A rare RS2, and rarer still in RHD – and with a great origin story, too
By John Howell / Thursday, 12 January 2023 / Loading comments
£60,000 for a 29-year-old Audi wagon? Crazy money. Except, not when it says RS2 on the back and comes with a set of Porsche Cup alloys. And it’s a right-hooker, which means it’s even rarer, because of the 2,900 RS2s that were eventually built between 1994 and 1995, just 180 had the steering wheel on the right side. If you’re reading this in a left-hand-drive market, you can read that statement any way you wish, and you won’t be wrong.
Anyway, cheap jibes aside, this is a genuinely special car. Of course it is, being the very first Audi RS model, the genesis of the fast wagon, and a bona fide cult classic. Internally, the RS2 was known as the P1 – long before the P1 was a twinkle in McLaren Automotive’s eye – and that’s because the P stood for Porsche. The reason for that is down to resources and a man with a vision.
In the early ’90s, Audi’s development engineers were a busy bunch, working flat out producing not one but several new model ranges, including the A4, A6 and A8. Big cars, metaphorically speaking in the case of the A4, and literally when it came to the A8, but all crucial to Audi’s projected bottom line. But that man was in charge of Audi at the time the RS2 programme was started. You know who: the man who dreamed big, coming up with ideas like the Bugatti Veyron, and dreamed the impossible as far as his engineers were concerned, with ideas like the Bugatti Veyron. Yes, we’re talking about Ferdinand Piëch.
Indeed, it was one of Piëch’s grand dreams that was the cause of the engineers’ workload. That dream was taking Audi from definite third place in the German premium triumvirate rankings to the undisputed equal of BMW and Mercedes. He made that dream come true as well. Yet even Piëch, it seems, knew where to draw the line. That’s why he asked Porsche for help with the P1 project, which was his latest brainwave to make real.
He knew the guys in Stuttgart well enough to do so, of course. After all, being the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche tends to open doors, and he’d worked for the company between 1963 and 1971. No doubt he was also aware that Porsche, which was still cash-strapped at this point and touting its engineering services to the highest bidders, had just completed its contract to build the Mercedes-Benz 500E. Another little side hustle would be a useful boost to its kitty.
The manufacture of the RS2 was handled at the manufacturer’s Rossle-Bau plant in Zuffenhausen, and Porsche was also involved in modifying the engine and Audi’s B4 platform. The Audi 2.2 20-valve five-cylinder was given a larger turbo and intercooler, a freer breathing induction and exhaust system, higher-flow injectors and racier camshafts. Bosch also developed an uprated electronic brain to manage it all as effectively as possible, and with 315hp it was brisk. Brisk, as in 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds brisk. That remarkable time (for the time) was helped by a six-speed manual and, naturally, quattro four-wheel drive. It’s said that the RS2 would beat even the mighty McLaren F1 from rest to 30mph. It also bested all contemporary 911s, bar the Turbo.
Porsche delivered a redesigned suspension and braking package to match the performance demands of the RS2, and that’s why you’ll find its logos on the red, four-pot calipers. It’s also the reason for the Porsche 17-inch Cup wheels, which were needed to fit over the brakes. It was a complete overhaul, then, and that’s why it created such a storm when it was launched.
In reality, the RS2’s driving experience probably won’t match its technical blueprint and Porsche input. By all accounts, it’s a bit so-so in that department. And laggy, although a bit of old-school boostiness can be charming and exciting in equal measure. Yet that doesn’t matter now, does it? Not when it’s a real piece of history – the original fast estate, the original Audi RS – and, just as importantly, a bloody good-looking car.
Specification | Audi RS2
Engine: 2,226cc, five-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 315 @ 6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 302 @ 3,000rpm
Recorded mileage: 91,000
Year registered: 1995
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £59,900
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