inline-5) seems commonplace nowadays, we have Audi to thank for it. Nobody made fire-breathing rocket-sled wagons in the mid-’90s, and the Ingolstadt automaker’s distinctive performance formula made other marques sit up and take notice.

The RS2’s party trick, even through it’s obviously hard on the driveline, is its savage acceleration from a dig, courtesy of the quattro AWD. The listed 0-30 time is a face-deforming 1.5 seconds, with 60 coming 3.3 seconds later. The g-force creation in the clip after the jump below rivals many present-day supercars—and this from a mid-’90s wagon!

Filed under: Audi


  1. Joel S. says:

    Wow! Can we go in on one together? And were these imported? I see a conversion on eBay. Incredible car.

    • Matt says:

      Sure! Just let me go get my share of the $40K or so from between the mattresses… :)

      Nope, sadly never imported. Audi has a bad habit of keeping their best iron in Europe: the RS2, its immediate predecessor the S2 (only offered in coupe form), the Sport Quattro, the B5 RS4 Avant and the C5 RS6 Avant, among others… :(

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