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Audi Sport celebrates 25 years of Audi RS – our Top 5 milestones

A quarter of a century ago, Audi’s high-performance Quattro GmbH division spawned a new ‘halo’ performance sub-brand called RS – standing for RennSport, literally translating to ‘racing sport’.

It began with the iconic RS 2 Avant, and what came next is our favourite tale of formidable success; with performance, prestige and exclusivity to boot.

Audi Sport GmbH, (formerly quattro GmbH), has presented a total of 25 models in 25 years. This year, we have another six to look forward to; two of which are completely new additions to the RS roster.

RS models take their respective derivatives and push them to a whole new and unseen level of performance, many of them pioneering their market segments and paving the way for technical innovations – from the Audi RS 4 Avant’s V6 19 years ago to the TT RS’ award winning five cylinder in its latest evolutionary stage.

RS 2 Avant to RS 4 Cabriolet: Dynamism rooted in tradition

It’s been a long and exciting 25-year road – join us for a trip down memory lane with our top five RS moments to date:

In 1994, the 315PS Audi RS 2 Avant was merely the start of what the RS badge would evolve into in the years to come. It wrote the rulebook for RS as we know it, with its four-valve, five-cylinder engine, long since in use. Co-designed with Porsche, the RS 2 Avant was a highly potent car for its day, adopting the 993-generation 911’s wheels, fog lights and exterior mirrors and Porsche-designed brakes and suspension. With this car, Audi established the segment of the dynamic high-performance estates in one fell swoop. The RS 2 Avant had room for 5 adults, luggage, and the ability to keep pace with the likes of the Honda NSX and Porsche 993 Carrera – High-performance was no longer left just to the race tracks, and a new trendsetter was born.

Audi RS2 Avant

1999, the Audi RS 4 Avant brought a new dimension of power to the medium-size class cars that we knew. Based on the S4 of the time, a V6 engine with displacement of 2.7 litres, five valves per cylinder and biturbo charging did all the work – just like in the S4. But, in true RS style, powerful was made more powerful with a developed power unit- ensuring further vibrancy and even higher torque than the S4.

The cylinder head was newly developed, the intake and exhaust ports were revised and the cross section of the air ducts were enlarged on the suction and compression sides. Furthermore, the turbochargers were significantly larger and the boost pressure was increased compared with the S4. So, what difference did it all make? Another 115PS, that’s what – taking maximum engine power from the S4’s 265PS, to a staggering 380PS.

Red Audi S4

In 2005 came the RS 4 second generation. Taking inspiration from motorsports, numerous innovations upgraded the RS 4 this time around. One in particular worth mentioning: the V8 engine with 420PS – revolutionising the combination of petrol diesel injection and a high-rev concept that allowed up to 8,250 rpm.

The petrol direct injection engine enabled improved power output through more effective production of the fuel/air mixture. In the R8, which enjoyed success at Le Mans, the FSI technology had already proven its performance in impressive style.

white RS model

The engine was also used in the first generation of the Audi R8, in 2007. The suspension offered the latest generation of permanent all-wheel drive as well as the Dynamic Ride Control damper system that was first used in 2002 in the RS 6.

Orange RS

The great outdoors met the great indoors with the RS 4 Cabriolet – to date, the only open-top driving pleasure accompanied by the sound of the sonorous V8 aspirated engine.

In 2008, we were introduced to a roaring sports car disguised as an unassuming business estate; otherwise known as the RS 6 Avant. It soon made a name for itself and got ahead of the competition- and we’re not just talking about its 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds. A completely newly developed V10 engine saw FSI direct injection, biturbo charging, dry sump lubrication which is also used in motorsport as well as the quattro permanent all-wheel drive – a now RS staple.

With the impressive V10 force complete with 580PS of power and 650 Nm (479.4 lb-ft) of torque, the RS 6 Avant was the most powerful series production Audi to date.

Grey RS6

The V10 engine’s oil circuit was developed with dry sump lubrication, which was put through its paces in motorsports, to meet the most exacting demands in terms of vehicle dynamics at the time.  

White Audi RS model

The external oil container and the oil pump module, which operates with numerous suction stages, ensured that all engine components and the two turbochargers were lubricated at all times. This high-performance technology is still used today, and can be found under the bonnet of the Audi R8.

2011 brought the RS 3 Sportback with 340PS; bringing RS to the compact class with its very own five-cylinder engine.

In 2013, it was time for Audi to hit another market segment, with the launch of the RS Q3 - given its 5.5-second 0-62 acceleration, you’d wonder if it was a SUV or a scalding-hot hatchback. Powered by the transversely installed 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine, as used in the TT RS and RS 3. Not even 50 centimetres long, the engine was very compact. This made the long-stroke engine (bore x stroke 82.5 x 92.8 millimetres) perfect for transverse installation. Initially, it produced 310PS, but this increased to 340PS from late 2014.

The RS Q3 performance that followed in 2016 saw a performance boost again, reaching a mighty 367PS.

So, that’s the RS story up to now - we don’t know about you, but we’re very excited to read the next chapter.


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