Porsche designers added a front bumper with large air vents, a black radiator grille and aerodynamic 911-sourced door mirrors. RS emblems on both ends, red brake callipers and 17-inch Porsche alloy wheels mounted on low-profile tyres completed the external updates. Inside the cabin the sporty look was carried through, with electric Recaro bucket seats for the front passengers and an RS2-specific instrument cluster with white-faced gauges.
The RS2 could accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, and achieve a maximum speed of 262km/h, despite weighing over 1 600kg. In a road test conducted in 1995, British car magazine Autocar timed the RS2 from 0-30mph (48km/h) at just 1.5 seconds, faster than both the McLaren F1 road car and Jacques Villeneuve’s Formula One car of that time. To put the statistics into perspective, a 1994 Porsche 911 Carrera took 5.1 seconds to reach 62mph (100km/h) from a stop. These figures aren’t exactly jaw-dropping today but they were downright impressive in the mid-1990s. In spite of being pricey, the RS2 immediately sent shockwaves through the automotive world and it proved massively popular all over Europe. Audi initially announced just 2 200 examples would be built but demand was so strong that eventually a total of 2 891 RS2 Avants were manufactured by the time production ended in July 1995.
Although it was not widely exported outside of Europe, except for a few to Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand, the RS2 has an impressive cult following worldwide, and it is often regarded as being the vehicle that finally established Audi as a producer of practical high-performance vehicles: its sturdy station wagon body, enough room for the whole family – even space to take the dogs to the park, and Audi’s trademark quattro permanent 4-wheel-drive system as standard made it usable as a comfortable daily driver, even in poor weather conditions.
This is a car that despite its unexciting, slightly nerdy aesthetics and the fact that it is suitable to use as a soccer mom runabout, packs a sneaky punch and has that understated uber cool factor that might not be obvious at first glance – a bit like Superman in Clark Kent disguise. The Audi RS2 Avant, like the Mercedes 500E, possesses this X factor in spades. And this, together with their relative rarity and interesting bloodline, makes these two dubious heirs to the Porsche throne definite sleeper classics.