Why you’d want an Audi RS2 Avant
The first of the RS series and the fastest-ever Audi road car at its introduction (more powerful even than the Sport quattro), the RS2 was a typically mould-breaking creation promoted by Ferdinand Piëch shortly before he left Audi to head up the VW Group.
Autocar headlined its test with the fact that the RS2 out-accelerated the McLaren F1 from 0-30mph.
A bizarre combination of supercar and five-door estate, the Audi RS2 Avant appealed to well-heeled enthusiasts of all ages with families, goods or dogs to transport.
Demand has always massively exceeded supply, making the RS2 a much-coveted car that has held its value well and is now rising strongly.
The engine, gearbox, brakes and suspension were comprehensively upgraded by Porsche, which added 911 parts including the fuel pump, door mirrors, sidelights and front indicators, plus 968 Club Sport brakes and 17in Cup wheels.
The extensive engine modifications included a larger turbo running 1.4bar instead of the S2ʼs 1.1, high-lift camshafts, upgraded air filter, intercooler and injectors, and a low-pressure exhaust manifold and catalyst, all controlled by uprated Bosch electronic engine management with a new map.
The bodykit was tweaked to give the airflow needed with a suitably sporting, mildly aggressive look: three big bumper air intakes for the radiator and brakes. Uniquely, the car was badged both Audi and Porsche.
The ride height was 40mm lower than an Audi 80 Avantʼs, and many cars (including the one pictured) have been lowered further.
Options included uprated brakes, a sunroof (standard on RHD cars), heated seats, full black Nappa leather (instead of silver or blue Alcantara inserts), carbonfibre or wood dash/door fillets, roof rails and climate control.
The plan was to build 2200 cars, but demand was so strong that 2891 were made. RS2s were sold mainly in Europe, but also exported to Brazil.
Just 180 were right-hand drive, shared between the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa. Four RS2 saloons were also built.
Images: James Mann
Audi RS2 Avant: what to look for
Please see above for what to look for before you check out any Audi RS2 Avant classic car for sale.
The engine is immensely strong and plenty of Audi RS2 Avants have topped 150,000 miles, despite the high state of tune.
Obviously increasing the stresses on the unit by boosting power will have an impact on engine life, but it’s not easily broken.
Make the usual checks for oil leaks, knocks and heavy breathing.
The turbo is generally durable, but the wastegate can fail, causing stuttering performance. If accompanied by dark smoke, it may just be the MAF sensor.
Wheels and brakes
Check the Porsche wheels and brakes are in good order.
Infrequent use can lead to calipers seizing and corrosion affecting the discs, especially the rears.
Check the synchros, especially second, and gear selection: first can be damaged by too many racing starts.
Also ensure the clutch isn’t slipping or biting high.
Recaro seats and Kevlar or wood trim were specific to Audi RS2 Avants, as were many of the plastic components.
Check the window regulators and the condition of the leather.
Audi RS2 Avant: before you buy
The biggest criticism of the Audi RS2 Avant in normal driving was its turbo lag and vicious power delivery when the turbo spooled up above 3000rpm: it could make overtaking tricky, especially in the lower gears, though it became addictive with experience.
The engines and turbos are durable, though the wastegate can fail, sapping performance, and the MAF sensor can give up, causing dark smoke and misfiring. A failing fuel pump can also hurt performance under load.
In spite of the huge pace offered as standard, some cars have been further uprated, with options including bigger turbochargers, intercoolers, exhausts and ECUs.
The gearchange has quite a clunky action: check for worn synchros, especially crunching when changing down to second.
If gear selection is difficult, wear in the linkage should be easily fixed. Check the rear diff lock works (but donʼt use it too much on Tarmac).
Most cars have had suspension tweaks as they have moved from being new cars used for high-performance-estate duties, to enthusiast cars where handling is more important than ride comfort.
On standard suspension roll was quite pronounced, though the car would still corner impressively quickly. Lower suspension conversions are widely offered by H&R, Bilstein and others.
