Q-ships were innocent-looking merchantmen used to trap enemy submarines in two world wars. Their harmless appearance caused predatory subs to surface with a view to sinking defenceless quarry without wasting a precious torpedo, at which point the Q-ship’s hidden armament was revealed and the biter was bitten. The principle was pretty much the same when it came to the Audi RS2 Avant. Any boy racer who pulled alongside this solid estate car and decided to make it look silly when the lights went green would have been in for an awful surprise — the RS2 Avant could hit 30 mph (48 km/h) from a standing start faster than a contemporary Formula 1 Grand Prix car.
The RS2 Avant was the first Audi to bear the company’s limited-edition RS performance badge, and was a cooperative venture with Porsche using the 80 Avant as a platform. The engine was a turbocharged 2.2 litre Audi, which kicked out so much power that output had to be electronically limited by the time Porsche had finished modifying the motor. Porsche assembled the cars, though Audi supplied the running gear. Porsche also designed braking and suspension systems that were capable of handling the Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system, rapid acceleration and high top speed.
Indeed, whilst the RS2 looked like any old Audi estate car (apart from the RS2 badge with its inbuilt PORSCHE inscription that might have alerted those in the know), it had the performance of a high-end sports car with the interior of a luxurious estate car —and was actually capable of outperforming many a contemporary supercar. The initial production run for the Audi RS2 Avant was pencilled in at 2,200, but demand was so keen that around 2,900 of these wolves in sheep’s clothing were built.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1994 (until 1996)
2,226 cc Straight Five Turbo
Top speed of 163 mph (262 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.8 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The reason that there was no coupe version of the RS2 Avant was that co-producer Porsche considered it would be a direct (and formidable) competitor for Porsche’s own sports car range.