The Good Oil: Audi RS, Porsche and 'electric' performance
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The forthcoming RS e-tron GT stirs up the Audi Sport brand for a number of reasons. It’s the first pure-electric car from a division that you would have thought was dedicated to using the last drop of fossil fuel available before even considering any alternatives.
And of course the GT is as much Porsche as it is Audi, given that the platform and powertrain are borrowed from the Taycan.
Scoff if you must, but consider this. While you could reasonably accuse Audi Sport/RS of having long periods of being a bit dull, confounding expectations and getting Porsche in to do the cool bits is actually at the core of the brand.
The very first RS road car was the RS2 Avant of 1994. While fast wagons are synonymous with RS these days, back then the whole concept was a bit of a jaw-dropper. So to ensure it dropped jaws in the best possible way, Audi got Porsche on board as a partner. Inside the company, the designation for the project was “P1”. The P stood for… you get it.
The RS2 was based on the humble 80 Avant, but re-engineered and built by Porsche at its Rossle-Bau plant in Zuffenhausen, Germany (formerly used for the Mercedes-Benz 500E and earlier, the Porsche 959).
It boasted a Porsche-fettled 232kW version of Audi’s 2.2-litre five-cylinder turbo engine, six-speed manual transmission and rode 40mm lower than a cooking 80, with Porsche Cup 17-inch wheels and Brembo brakes with Porsche branding.
Performance was electric (not literally): British magazine Autocar reckoned it was faster to 30mph (50km/h, give or take) than a McLaren F1.
The side mirrors were straight from the Porsche 964 Turbo. And there was low-key “Porsche” badging on the tailgate. Cool.
The RS2 Avant has cult following these days, partly because it’s rare (2891 cars built, only 180 in right-hand drive) but mostly because it’s awesome.