The original Dunlop SP Sport 8000 245/40ZR17s are no longer available and many cars are now on 235 or 225 tyres – though there are various options in the correct size, including Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2s.
Audi RS2 Avant price guide
- Show: £80,000*
- Average: £50,000*
- Restoration: £27,000*
*Prices correct at date of original publication
Audi RS2 Avant history
1994 Mar RS2 Avant launched at the Geneva Salon
1994 Oct Right-hand-drive cars go on sale in the UK
1995 Jul Production ends
The owner’s view
Chris Day bought his Audi RS2 Avant four years ago. “I was rebuilding my Ur-quattro,” he recalls, “and wanted a five-cylinder car I could jump in and drive, put the kids in and leave in places I couldn’t risk parking my Shelby Mustang.
“I was very lucky – this car was only two miles away and the previous owner had been meticulous with maintenance. It’s done 16 7,000 miles but you would never know; only the door cards have been replaced.
“It’s been mildly chipped – I’ve seen 165mph on the autobahn – but it’s just so versatile: I drove it to Rétromobile with a monument in the back!
“The diff lock is only really for wet fields – it locks up and fights round corners on the road.
“This car was used for the game Gran Turismo, including getting the correct engine noises.
“It was a bit wallowy at full height: it’s lowered about 30mm and feels more planted now. The only other mod is a Milltek Sport tailpipe.”
VOLVO 850 T-5R
Porsche also had a hand in creating the turbocharged 243bhp T-5R saloon and estate, capable of 0-60mph in 6.5 secs (7.4 for the auto). It became the 850R for 1996, with 250bhp.
Sold 1995-’96 • No. built 6964 • Price now £10-25,000*
BMW M5 TOURING
With its 3.8-litre, 24-valve ‘six’ and 340bhp, the BMW M5 Touring reached 60mph in 5.9 secs. From 1994 it had six gears and a new brake compound behind 18in wheels. Collectible, but beware rust.
Sold 1992-’95 • No. built 891 • Price now £25-125,000*
*Prices correct at date of original publication
Audi RS2 Avant: the Classic & Sports Car verdict
The Audi RS2 Avant is a very appealing package but it is not a cheap one to buy or run, so check very carefully that the car you’re viewing hasn’t been crashed or neglected, and hasn’t been modified to the point where it ceases to offer the perfect combination of supercar-beating performance and practical usability that Audi intended.
Modifications don’t often add value, so be sure they suit your needs before buying an uprated RS2.
- Bodyshells are not prone to rust
- Engines are extremely durable
- Build quality was exceptionally high
- The RS2 is not just hugely fast, but also very usable and practical
- RS2-specific parts can be hard to find
- Many cars have done stratospheric mileages
- Service intervals aren’t always followed
Audi RS2 Avant specifications
- Sold/number built 1994-’95/2891
- Construction steel monocoque
- Engine iron-block, alloy-head, dohc 2226cc 20v ‘five’, with KKK turbocharger and Bosch electronic fuel injection
- Max power 315bhp @ 6500rpm
- Max torque 302lb ft @ 3000rpm
- Transmission six-speed manual, 4WD via Torsen quattro with manually switchable electro-hydraulic rear differential lock
- Suspension independent, at front by MacPherson struts rear double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers; anti-roll bar f/r
- Steering power-assisted rack and pinion, with 2.6 turns lock-lock
- Brakes power-assisted 12in (304mm) front, 11¾in (299mm) rear vented discs, with four-pot calipers, servo and anti-lock (optional 322/299mm cross-drilled discs)
- Length 14ft 9in (4496mm)
- Width 5ft 7in (1702mm)
- Height 4ft 7in (1397mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 6in (2591mm)
- Weight 3509lb (1595kg)
- 0-60mph 4.8 secs
- Top speed 166mph
- Mpg 18-26
- Price new £45,705 (1994)