Having visited Finland earlier this year for the first time, I was struck by one characteristic that all Finns seem to share. The racing driver gene. Every person I was in the car with in Finland was aggressive on the throttle but were very quick and calculating in traffic. These people mean business. Not surprising then the drivers’ exam is a bit more stringent than what we are used to stateside. To get a drivers’ license in Finland, you must pass both a summer and winter driving test. This is a great idea which should be universal. Once licensed, what should the Finn who wants to drive fast in all conditions opt for? How about this rare red rocket? The Audi RS2 Avant. This RS2 Avant for sale in Helsinki is the perfect runabout for the speed freak who needs a bit of space for family or recreational activities.
From yesterday’s end of the run B2 Audi 90, today we have another special feature on a unique Audi. While the B3 heavily revised the safety, aerodynamics, comfort and luxury for the small Audi range, weight went up and power was effectively the same, meaning that the B3 was at a distinct performance disadvantage to the natural rival BMW. Audi did increase the amount of power that the B3 quattros had at their disposal with the introduction of the 7A 20V motor in 1990, but the twin-cam inline-5 wasn’t available in front drive Audis which sold in greater number. That gulf grew wider as BMW upped the power again with the new E36 chassis, now with the best part of 190 horsepower available in the 325i. To answer the competition, Audi heavily revised both its large and small chassis in for the 1991 and 1992 model years. The C4 model was introduced late in 1990 in Europe, and while Audi did away with the 200 model the new S4 ostensibly replaced it with even more sport. But the 100 saw massive changes too, with the introduction of automatic transmissions to the quattro range widening the appeal of the model. Though the V8 quattro had offered that option previously, it was a much more expensive model and the 100 was also available in Avant form. But the big change was under the hood, where a AAH 12 valve single cam 2.8 liter V6 replaced the previous NG/NF 2.3 naturally aspirated inline-5 and MC1/2 2.2 turbocharged inline-5 power units of the 100 quattro and front-drive and 200 Turbo front wheel drive models, respectively.
In the small chassis, Audi continued to offer two different chassis levels for the newly introduced for 1992 B4. Carrying over from the C4 range was the same 172 horsepower 2.8 V6, powering either all four wheels or the front wheels only. Few mechanical changes were made to the quattro models versus earlier inline-5 models, but the front drivers received more refinement from a trailing arm torsion beam axle instead of the previous Panhard rod design. Outside, new front and rear fascia was mostly expressed by integrating the hood and grill to match the C4 design. Fender flares increased, new contoured hoods offered more character, and different bumper covers updated the look slightly. New wheel designs were also incorporated into the B4 lineup, with 10 spoke Speedline-made wheels being standard and optional Ronal “Sport” 5-spoke wheels, both in a slightly greater 37mm offset as opposed to the 45mm offset of early B3 models (with the exception of the Coupe). There were plenty of other minor changes inside and out that added up to a very different and more refined feel versus the earlier B3. But Audi needed to provide some time for U.S. dealers to relaunch the new 90 model range. So, while in 1991 you could buy either a 90 quattro 20V or 80 quattro, in 1992 there was only a 80 model available – no 90s were sold. This coincided with the lowest sales figures for the small chassis Audi had recorded. The new 90 would launch here in late 1992 as a 1993 model in both quattro and FrontTrak form. And to help promote the new model, Audi brought over a few pre-production models, one of which we have here:
In the high performance, exclusive world of Audi’s RS models, most enthusiasts believe they never got it quite as right as they did with the original model. Sure, the RS4s, RS6s, RS5s and TTRSs are impressive, fast and luxurious. They’ll all decimate the roads on the way to your destination, with little regard for supposedly faster marque’s badges. But there was something that was extra special and just a bit more magical about the original RS2; the first of the super wagons, the splashes of red and RS blue were like a poison dart frog – a warning to the rest of the big boys that this little wagon meant business. Packed with a special 311 horsepower Porsche-messaged version of the venerable 20 valve turbocharged inline-5, the RS2 was very special indeed. Power made it to the ground through all four wheels mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with Brembo brakes and Porsche wheels; the small chassis Audi could break 5 seconds in a 0-60 sprint and was good for over 160 m.p.h. making it one of the fastest road cars in the 1990s. About 3,000 of these cars were made, making them not quite as rare as one would expect given how infrequently we see them for sale – but there’s a stunning low mile example today on VW Vortex: