The Audi-Porsche Genesis
Audi Sport, a name that can not be mentioned without a referral to the Group B (or rather the “Golden”) Era of the World Rally Championship in the 1980’s. While it was short-lived, it was Audi, who took the first step in creating a four-wheel drive rally car, intriguing other manufacturers like Peugeot, Lancia, MG and Ford to join the fight.
Audi took the first manufacturers’ title in 1982, while Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomqvist took their respective titles in 1983 and 1984. The team also won its second manufacturers’ title in 1984, making it the (joint) most successful team before the end of Group B in 1986. During this time, it won 23 WRC rallies.
Hereafter, Audi won the infamous Pikes Peak Hillclimb three times between 1984 and 1987. The manufacturer switched to circuit racing with the Audi 200 quattro in 1988 (USA), consequently taking two German Touringcar Championships (today the DTM) in 1990 and 1991. It once again took a string of victories in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
The new millennium started well for Audi Sport as it won the 24 hours of Le Mans from 2000 – 2014, only beaten by Bentley in 2003 and Peugeot in 2009. Winning the FIA World Rallycross championship in 2016 as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge from 2016 to 2018, Audi Sport remains fixed in motorsport history.
Yet, the history of Audi Sport started well in advance of their WRC entry in 1982 as the NSU Motorenwerke (DKW, Simca and Audi) group already started contesting motor racing in 1908. The NSU group would later be bought by Volkswagen.
Audi certainly had success on the racetrack, but where and when did the RS-badge came to existence?
Although the RennSport name already came to existence in the 1950’s with Porsche and Borgward, the same top-tier branding only joint forces with Audi in the 1990’s. More significantly, the first Audi RS model was a product of collaboration between Audi and Porsche.
1994 – 1996 Audi RS 2 Avant (B4)
This was the first Audi Sport product for road users. Fitted with Porsche 911 wheels, brakes and suspension, the B4 saw a perfect culmination of luxury (mainly Audi) and sportiness (mainly Porsche).
Porsche took the iconic station wagon (avant), the Audi 80 and spiked the 2.2 litre (5 cylinder turbocharged) engine to produce 232kW / 223 Nm. This would charge the RS2 from standstill to 100km/h in only 5.8 seconds.
For the 90’s, this was something to behold, considering that it went even faster than Audi’s own S80.
2000 Audi RS 4 Avant (B5)
The early 2000’s saw the removal of the Audi 80 and the introduction of the A4. Subsequently, the RS4 took over as the successor for the RS2. This time around, Porsche left Audi to it.
It featured a 2.7 litre twin-turbo V6, managing 280kW and 241 Nm. This dropped the new 0-100km/h time to just below 5 seconds. With Audi Quattro GMBh fitted brakes, it could also come to a standstill from 110km/h in under 50 meters.
2002 Audi RS 6 Avant (C5)
Shortly thereafter, the C5 came into existence. Based on the A6, Cosworth again (like with the B5) worked on the (now much bigger) 4.2 litre twin turbo v8, capable of 331 kW / 317Nm . 0-100 Km/h now only took 4/7 seconds.
The C5 featured new technology, seeing a new lower and firmer suspension as well as dynamic ride control.
The RS6 plus was also released in 2004, producing 350kW and 317Nm. This meant that the 0-100km/h sprint time would drop by 0.2 seconds, while Cosworth tweaked the suspension and steering even more.
The C5 also saw the release of the first-ever sedan RS model.
2006 Audi RS4 (B7)
Perhaps one of the most iconic Audi RS models, the B7 saw the second RS4 built in 2006. Not featuring any turbos, the B7 saw a 4.2 litre naturally aspirated v8. This same engine was used in the first-ever R8 model.
The B7 developed 309 kW and 235 Nm, bringing the car from standstill to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Like the C5, it also sold sedan and cabriolet units.
Firmer suspension, sharper steering and ceramic brakes (borrowed from the then Lamborghini Gallardo) also made this specific model sportier.
2008 Audi RS6 (C6)
Moving away from v8’s the new RS models featured a 5 litre twinturbocharged V10 (found then in the Lamborghini Gallardo and R8 V10). It produced 426 kW and 355 Nm. This brought back the 0-100km/h time to just 4.6 seconds.
