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Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

The five-door rock stars of the road.

Les Bidrawn
Sep 14, 2010

Why does KFC chicken taste so good? Why do women freak when the toilet seat is up? Why aren't Audi Avants popular in the United States?

Epcp_1010_01_o+avant+group Photo 2/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

I consider the aforementioned questions great mysteries.

While I don't lose sleep over the first two, the Avant issue is maddening. Here is a car that has everything going for it: outstanding performance, sexy lines, and room for tons of stuff.

While logic would dictate a winning formula, the U.S. automotive market doesn't always behave with reason. The truth is Audi wagons (Avants) don't sell for shit in America. We think that's a damn shame.

The flipside is Avants are something of a rarity, a fact that makes them all the more desirable to enthusiasts. The trio here combine amazing performance with singular styling, a winning formula in our book, er, magazine.


When Tony Little, owner of this Speed Yellow RS4 clone, isn't managing GMG's IT infrastructure, he's pedaling a road bike. Although Tony considers himself a "semi-professional cyclist," his Audi is something pro-racer Hans Stuck would be happy to hammer.

Epcp_1010_02_o+avant+audi_s4 Photo 3/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

When S4s sleep, they dream about being RS4s. This car got its wish with the factory's all-steel RS4 body conversion. Audi has just announced it has ceased producing these parts so prices for these panels will undoubtedly rise.

GMG has equipped this car with its World Challenge (WC) tuning program. Utilizing technology proven during GMG's extensive race experience, it kneads a big chunk of high performance into the dough.

The engine includes AWE's "Big Turbo" system augmented with GIAC software and GMG's WC sport exhaust. It leaves the 3,400-pound chassis with gobs of low-end torque-at 2100 rpm there's some 480 lb-ft of twist. It's hard to believe all that comes from a V6 with a mere 2.7 liters of displacement. Like most Quattro-equipped cars, this Avant squats slightly under hard acceleration while all four corners argue over traction. Around 6400 rpm it tends to run out of breath, but simply snatching a higher gear places it back into its hugely entertaining powerband. To ensure all this grunt is properly distributed, the Avant was equipped with a Sachs Motorsport clutch and Stasis center differential upgrade. GMG added in its lightweight aluminum flywheel with 034 transmission mounts and a JHM short shift kit.

Epcp_1010_03_o+avant+v6_engine Photo 4/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Another facet of GMG's WC program addresses the suspension, an area in which GMG has had great success. The underpinnings include Ohlins Motorsport dampers, Eibach ERS springs and larger H-Sport sway bars. The BBS wheels are forged from magnesium, just like the Champion Motorsport World Challenge S4s, and GMG corner balanced the Audi and gave it a precision alignment. The resulting ride is an outstanding blend of firmness and compliancy excellent for daily driven performance. Add the stopping power of Stoptech's gigantic brakes and you've got significantly more car than an RS4 ever was.

2002 Audi S4 avant

Epcp_1010_04_o+avant+alloy_wheels Photo 5/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

2.7-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve, twin-turbocharged. AWE K04 turbo and fueling kit, Evolution Racewerks intercoolers with carbon ducts, GMG WC turbo-back downpipes and exhaust, GIAC software

Six-speed manual, AWE transmission stabilizer and 034 mounts, Sachs clutch with GMG aluminum flywheel, Stasis center diff, JHM short-shift kit

Eibach ERS springs, Ohlins Motorsport dampers, H-Sport antiroll bars, adjustable upper arms, GMG corner balance and alignment

Stoptech big brakes, six-piston calipers with 15-inch rotors (f), four-piston calipers with 14-inch rotors (r)

Epcp_1010_05_o+avant+side_view Photo 6/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Wheels and Tires
BBS Motorsport forged magnesium, 18-inch Toyo R888

OEM RS4 panels, GMG carbon front fenders, Porsche Speed Yellow paint


Peak Power: 550 hp @ 6900 rpm
Peak Torque: 520 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
*GMG Racing data

RS4 Avant

Epcp_1010_06_o+avant+side_view Photo 7/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

If the snowboarding fraternity should ever choose a patron saint, chances are it would be Todd Richards. As a member of snowboarding's first clan, he was largely responsible for bringing the sport into the mainstream. Between managing his O-Matic snowboard brand, you will find Richards hosting the X games, Olympics, and other pro snowboarding venues with unbridaled enthusiasm.

Did we also mention the guy is an Audi fanatic? One could argue that's simply a by-product of living in snowy Colorado for half the year, a place AWD cars are actually needed. But does one really need a 550-hp RS4, a car so rare there are a only five federalized examples living in the entire country? Probably not, but that's the only way he would have it.

We featured one of Richards' Avant's last year and while it was a gorgeous example of the breed, his current ride is breathtaking. There's little doubt that Todd's RS4 is the fastest of the bunch thanks to the Cosworth-built engine, higher rev limit and even greater power band. It also seems that have the most solid chassis. Quattro GMBH claims the RS cars have additional reinforcements and the sheet metal unibody uses more welds for a stronger, tighter structure.

Epcp_1010_08_o+avant+wheels Photo 8/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

I had wanted to test the RS4 since the first spy pics trickled though the web. Here's a car built exclusively by Audi's Quattro GmbH hotrod division. What's it like to drive this RS4? It's freaking fast for starters. Firewall it and the car launches itself as though fitted with JATO rockets. The 19-inch BBS CH wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber shudder a bit as the power is transferred from the Sachs clutch, through the modded gearbox, and finally to the road. From the driver's seat it's hard to tell it's a wagon and the beautifully appointed cabin feels more like a high performance coupe. The ride is firm yet compliant and the car feels much lighter than it really is.

