Before Audi followers rejoiced to the roar of the 420hp 4.2 liter V8 in the B7 RS4 and the quick-spooling 380hp 2.7 liter twin-turbo B5 RS4, there was the RS2 Avant - the originator and grandfather of the RS family.
RS stands for Rennsport, which is translated, to race sport or motorsport in English. And it was used to highlight Audi's line of automobiles marketed to be the best, with almost supercar levels of performance.
The RS2 was sold between '94-96, when only 2891 units were produced, although North America never saw its grandeur. It was a joint collaboration with Porsche who took the 80 Avant quattro and breathed new life into it with a six-speed gearbox, 17" wheels, front bumpers, 993 mirrors, brakes from a 928 and stiffer suspension. The engine was Audi S2's 2.2 liter 20v five-cylinder but Porsche added an arsenal of weapons including its own injectors, bigger turbo, airbox, engine management and manifolds. In the end, the RS2 Avant was born with the company's most powerful five-cylinder turbo, pushing 315hp and 302 lb-ft. For its time, no other wagon or sedan in production could stand against the mighty Audi RS2.
The limited-edition wagon was a true legend, especially because of its rarity and the partnership between Audi and Porsche. In fact, inspiration from the RS2 still lives on today in the multitude of RS and Porsche parts fitted to many VW and Audi projects, even the RS-style spoiler kits were based on the RS2's styling. This car really started its own tuning trend.
So now you know a little about the RS2, we're ecstatic to have an exclusive look at this modified ice-monster from Finland.
Joni Meriläinen was your everyday Audi fanatic who, after his close friend built an S2, wanted to out-do him. So the hunt was on for an RS2. "I knew an importer with German contacts who was able to track down a Nogaro blue '95 RS2. It was owned by a woman who wouldn't let potential buyers even touch the car unless she saw cash in front of her eyes," Joni told us.
He didn't have time to waste so bought the used RS2 with 77672 miles on the odometer without even seeing or driving it.
When the car arrived in Finland, Joni first lowered it with Weitec suspension and swapped the famous five-spoke 17" wheels to bigger TSWs.
The real work started a couple of months later when winter arrived. Finnish winters are cold, dark and very long, so there's plenty of time to spend in the garage. Joni wanted to get the front bumper to look more like an RS4, so he bought an aftermarket RS4-look bumper, which was molded to the RS2 part. "The main reason for reshaping the bumper was to fit a bigger intercooler," Joni admitted later.
To get matching side skirts, Joni bought a pair of B5 A4 fiberglass skirts and modified them to fit. "I was even thinking about widening the car with RS4-style fender flares but realized they wouldn't look right with the RS2 lines," he explained.
After some more thinking, Joni decided to widen the fenders himself in steel. The factory arches were cut and then welded together with an inch more steel. Joni cut the bottom of the rear doors, and blended them to fit the new fenders. He told us that this was the hardest part of finishing the widebody. "But on the other hand, the hardest part may have been the decision to cut a very rare car in the first place," he laughed.
When the bodywork was done, it was time for paint. After planning on Lamborghini grey, he decided to go with white. "I wanted it to be as pure white as possible and found the right color on the BMW chart," he explained. The exact tone was called Williams Ice white. And while the car was being painted, Joni decided to paint his new 19x8.5" RH Crossline wheels the same color.
While the RS2 was Audi's fastest vehicle in its day, time has marched on. So our Finn disassembled the five-cylinder to prepare for a larger turbo. The bottom-end was balanced and rebuilt with Scat H-profile rods. Joni fabricated new headers, 3.5" downpipe and a 3" exhaust for better flow. A short-runner Wagner Tuning manifold was ordered from Germany to give more top-end power. Lastly, the thirst for fuel was addressed with 630cc injectors and a larger Bosch fuel pump.
With the motor and its ancillaries ready for more boost, a Holset HX40 turbo replaced the original KKK. To explain the size of this turbo, it's commonly used on 5.0-8.0 liter diesel engines, but once Joni tuned the new hardware with VEMS engine management, he estimated the 2.2 liter to produce a tire-shredding 500hp to all four wheels.
Joni retained the original six-speed tranny but fitted a sintered clutch and Sachs Race pressure plate, which surprisingly remains daily drivable. Handling was again updated with KW Variant2 coilovers.
Joni is planning to lighten the car with carbon parts and has four racing seats to replace the factory Recaros. Keeping that in mind, he tells us he hasn't forgotten the rarity and heritage of the RS2, but that after the long winter this Avant will be back in its place as the king of wagons.
1995 Audi RS2 Avant
Owner: Joni Meriläinen
Location: Sotkamo, Finland
Engine: 2.2 liter 20v five-cylinder with Scat H-profile rods, Green air filter, Wagner Tuning intake manifold, Holset HX40 Super turbo, 630x300x76mm front-mount intercooler, Forge Motorsport dump valve, 3'' charge pipes, custom header, 3.5'' downpipe, 3'' exhaust, HKS-style wastegate, Bosch 044 fuel pump, Siemens Deca 006 630cc injectors, VEMS engine management, Dahlbäck Racing adjustable cam gear, blue silicone hoses
Drivetrain: all-wheel drive, six-speed manual with sintered Sachs Race clutch
Brakes: 12'' front and 11.8'' rear Zimmermann drilled rotors with Porsche four-piston calipers
Suspension: KW Variant2 coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5'' RH Crossline wheels with 225/35 R19 Hankook tires
Exterior: custom front bumper with modified RS2 and B5 RS4 parts, widened steel fenders with rear doors and rear bumper adapted to suit, modified B5 A4-style side skirts, custom rear wing, shaved side moldings, RS4-style badgeless grille, clear turn signals
Interior: OEM Recaro seats, boost and air/fuel gauges in A-pillar pod
Audio/Visual: Pioneer head unit, 7'' monitor molded into dash