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The Audi RS2 Is the Coolest Wagon of Them All

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2016

These days, high-performance station wagons have become sort of commonplace -- a way for automakers to reach out to enthusiasts and tell them, "Yes. We understand your plight." In recent years, for example, there's been the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon. The Mercedes E55 and E63 AMG wagons. The Subaru WRX wagon. Various Audi S and RS wagons.

But 22 years ago, there was just one fast wagon. And it was the coolest of them all.

It was called the Audi RS2, and it was a high-performance wagon version of the Audi 80, a rather humdrum vehicle that people in Germany drove slowly to the supermarket, where they parked it neatly within the lines. The RS2, made in 1994 and 1995, was the exact opposite.

Here are the details: It had a 6-speed manual transmission back when only really-high-performance sports cars had 6-speed manual transmissions. It had all-wheel drive and a 2.2-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder that made 311 horsepower. It did 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds, and it could hit 163 mph. This meant that Audi was getting more power and better 0-to-60 acceleration than the Chevy Corvette ... with a station wagon. In 1994.

Interestingly, Audi wasn't solely responsible for all that performance. The RS2 was manufactured by Porsche, in Porsche's factory in Zuffenhausen -- the same place (though not the same building) where the 911 is built. At the time, Porsche was in dire financial straits, and the linkup with Audi helped keep the company afloat. Porsche had a similar relationship earlier in the 1990s with Mercedes, which resulted in the high-performance 500E sedan.

But the RS2 was more Porsche than the 500E. Not only was its performance more impressive, but the RS2 featured more Porsche-designed components, including the suspension and the braking system. In fact, every RS2 left the factory with Brembo brakes inscribed with the Porsche logo, along with mirrors and wheels borrowed directly from the 911. Porsche's logo also appeared in the RS2 emblem on the wagon's grille and tailgate.

The Audi RS2 is one of my all-time dream cars, and I'd absolutely love to own one. Unfortunately, U.S. regulations say I can't do it until it turns 25 -- which, for the earliest cars, will be spring of 2019. The problem: The RS2 has already gotten wildly expensive in Europe, with collectors starting to realize its valuable status. A nice one is easily $50,000 or more.

And that means the RS2 will probably always remain a dream for me, just as it was probably a dream for German kids -- sitting in the back of the family car, on a cold winter night, as an RS2 sped confidently past at 100 mph down the autobahn.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Audi RS2 Is the Coolest Wagon of Them All - Autotrader