The car also does very well on the twisty stuff. Despite its 3,850 pounds it goes around corners at speeds that would scare even some advanced drivers. So I'm really glad this car has the Alcon/Stasis 14-inch front brakes. I've made them so hot a small fire erupts as I brush by some knee-high weeds during a U-turn. The Ohlins dampers and Eibach springs play off each other beautifully. And while it appears the system is a "track" setup it's absolutely fine for street use.

Epcp_1010_09_o+avant+rs4_interior Photo 9/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

I keep looking behind me, marveling at all the room back there. I can't help thinking again how it boggles the mind that this is a wagon-or station wagon as we used to call them in the old days.

Time changes fast.

2002 Audi RS4 Avant

Epcp_1010_10_o+avant+rs4_badge Photo 10/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

2.7-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve, twin-turbocharged. Evolution Racewerks intercoolers, custom downpipes and sport exhaust, GIAC software

Six-speed manual, Sachs sport clutch, center diff upgrade

Eibach ERS springs, Ohlins Motorsport dampers

Alcon/Stasis assemblies with four-piston calipers (f), OEM RS4 assemblies with full floating rotors (r)

Epcp_1010_07_o+avant+audi_rs4 Photo 11/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Wheels and Tires
BBS CH, 10x19
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2


Peak Power: 550 hp @ 7300 rpm
Peak Torque: 550 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
GMG Racing data

RS2 Avant

Epcp_1010_11_o+avant+audi_rs2 Photo 12/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

During a brief period of automotive free love, Porsche and Audi spawned a genetically superior child with super powers. That child was the RS2, a car that quite possibly holds the title of "World's Hottest Sportwagen."

We in the United States were forced to worship the RS2 from afar as it was never offered to North America. What a shame.

Based on the Audi 80 Avant, the RS2 contained much of Audi's cutting-edge technology including its vaunted Quattro AWD system and turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Porsche stepped in and assembled the RS2 in its Zuffenhausen facility where it fully massaged the engine with a bigger turbo and intercooler and enlarging the brake system. Like the Mercedes 500E that preceeded it, the RS2 was destined to become an instant classic. And with a mere 2891 example produced, they are rare as red diamonds.

This particular car belongs to Benjamin Abraham, the head honcho at PPI Design in Germany. It was sent to GMG for refurbishment after sitting in DOT limbo for two years awaiting certification.

"We completed a mini restoration of the car," says GMG's Fabryce Kutyba. "We replaced all the suspension components, performed a cooling system upgrade, replaced seals and gaskets in and around the engine, refurbished the brakes, and replaced hardware throughout the car.

Epcp_1010_12_o+avant+rear_view Photo 13/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

"Although it had only 14k original kilometers on it, European winters are not very friendly to cars, so we went through the entire thing again and replaced all the rubber, mounts, gaskets, and so on, making sure it was 100 percent ready to go."

Whereas most people would be totally content with a "stock" RS2, both PPI and GMG (the official conversion facility for PPI) considered it merely a good starting point. The engine has been highly modded with PPI's custom turbocharger and intercooler and uprated injectors. The engine internals have been balanced and blueprinted and all the manifolds and intakes received porting and polishing. In its daily-driven mode this RS2 is producing some 520 hp while a higher boost setting (with 100 octane) nets nearly 600 hp.

You know that smooth and linear powerband of newer turbochaged Audis, the kind of thrust that leaves you wondering if there's a big block under the hood? The RS2 is nothing like that. Nothing really happens until the tach tickles 4000 rpm. In the old days this was known as "turbo lag." And when this beast wakes up, you'd best be ready for it. "Explosive" best describes its accelerative properties.

Epcp_1010_13_o+avant+rs2_interior Photo 14/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

The RS2 requires considerable driver skill to master, "heel-and-toe" kind of stuff. It's sort of funny if you think about it, a car requiring actual talent, especially if you consider the majority of new drivers don't even know what a manual transmission is, let alone how to work it.

But say you manage to keep the engine on the boil, get that wastegate working overtime. Few cars are as rewarding as the RS2. There's a fantastic mechanical feel to this Audi, a pure unfiltered savagery. The harder you drive it, the better it becomes. Ultimately that leaves this Audi with a fairly narrow performance window-but a window with an awesome view.

1994 Audi RS2 Avant

Epcp_1010_14_o+avant+rs2_front Photo 15/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

2.2-liter I5, sohc, 20-valve, turbocharged. Blueprinted and balanced internals, ported intake manifold and exhaust outlets, custom PPI turbo and intercooler system, custom injectors, Audi Sport Quattro intake

Five-speed manual, Sachs clutch, modified front and rear differentials (rear 70% LSD)

KW/PPI coilovers, custom antiroll bars

OEM Porsche 993 Turbo "Big Red" assemblies

Epcp_1010_15_o+avant+rs2_engine Photo 16/16   |   Audi S4, RS4, and RS2 Avant - Avant Guard

Wheels and Tires
Porsche Cup alloys, 17-inch
Dunlop SP Sport 8080E, 245/40

Custom hood duct to intake

Recaro sport seats


Peak Power: 575+ hp** @ 7800 rpm
Peak Torque: 490 lb-ft @ 5700 rpm
*GMG Racing data
**100 octane "level 3" mode


GMG Racing
Santa Ana, CA 92704
By Les Bidrawn
242 Articles



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