2009 Audi TT RS
The first-ever RS compact sports car was seen at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show. It featured a straight 5, 2.5 litre turbocharged engine, capable of 250kW and 450Nm. Due to its proportions, it was also capable of a 4.5 sec, 0-100km/h time.
2010 Audi RS 4 (B8)
The RS4 once again returned with the naturally aspirated 4.2 litre V8, producing the same amounts of power, found in the B7.
2010 Audi RS 5 (8T)
In 2010, Audi introduced the RS5 Sportsback. Capable of 331kW and 430Nm, it housed the familiar 4.2 litre V8 found in its predecessors.
2013 Audi RS 6 and RS 7 (C7)
The third generation RS6 and RS7 featured a slightly smaller 4.0 litre TFSI v8 engine, capable of 412kW and a monstrous 700Nm. This immediately brought down the 0-100km/h time to below 4 seconds.
A C7 RS6 Performance package was later released with 445kW and 750Nm, reducing the 0-100km/h time to just 3.7 seconds.
2017 Audi RS3
Audi decided to move away from the hatchback format in 2017, developing a 5-cylinder 2.5 litre turbo petrol, capable of producing 294kW and 480Nm. Fitted with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, the new smallest RS could reach a 0-100km/h time of 4.1 seconds.
2019 Audi RS 4 and RS 5
For 2019, Audi brought out the RS4 and RS5 with the same engines. While the RS4 saw itself as an Avant, the RS5 took the form of a coupe.
Both were fitted with a 2.9 litre twin-turbo v6 petrol, capable of producing 331 kW and 600Nm. This helped along both models to a 0-100km/h time of 3.9 seconds.
In 2017, Kelvin van der Linde famously took the #29 Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS to a sensational 24hours of Nürburgring victory on only the last lap as rain caused chaos for pit crews and team strategists.
The R8, designed by Frank Lamberty and Julian Hoenig took to the public roads for the first time in 2006 as Audi’s first go at the supercar category.
The first models saw the recognised 4.2 FSI V8 engines, however, would soon be fitted with the 5.2 FSI V10 engine, borrowed from Lamborghini.
The second generation R8 took to the roads in 2015, also seeing the release of the V10 plus. Sharing the same aerodynamic features as the Lamborghini Huracan, the V10 plus (449kW) could manage a 0-100km/h in only 2.8 seconds.
To date, this is a very popular car in the Audi Sport stable, with Audi centre Somerset West recording record sales figures in 2018.
The same year also saw Audi, fitting the R8 with two-wheel (rear wheel) drive, rather than the normal Quattro drive.
SUV range goes RS
In 2019, Audi decided to fit its RS badge on some of its SUV’s. First up, the RS Q3 saw the same 2.5 litre, 5 cylinder engine from the TT RS, being fitted to the small SUV to produce 294kW and 480Nm, reaching 0-100km/h in only 4.5 seconds.
2020 and a new decade for the RS-badge
To this day, many hardcore Audi Sport fans believe that the RS badge should only be fitted to Avant’s and 2020 will be no different. Returning to the centre stage for the Audi product range for the RS badge, will be the RS6 Avant as well as numerous SUV models, most notably, the RSQ8.
While the TT RS and R8 models will receive a facelift (probably in Q3/Q4), the RS7 Sportsback (4 litre Biturbo V8) will also make its way towards South Africa around the same time and will develop 447kW.
Going back to its roots with the RS6, 2020 will see the same V8 engine, which will be fitted to the RS7, also producing 447 kW and 437Nm. It will therefore reach 0-100km/h in only 3.6 seconds.
Perhaps the biggest surprise will come from the 2020 Audi RS Q8; only the second Audi SUV to receive RS treatment. It will feature the same 4.0 litre turbocharged v8 engine, but, with added hybrid assist, will reach 0-100km/h in only 3.8 seconds. This result is surprising, seen as though this is a large SUV that we are talking about.
Since its inception with Porsche, the RS name has come a long way. While Audi decided to only bring out one RS model at a time during the 90’s and early 2000’s, the story has changed somewhat and today we are seeing more of these sporty Audi’s on our roads.
With the E-tron models also making its way to South Africa, the manufacturer will have a busy, yet exciting year or two laying ahead.